Two-Wheeled Confusion

DoCo Draws Crowds, But Don’t Go There on Bike

By R.E. Graswich
December 2018

Jerry and Candace Furlong live in Arden-Arcade but enjoy Downtown. To get there, the Furlongs sometimes ride bikes. The trek is about 10 miles each way, enough to produce a healthy sense of accomplishment.

Earlier this year, the Furlongs biked to the movie theaters next to Golden 1 Center. The day was warm and lovely. Everything was fine until they arrived at Downtown Commons. At that point, the bikes became a burden.

“A guard from the arena asked us to dismount, which was no problem because we’d seen the signs,” Candace says. “Then we asked where we could park. He said he had no idea. We looked all over for a safe place to park our bikes and saw nothing.”

They did see many security guards. Unfortunately, none knew about bike parking. After hauling their bikes up an escalator, the Furlongs were told by movie theater staff to chain up to a railing, which they did.

In their adventure, the Furlongs discovered one of the more consequential realities detracting from the total success of DoCo. Working with a $535 million arena and $250 million hotel, condo and retail complex, the mall’s designers showed little love to bicycles.

And the Furlongs wandered into an even bigger story. The arena is one of the toughest places in Sacramento to reach and enjoy via bicycle. The location is treacherous, surrounded by cars, light rail tracks and one-way streets. The infrastructure is a mess for bikes.

“It’s beautiful, but it’s really hard to get to unless you come in a car,” says Jim Brown, executive director of Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates. “How do we make that part of the city more accessible to bikes? The Kings and city could be leaders. But there’s no easy solution.”

 

If cyclists know where to look, they can find bike racks at DoCo. The racks look like street art—tall, angled wedges of polished steel. Six racks flank the corner of Fifth and L streets and 21 racks form a picket line by the Sawyer Hotel on J Street near Sixth. More racks are on K Street near Seventh, but they have been hidden behind construction barricades.

SABA has worked with the Kings to open a bike corral at 555 Capitol Mall during events. It’s just two blocks away. An earlier corral in Chavez Plaza was too far (not to mention dangerous).

After their movie experience, the Furlongs called the Kings to complain about the lack of bike racks at Golden 1 Center. They received a speedy call back.

“The gentleman told me there was a bike rack at Seventh and L, but he was more concerned about the security guard who didn’t know where the parking was,” Candace says. “He asked several times if I could describe the guy.”

The Kings quickly answered my call, too. As their work with SABA demonstrates, they want frictionless accessibility for all. But winning an NBA championship might be easier. I’ll explain why next time.

R.E. Graswich can be reached at reg@graswich.com.

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