The Chainlink

Any thoughts on the current parking meter removal & bike parking situation?

As a former Active Transportation Alliance employee and bike parking manager for Chicago Department of Transportation’s Bike Program, I've contacted my old employers for an update on what’s being done to preserve bicycle parking as the City removes parking meters to make way for pay-and-display boxes. See the recent update from CDOT below. An article on the subject will run in a bike magazine this winter.

I would like to include quotes from local cyclists about the meter removal and bike parking replacement situation. If you’d like to participate, please reply to this forum posting with your thoughts on the subject.

Thanks,

John Greenfield


According to CDOT, the City and the meter concessionaire sought input from Active Transportation Alliance and the bicycling community before removing parking meters.

The City and ATA discussions led to a policy of leaving 1/6 of the parking meters in place on blocks without bike racks in business districts. In some cases where there is high bike parking demand, meters are retained even if there are existing racks. The City removes the coin mechanisms of the retained meters and labels them so that bicyclists know that they have been left for their convenience.

In addition, CDOT is currently installing additional bike racks on some blocks where meters were removed to help mitigate the loss of bike parking in areas with high bike traffic, e.g. Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park.

In the future, CDOT may retrofit the retained meters. The meters may have their heads removed and have rings bolted on to the poles to create “post-and-ring” bike racks. This would make it easier to park two bikes on a meter.

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Leaving meters in place has been helpful. I'd like to see the "post and ring" idea implemented in business districts outside the Loop.

Chinatown needs a LOT more racks in more locations. The few existing racks are always full, and lots of bikes are regularly locked to the fence here, which isn't necessarily convenient to their riders' destinations: http://tinyurl.com/yalashl
Ulocks (large steel Us that are adhered at two ends in the concrete) are better than posts. The notion of keeping 1/6th of the total number behind is kind of ridiculous when there are more cyclists than ever, and I would question whether that ratio has been adhered to. The effect of the meter prices, the cost of fuel and the increasingly seen image of the urban cyclist are thankfully adding cyclists to the streets, but there was already a shortage of places to lock up in "destination" areas, so to lessen that while users are increasing is in a word...dumb.
Lee Diamond said:
Ulocks...are better than posts...

I don't agree. In some "destination" areas (say, near the Fullerton el station) the sidewalks are narrow, and the U-racks are permanently filled with bicycles apparently abandoned by rich DePaul students. The bikes are locked perpendicular to the U-racks, and the curb, thus blocking most of the narrow sidewalk...which is jammed with pedestrians hurrying to & from the new, expanded el station. At least with posts, the bikes would be locked PARALLEL to the curb, leaving more room for pedestrians. Locking your bike in these crowded areas of sidewalk is just asking for damage..either accidental, or malicious.

CDOT needs to become aware that certain areas of sidewalk with heavy pedestrian traffic are not appropriate for bike racks...of any kind!
Interesting.

I have a different point of view. It is my opinion that there should be more of these racks at said destinations, not less. U-locks are better because they are more secure and have two anchor points. Further, they can accomodate more than one bicycle, both locked parallel to the curb. I would also think that people would lock their bikes in the same fashion you are describing at the same places whether it was a post or a ulock, no? It has been my experience that this is true....people lock their bikes in both parallel and perpendicular directions.

Eitherway, I do not think there are enough bike lock areas, and I feel pedestrians can avoid bikes as well as they can walls, or any other barrier, but not having a place to lock up near the entrance would only dramatically increase theft IMHO.

Cheers.

Clark said:
Lee Diamond said:
Ulocks...are better than posts...

I don't agree. In some "destination" areas (say, near the Fullerton el station) the sidewalks are narrow, and the U-racks are permanently filled with bicycles apparently abandoned by rich DePaul students. The bikes are locked perpendicular to the U-racks, and the curb, thus blocking most of the narrow sidewalk...which is jammed with pedestrians hurrying to & from the new, expanded el station. At least with posts, the bikes would be locked PARALLEL to the curb, leaving more room for pedestrians. Locking your bike in these crowded areas of sidewalk is just asking for damage..either accidental, or malicious.

