Pedaling down 200 South through pelting snow, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker knew Thursday morning he would have a premium spot downtown to lock up his bicycle.
After all, he was steering toward his latest bike-friendly initiative: a corral that can accommodate 10 bicycles in a former parking slot in front of Squatters Pub Brewery.
"Great biking weather," Becker smiled as the white pebbles bounced off his helmet. "It's great to see us dedicating more and more space for the bicyclists in our city. This is an example of businesses stepping forward."
The bike-corral idea may be new in Utah's capital, but they are common in places such as Portland, Ore., which has 70 such corrals, plus a waiting list for 70 more.
Salt Lake City hopes the new bike corrals which will remain in place from April through November and the current bike racks fronting businesses become contagious. There is no cost for businesses to give up a parking slot for a corral, which the city already owns and installs. It comes with reflective, flexible posts and a bike-parking sign, also at no cost to the business owner.
Corrals now sit outside Squatters and the Twilite Lounge, with Bruges Waffles and Frites and Sugar House Coffee slated to get theirs any day.
Becka Roolf, the city's bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, said giving bikers a safe option for parking, usually in view from the window of a brewery, eatery or coffee shop, should encourage more people to leave the keys at home and bike instead.
"It's all about having choices," she said.
That was true for city resident Zed Bailey, whose low-riding cruiser was the first bike in the new corral Thursday.
"To see this is stalwart," he said. "It is going to really give a push for businesses to get interested in cyclists. It's going to gain energy."
No need to convince City Councilman Luke Garrott. As he pedaled up to Squatters, he found the corral already full.
"Hey, there's no parking," he mocked. "Can we get another one of these?"
So far, the city will entertain only a single corral per business. But any business can get one.
Once he found a separate spot to lock up in a park strip, Garrott said the beauty of the program is giving cyclists a secure and simple option.
"It seems to be a good trade for business," he added. "You bring in more people. Ten people on bikes instead of one car it makes a lot of sense."
Roolf, who noted portable corrals for 1,000 bikes will be set up at the Downtown Farmers Market and the Utah Arts Festival, said more businesses than the first four have expressed interest in getting the 10-cycle version.
That is encouraging for resident Michael Wise, who said the concept is perfect for groups riding together in the mild months.
"For businesses, they look at the response to it and say, 'Oh, all those things we've been saying about needing more street parking maybe that's not true.' "