The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority (DDA) this week is installing dozens of new bicycle racks to provide more convenient and secure short-term parking options for the steadily growing number of bicycling Grand Rapidians.

Short-term bicycle parking typically aims to serve visitors to restaurants, shopping areas, libraries, office buildings, parks, and other destinations where the typical parking duration is two hours or less.

“The availability of parking is as critical for cyclists as it is for motorists,” said DDA Board Member, Kent County Commissioner, and frequent bike commuter Jim Talen. “The investment in these new racks will provide shoppers, customers, messengers, delivery riders, and other commuters with more readily accessible places to park their bike.”

The DDA will install 39 new racks and increase by 12 percent the overall supply of public bicycle parking to a total of some 730 spaces in the central business district. The locations meet the standard criteria for successful short-term parking, including clearly visible to cyclists, high pedestrian activity, close proximity to destination entrances, and are well-distributed throughout downtown. Specific locations include near the entrances to MadCap Coffee Company, HopCat, Founders Brewing Company, the Apartment Lounge, One Trick Pony, and the Calder Plaza Building. The DDA also will deploy numerous racks in the Fulton Street corridor, including near The B.O.B., Van Andel Arena, the forthcoming Grand Rapids Brewing Company, and San Chez Bistro.

“These tend to be heavily trafficked bicycling destinations,” said Nate Phelps, owner of Central Business District Cyclery. “This additional parking is an inexpensive and effective way to meet the growing demand for new and improved bicycling facilities.”

The new racks support the ongoing implementation of the DDA’s 2011 Framework, which provides the blueprint for near-term action to help catalyze revitalization and enhance downtown’s overall competitiveness and quality of life. The Framework established the goal of, among other things, building a downtown that is easy to navigate by foot, bicycle, and transit. The Framework implementation plan of action specifically recommended the DDA invest in expanded bicycle parking throughout downtown by 2012.

The racks also come as the City of Grand Rapids works to expand the network of urban bicycle lanes by 26 miles over the next nine months and bolster the city’s bike friendly credentials.

“With ArtPrize right around the corner, we wanted to move quickly and respond to the growing public interest in and demand for improved bicycling facilities,” said DDA Executive Director Kristopher Larson. “But the reality is bicycling is quickly emerging as a year-round mode of transportation for a growing number of people. So this latest deployment of bike racks is just the beginning of a much larger and more ambitious bicycle parking program that will take shape over the next several months.”