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Chicago adds 25 bike parking corrals

From left Tony GirBrian Bonanno who both play role running Chicago's bike parking corral program chwith bikers Patrick Garnett Ed

From left, Tony Giron and Brian Bonanno, who both play a role in running Chicago's bike parking corral program, chat with bikers Patrick Garnett and Ed Deverux about the latest on-street bike parking on North Clark Street. | Meenakshi Dalal~Sun Times

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Updated: August 7, 2013 6:11AM

Ted Eiel, 43, rolled up to North Clark Street’s newest bike corral Friday afternoon announcing to his friend, “Oh nice, they have one of these now. ‘Bout time,” before locking in his bright red bike and heading into an adjacent business.

It’s the Chicago Department of Transportation, which announced the addition of more than 25 bike parking corrals for installation this summer, that Eiel has to thank.

There are 13 corrals currently in the city.

The corrals take up one on-street parking space and provide parking for at least 10 bikes. The spot cleared for the bikes is moved to another part of the same ward so the city doesn’t lose any money in parking revenue, officials said.

The corrals are not funded by the city, said bike parking corral program manager Tony Giron. Businesses and business groups pay $3,300 for each corral, he said.

Some business owners said that because of the corrals, there are fewer cars, more bikes and more people walking, according to CDOT commissioner Gabe Klein.

“And that’s exactly what we want to see and that’s what helps increase business for these retailers,” Klein said.

In Andersonville, bikers are jazzed about the new additions, citing newfound ease of parking their rides, but some business owners aren’t convinced just yet.

One owner whose business is close to the bike corrals said she wished there were more parking instead.

“Bikers don’t really go shopping. They go to eat and drink, so the corrals don’t really help retail stores,” said the business owner, who declined to give her name.

Others in the area said they hadn’t seen a difference in revenue one way or another. “It’s too new to see the full impact, yet,” said Erikson’s Delicatessen owner Ann Nilsson.

The two newly installed corrals on North Clark Street have been in place for one and three weeks, respectively.

“It’s hard to attribute any extra foot traffic we’ve had just to the bikes because we’ve also recently made a lot of changes in our store,” said Urban Orchard employee Melissa Reyes. Urban Orchard, a grocery store, has a bike corral right out front.

Despite the varying views by business owners, CDOT holds that corrals will boost business. It cited two different studies that concluded cyclists spend more money per month, but in smaller installments, than their car-driving shopping counterparts.

Though at the moment it’s unclear whether the corrals are bringing a competitive edge to local businesses, they bring a competitive spirit for some.

“I actually checked in with New York yesterday; they have 22 bike corrals so hopefully we’ll pass them up by the end of the month,” Giron said.

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