PICS: Santa Monica, Calif. Opens Nation's Largest Bike Parking Center

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(Photo: LA Metro)

Santa Monica, Calif. has plenty of parking lots and garages, what with the beach, 3rd Street Promenade, and brand new shopping center. Now it also has the nation's highest capacity  secure bike parking center with more than 350 spots, according to LA Metro, the agency funding the project. The Santa Monica Bike Center opens Saturday.

The $2 million ground-level garage is 5,300 square feet, with showers, lockers, restrooms and self-service repair facilities. There will even be attended valet parking for visitors to the swanky Santa Monica Place mall above the bike center.

This project is designed to encourage regular commuting by bike. Cyclists will have to become members of the facility and pay daily, weekly, or monthly fees for the full service amenities.

Interior of the Santa Monica Bike Center (Photo: Nicolas Goldmark)

Richard Bloom, Mayor of the City of Santa Monica said, "This new bike center, built from scratch into a major development site will provide commuters and recreational riders with all the amenities they need to better access downtown Santa Monica car-free."

Santa Monica already has a big biking population in a region of drivers. The city boasts a bike commuter rate of 3.4 percent. That's compared to one percent for the neighboring city of  Los Angeles according to the American Community Survey.

The share of people accessing work by bicycle in Santa Monica has increased by almost 30 percent from 2007 and 2010, according to L.A. Metro. The city's Bike Action Plan calls for an array of projects and improvements to increase that to 14-35 percent of all trips in the city.

Part of the strategy is to allow transit access from Santa Monica to the rest of the L.A. region. The bike parking facility is close to existing bus routes, and walking distance to a planned expansion of the Expo Line Phase II light rail route scheduled to open in 2015.

Daily operations for the Bike Center will be managed by Bike 'n' Park, the firm that also operates the bike center in Chicago and the Bikestation in Washington, D.C.