Building Bike-friendly Neighborhoods

Date Posted: 06.25.2016

By Brendan Connolly

With urban centers and college campuses experiencing unprecedented growth and increased density, integration of bicycle and pedestrian strategies in urban planning and architectural design is vital to the creation of effective and connected cities. Our teams bring insight and passion to a wide range of bicycle-related projects, from urban-scale planning for the new bicycle and bioswale infrastructure in the Ballard neighborhood’s 14th Avenue greenway, to the integration of bicycle storage and repair facilities in many multifamily and campus housing projects. At the University of California San Diego’s Mesa Nueva, for example, a public bicycle rest and repair station serves as a community amenity at the front door to campus.

Mithun’s vibrant mixed-use design for Block 136 in Portland’s Pearl District highlights the opportunity for city-wide benefit from the incorporation of alternate transportation choices and amenities as a core part of sustainable urban design. This project features program elements and design details that support cycling as a viable choice for residents, office workers and visitors, including ample covered secure bicycle storage and a bike club for enthusiasts, easily accessible from NW Johnson St., a main biking thoroughfare in the city. Facilities for washing and repairing bikes are also provided, as well as exterior bike racks distributed throughout the site for easy access to all major building entries. Bike-related art will adorn the entry hall to the bike level, creating a dynamic and vibrant space to welcome riders.

We consider the big picture. Our integrated teams are exploring how streets and rights of way in urban centers like Portland, Seattle and San Francisco can be rethought to accommodate the highest and best use for the widest spectrum of use and activation. Collectively, these street and sidewalk spaces account for over 30% of the surface areas of our cities, and shared use of this precious resource helps urban and campus communities to thrive—financial, ecological and social prosperity can converge in the spaces between buildings.

And, sometimes we accomplish great things on a small scale. We’re excited to install a new custom, staff-designed bike rack and bench in the lobby of our offices at Pier 56 to hold the long-standing collection of shared bikes that are available for employees to take to meetings and site visits. In the public realm, Mithun is currently assisting the Center for Architecture and Design in Seattle with a new sidewalk and streetscape parklet design that will transform urban on-street parking spaces into a mixed-use bike storage and gathering space celebrating the power of design in our urban space.

In addition to these bike-related planning and design activities, Mithun supports bike commuting in our two offices, participates in the annual Bike Everywhere program, and advocates for cycling issues through service on the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board and the Seattle Design Commission. Advancing these ideas is a part of our professional work, but also a personal passion for many of our staff—we see it as a crucial component of our cities and firm culture.