Tagmaster’s project

Bike parking phenomenon A

If this photo doesn’t demonstrate to you the idea behind Bike Parking Phenomenon A, then I don’t know what will.

“A bicyclist will choose an inferior, unsanctioned, or inappropriate object to which to lock their bicycle if said object is closer to their final destination than a superior, sanctioned, adequate, or appropriate object.”

Read more about Bike Parking Phenomenon A on my Master’s Project website. Or continue reading to learn more about the photograph above.

The owner of the red bicycle is taking a large risk by locking their bicycle to the sign pole. These are easily removed – unscrew the single bolt and the bicycle is yours. It’s called “sucker pole” for this reason. The sign pole is inferior to the immediately adjacent bike rack. The bike rack (a u-rack or staple rack) offers the bicyclist a much more secure place to park their bike. Distance is not a factor here.

Granted, I was not there when the owner of the red bicycle arrived at this location and proceed to lock their bike to the sign pole. The bike rack MAY have been full. However, I do not believe this to be the case because I have never seen more than one bike rack locked to this bike rack. This intersection sees a lot of bicycle through traffic and not very much destination traffic.

Distance is a factor at this Whole Foods on Westlake in South Lake Union, Seattle, Washington. Read more about the importance of distance in a previous blog post.

Notice in the photo above where bicycles are locked. What does this mean for people who aren’t using bicycles, like pedestrians and people using wheelchairs or walkers?

Igniting the discussion on equity

I want to have more conversations about transportation equity

My master’s project is all about it. You might have read me talking about it a little here two weeks ago. A then I shot off a post with some key quotes I’m using about the topic in my project.

The purpose of the map is to show the difference in distribution between 2008 and 2009.

This post, though, is all about the graphic above. A lengthy conversation has begun in the comments on the Flickr page. I want more people to get talking about why 2008 might look the way it does, and why 2009 looks the way it does. Perhaps you need a little background on 2009: I made sure to visit the most underserved Wards you see in 2008 and ensure they receive new bike racks in 2009.

A big question is why people in those areas aren’t asking for bike racks. Does no one there ride a bike to the store? Or maybe they do but don’t know how to request a bike rack or know the purpose of one? Maybe they got a bike stolen and need some tips on proper locking.

Those are all questions I want my project to answer – and I’m working hard 20 hours per week to answer them! But I want more questions. I want ideas that point me to look in new directions. If you don’t like my response, tell me.

Bike parking is almost always mentioned in nationwide bike plans as a necessary way to complete the urban bicycling network. Mia Birk, “famous” bicycle planner, and principal at Alta Planning and Design in Portland, Oregon, says that bike parking is part of “the tool kit for successful 
bicycle infrastructure in cities.” Another Portland entity is aware of equity: BikePortland.org.

What’s going on here? Photo by Eric Rogers.

Quotes about transportation equity

My master’s project involves a discussion about equity. Equity of bike parking distribution is the main focus of my project.

I picked up some great books at my school’s library. Here are some selected quotes (many of which I’ll use in the project’s paper).

  • “Transportation improvements distribute nonuniformly over space, implying that they affect diverse populations disproportionately” (Berechman).
  • “Geography defines the contours of the equity analysis in two important ways. First, since investment in transportation infrastructure is geographically specific, there is inherent competition and conflict between places” (Hodge).
  • The “costs and benefits of transportation policies may take place in different time periods” (Bae and Mayeres). For example, “mega projects are often built with excess capacity aimed at satisfying future needs. Such a pattern imposes inequitable intergenerational transfers, favoring the future rather than the present generations” (Berechman).
  • “Indirect benefits…represent real impacts that probably benefit some people more than others. It is exceedingly difficult, however, to trace through the benefit stream of these broad impacts” (Hodge).

And my favorite: “Transportation is an unusual public service in that it is not consumed for its own sake but, rather, as a means to another end. Thus, the value of the service depends primarily on how well it provides access to other places” (Hodge).

My professor last semester said the same thing, actually, and then we had a huge discussion trying figure out situations where this isn’t true. The only thing our class (well, the professor himself) could come up with was joyriding (driving aimlessly in a car). But is joyriding really transportation? The trip origin and destination are the same and the trip has no purpose.

I thought of the transportation system at Walt Disney World, but I eventually withdrew my support – although the goal of that system is to make it easy for guests to spend more money, the system has a legitimate role in giving access to places inside and outside the “pay area.”

Sources

Bae, Chang-Hee Christine and Inge Mayeres. “Transportation and Equity.” Donaghy, Kieran P, Stefan Poppelreuter and George Rudinger. Social Dimensions of Sustainable Transport: Transatlantic Perspectives. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2005. 164-192.

Berechman, Joseph. The Evaluation of Transportation Investment Projects. New York City: Routledge, 2009.

Hodge, David C. “My Fair Share: Equity Issues In Urban Transportation.” The Geography of Urban Transportation. Ed. Susan Hanson. Second. New York City: Guilford Press, 1995.

Benefits of bike parking

I’m working on my master’s project about bike parking distribution and equity in Chicago and while working on a section in the paper, I decided to get some help from readers. Many transportation projects are measured on predicted changes like trip travel time savings or trip cost savings (I give two examples below the photo).

My question is this: What are a bike parking installation’s measurable benefits to a traveler or a community?

Photo: Portland has installed 40 on-street bike parking “corrals” since 2004. What does a traveler or community gain from this bike rack installation? Photo by Kyle Gradinger.

To figure equity (fairness) for these project types, you measure these impacts for different groups (often high, medium, and low income), either in the alternatives analysis, or project selection phases. So, converting a lane on a highway to charge tolls for the lane’s users will have a certain benefit for many trips: a lower trip time. A new bus route may be convenient enough for some travelers to switch from driving to taking the bus, possibly reducing their trip cost.

Successful bike parking

UPDATE, 04-23-10: I start to further address distance in the discovery of “Bike Parking Phenomenon A.” Also on my Master’s Project website.

Not every concept, skill or tool can be further and further simplified. Does anything really take just 3 steps?

1. Set it, 2. Forget it, 3. No third step! (This article is about bike parking, not Ron Popeil’s Showtime Rotisserie!)

I believe I can simplify bike parking. Here are my two rules to have successful and well-used bike parking:

1. Put bike parking as close to the front door as physically possible. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen bicycle riders use a substandard sign pole or tree instead of a high-quality bike rack because the bike rack was an additional 20 feet from the front door. UPDATE: As Dave Reid points out in the comments below, close parking increases security. Additionally, I’ve now written about the phenomenon where people lock to inadequate fixtures when high-quality bike parking is nearby, what I call “Bike Parking Phenomenon A” or the “50 feet rule.” Every foot makes a difference!

The bike parking in this photo sits only 20 feet away from the front door to a popular Chicago, Illinois, restaurant.

The bike parking in this photo is too far away from the store entrance for bicyclists to consider using it.

2. Choose the right bike rack. How do you know? Give bicycle riders a bike rack that’s easy to use and secure (i.e. don’t let the bike rack be the weak point in the bicycle’s security).

Six u-racks (also known as inverted-u, or staple racks) line the sidewalk in front of Kuma’s Corner in Chicago, Illinois.

If these two tips aren’t good enough, read through the online brochure, Bicycles at Rest, from the Capital Bike & Walk Society, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

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