Tag: bike rack

Bike parking distance being put to test in Tucson

Work is underway to implement strict (but appropriate) rules about where Tucson, Arizona, businesses must install bike racks. This news comes from Tucson Vélo. It first came to my attention in May when I was creating and expanding my definition of Bike Parking Phenomenon A, which I now call the “50 feet rule.”

3 of4 bikes are parked on hand rails within 20 feet of this Seattle Whole Foods entrance while one bike is parked more than 50 feet away at the City-owned bike rack.

I left this comment on yesterday’s article from Tucson Vélo:

“Distance is more key to bike parking usage than the quality of bike parking fixture. Bicyclists prefer to use an easily removable sign pole that is closer to final destination than lock to a permanent bike rack further away.”

Some businesses there are complaining that devoting room in front of their business to bike parking removes space available for selling goods. I encourage everyone to support rules requiring bike parking within 50 feet. If installed further away, it simply will go unused.

I’ve written about distance parking many times:

After new bike racks were installed within 10 feet of the Logan Square Chicago Transit Authority entrance, no one parks at the original spots. See how the foot makes a difference?

“Unavailable” bike parking because of Transformers filming

I have more photos of Transformers 3 filming in Chicago.

You’ve probably seen “No Parking – Parade Route – Police Order” signs directed at motorists.

But check out this sign: It informs bicyclists that because of filming on this block, their bike could get in the way and would be removed. So everyone should be gone by 6 PM on Friday.

Michael Bay’s Transformers 3 started filming in Chicago two weeks ago. Additional filming will take place this weekend on part of LaSalle Street. The Chicago Film Office put up these signs (with CDOT’s cooperation) to alert bike riders that they should not leave their bikes here over the weekend. When robots run around, things get messy!

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?

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.