Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bike rack blunders

They've started to install the bike racks on Preston where they've finished the reconstruction. (The art racks on Bank have yet to be installed, though triangular racks have been there since December). These will be very important as the City eventually replaces the parking meters with Pay & Display units.

Here's one of the new Ring & Post racks on Preston:

As any cyclist will plainly notice, there are a number of problems with the rack.

First and foremost, it's too close to the wall to accommodate more than one bike, even though the ring-and-post racks are designed for two bikes. The definitive guidelines on proper bike rack selection and installation is published by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals in an easy-to-read 8-page PDF.

Second, it's made with fairly thin metal, and third, it's only bolted to the ground, as you can see in this shot:

I was easily able to shake it a bit loose by hand, which means these racks will stat to fall apart pretty quickly.

The sad thing is, the City knows better.

A number of years ago, when Bank Street was redeveloped in Old Ottawa South, they installed racks very similar to this one in front of the Mayfair:

They are no match for snowplows and drivers who inadvertently "park" their cars on the sidewalk.

In the Glebe, they tried embedding the posts into the pavers, with similar results.

When they rebuilt Richmond Road through Westboro, they tried something that has held out a lot better. A three-inch diameter bollard was embedded into the sidewalk on either side of every tree. The ones that weren't right next to a driveway were installed with a bike parking ring attached. The post was then filled with poured concrete.

Solid stuff. Here's one near Westboro Station:

So it's disappointing to see the City reverting to the worst design of the ones they've tried.

But at least they are installing bike racks. When you don't have enough bike parking to accommodate your patronage, you get problems like this cluster at the Bronson Centre:

You also have to install secure racks. This "wheelbender" kind makes it hard to lock anything other than the front wheel, an invitation to thieves, asone cyclist learned the hard way here:

(Hint: if you're trying to get management to upgrade wheelbender racks, point out that they have a low profile and are a tripping hazard in the dark. The ones at uOttawa were replaced very shortly after this was mentioned to the right decision-maker)

And even though you can secure your bike to the rack, you have to make sure the rack itself is secure. This one, installed at the Canal Royal Oak last summer, is only secured by a very flimsy chain. Since it's behind the building, it's entirely possible for someone to pull up a pickup truck, cut the chain, and take the rack and bikes together (and yes, this does happen).

In the meantime, bike--and park--safely!


  1. After reading this post, I don't think I'm ever locking my bike up again, I'll just take it in where-ever I'm going!

    Seriously, though, good post. Lots of good things to check for when parking your bike somewhere for a few hours.

  2. Heh, I guess I *am* lucky to be able to bring my bike inside, both at home and at work.

  3. My pet peeve about mis-placed bike racks is when people orient them perpendicular to the wall, so half the spots are inaccessible. Grr!