In Portland – a city celebrated for the vitality of its downtown neighborhoods – prime parking spaces in commercial areas are given over to bike corrals.

Does encouraging bike travel reduce traffic congestion, energy consumption and air pollution? Does it reduce the effects of climate change? Absolutely.

But Portland has another motive as well. Bike corrals are good for business.  When I visited the Oregon city last year, Andy Cotugno, planning director of the Portland Metro regional agency, told me that merchants lobby for bike corrals: “(These businesses) know their market well,” he said, “and recognize that parking 15 bikes is better than one car.”

On Tuesday, the Santa Rosa City Council and UCLA urban planning professor Donald Shoup will discuss how many automobile parking spaces the city needs to assure a successful future for the downtown. (You can read Mike McCoy’s store here.)

During these discussions, here’s hoping the City Council doesn’t forget the opportunities available from making the downtown more bicycle-friendly as well.  Cities such as Portland have shown bikes provide a quick and inexpensive way to makes neighborhoods more livable – and prosperous.

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