CDOT needs to become aware that certain areas of sidewalk with heavy pedestrian traffic are not appropriate for bike racks...of any kind!
Lee - I'll refer to the standard 2-bike city racks as U-racks, to avoid confusion with the locks that many of us use.

I can see both of your points. Many riders disregard the diagram stickers on top of the U-racks, which suggest locking parallel to the curb. Perpendicular locking and abandonment of bikes on the U-racks are significant problems.

On really narrow sidewalks, such as in Chinatown, people are more likely to lock their bikes parallel to the curb, and pedestrians can still walk there. The right type of rack can work in almost any location. One size/type does NOT fit all locations.

Lee Diamond said:
Interesting.

I have a different point of view. It is my opinion that there should be more of these racks at said destinations, not less. U-locks are better because they are more secure and have two anchor points. Further, they can accomodate more than one bicycle, both locked parallel to the curb. I would also think that people would lock their bikes in the same fashion you are describing at the same places whether it was a post or a ulock, no? It has been my experience that this is true....people lock their bikes in both parallel and perpendicular directions.

Eitherway, I do not think there are enough bike lock areas, and I feel pedestrians can avoid bikes as well as they can walls, or any other barrier, but not having a place to lock up near the entrance would only dramatically increase theft IMHO.

Cheers.

Clark said:
Lee Diamond said:
Ulocks...are better than posts...

I don't agree. In some "destination" areas (say, near the Fullerton el station) the sidewalks are narrow, and the U-racks are permanently filled with bicycles apparently abandoned by rich DePaul students. The bikes are locked perpendicular to the U-racks, and the curb, thus blocking most of the narrow sidewalk...which is jammed with pedestrians hurrying to & from the new, expanded el station. At least with posts, the bikes would be locked PARALLEL to the curb, leaving more room for pedestrians. Locking your bike in these crowded areas of sidewalk is just asking for damage..either accidental, or malicious.

CDOT needs to become aware that certain areas of sidewalk with heavy pedestrian traffic are not appropriate for bike racks...of any kind!
i won't miss the meters, the larger diameter post combined the my larger diameter mountain bike tires means i have trouble locking to those with the smaller u-lock that i prefer. take em out and put in u-racks!
Obviously, more U-racks or whatever-racks, around the city would be great, but it would have been ideal if they left more, if not all, parking meters and added the "ring" to them. This would have been a cheaper solution and would have won some praise (at least from me). The old parking meter's with the ring are great for locking my bike and front wheel (deep v's) with my mini u-lock.

Getting more U-racks installed will not happen until the spring, since the city typically does not do this work in winter and they have no money right now to complete such improvements.
Thanks a lot for your input on this folks.

John Greenfield
this is a great thread. my $.02 : I hate locking to a meter (or any single piece item) if the bike can be
twisted around and have the wheel extend over the curb (just asking for trouble). I prefer to lock
to a fence or gate; in many cases I just take my bike into an establishment (and I wear earphones
to conveniently ignore people telling me I cannot) and put it by a security camera and ensure I
can always see it at all times.

the "ring's" are great btw...

DB
It's a shame that they didn't leave more than 1/6 of the meters behind, especially considering the budget problems will likely mean fewer and fewer u-rack installations for the near future. I've always found meters to be perfect to lock to if you use a mini ulock and a strong security cable for the wheels and saddle. I see a lot more people being forced to lock to parking and bus stop signs now, which can often be pulled out of the ground after removing a single nut at the bottom of the poll. Sketchy, but people don't really have a choice now in some areas.

Can't remember the source, but I thought I read somehwere that the removed meters aren't really worth anything--besides scrap metal value--because so many cities are switching over to pay box systems. The lack of bike parking is definitely noticeable and a problem in areas like Wicker Park and Lakeview. One meter and one or two u-racks per block to lock up to just doesn't cut it in these areas.

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