Tag Archives: bike parking

Passive Agressive Signs: Locking to Trees

I was about to duck in to a local coffee shop when I saw this sign on the front door:

I agree, it’s a bad idea to lock your bike to a young tree. You can scrape the bark, break a branch, or a thief can come along and break the tree and take your bike. However, there aren’t any bike racks at this coffee shop. In fact, there aren’t any bike racks in the general vicinity. The shop is in a small shopping district known as Wayland Square. It’s full of small, independent shops and restaurants (and one Starbucks). There’s also plenty of on-street car parking and a couple of off-street lots. In fact, this coffee shop will help you pay for parking your car in one of the lots:

I’ve taken a car to this square a few times (from back when I owned a car, or when I’ve been driven by friends). Whatever car I was in, we always managed to find an on-street space within 2 blocks of our destination. When I bike to this square, I usually make do with locking my bike to a parking sign.

Not the ideal solution, but it gets the job done. By the way, this picture is from over a year ago when I last complained about the lack of bike parking in Wayland Square. I’d like to see this situation improved, but I’m not sure how to go about doing it. I didn’t like the lack of bike parking at the Farmers’ Market, and now Recycle-A-Bike has a program that has helped to alleviate that (thanks to dedicated volunteers like Kim & Mary!) I don’t think that the bike parking demand in Wayland Square is high enough to justify bike valet. I emailed one of the restaurants last year and he basically said “our landlord doesn’t want to do it.” I emailed the landlord and got no response. A couple of days ago, I emailed the coffee shop in question and I have yet to receive a response. I also posted on their facebook wall about the issue – no response their either (granted, their last facebook activity was about a month ago…) I’d prefer to use a positive approach rather than approach the businesses with a gripe – and my email certainly had a positive tone to it. And yet… no response. So, has anyone else had any luck getting businesses to install bike parking?

UPDATE: The Cafe in question now has bike parking, within 3 weeks of my public shaming! Coincidence? You be the judge.

A special new feature for Car-Free in PVD

Wow, who knew that a post about sharrows would be so popular?

Although sharrows are great, if there’s one thing this blog is famous for, it’s pictures of bike parking. I know it’s why so many of you read this blog again and again. You just can’t seem to get enough tales of bad bike parking and pictures of same. Of course, sometimes, cyclists do it to themselves by making some bad parking choices. Example A:

This bike was parked like this for at least 24 hours which means that the owner was either lucky, or the bike thieves in Providence have very good taste, because I recently saw it parked not far from the previous spot, but this time, the owner locked to a post that actually had something at the top of it.

I’ve seen so many poorly locked bikes lately, I think these examples need a special recurring feature on my blog. And thus I present to you:

Barely Locked

Hopefully that will bring a few more hits via the search engines!

The white comfort-cruiser was spared from theft, but I wonder about this bike I documented a few months ago:

The bike was no longer there the next time I rode by, but I noticed that the knot had not been removed, so I can only assume that the bike is safe.

Before I spend too much time criticizing others, I should confess that I too, have fallen to the temptations of barely locking my bike – mostly by accident. There were several times when I lived in Alberta where I would come out of my office to find my bike with just the frame locked to the wheel, comfortably leaning against the bike rack. We call this a “threading” problem. That is, the lock was threaded through my bike, but not the bike rack. Now that I have Pinhead locking skewers, I haven’t made this mistake because I only need to thread the lock through my bike and the rack. However, after an injury-induced 10-week cycling hiatus, I’ve had more than a few suspicions that I failed to properly lock my bike. This usually happens at work, about an hour after I arrive, I start thinking that I may have inadvertently left my bike unlocked. I’ll casually make my way to the lobby and take a peek, pretending that I’m just checking on the weather. No mis-threading yet!

Some people don’t seem too concerned about mis-threading because they don’t even lock their bike to an object, they just lock the wheel to the frame and lean it against a wall. Presumably, they only do this “for just a sec.”

Sometimes they do this with rather expensive, custom-made cyclocross racing bikes. This is known as “free-locking” as in “there may be a lock attached to my bike, but it is free for the taking!” This seems to be popular amongst bike messengers (yes, there are a few in Providence), and since so many of them do it, people seem to respect the free-locked bikes around town.

Remember, when locking your bike to a post, be sure that there is something on the top of the post that will prevent thieves from simply lifting your bike off of the post. Nearby, I saw a bike locked to a post with a “Reserved Parking” sign. It was good that they were locked to a post with something on the top of it, but bad that the post was stuck in the dirt. Nearby, I saw a similar sign post laying on the ground. My guess is that someone pulled it out in order to take a bike locked to it (or to park in a reserved spot with impunity).

That’s all I have for BARELY LOCKED right now. But I’m sure that there will be many opportunities for this feature in the near future. Look for it in truck stop news stands everywhere.

I can’t close a post featuring so much bike parking without complaining about the lack of bike parking at major chain stores, right?

What kind of store sells this many bikes….

…. has this many handicap parking spaces….

…. and offers no bike parking for customers or employees?

Bike Month – Baby Steps

May is officially Bike Month and as a hardcore bicycle commuter, it is my duty to curmudgeonly and smugly declare: “For me, every month is bike month!” As a self-aware bike blogger it is also my duty say “Bike Month is not meant for me, it’s meant for those who could be goaded into biking more!” And thus I shall try to goad you, with a personal tale.

It’s easy for me to say that I’m a hardcore bicycle commuter now. Sure, I’ve been out of commission for the last 6 weeks, but before that, there were only 8 days this winter that I did not ride my bike due to bad weather. Actually, it was more due to street conditions, but those were the result of weather, so let’s just call it weather. Rain doesn’t bother me, snow doesn’t bother me, and because I’ve lived in Edmonton Alberta, I laugh in the face of the coldest temperatures that Rhode Island can throw at me. Sure, my coworkers are impressed when I roll into work wearing snow pants, lobster gloves, a balaclava and a face mask, but I wasn’t always this hardcore.

When I lived in Springfield, MO [shudder] I drove to work, even though it was less than a mile away. When I lived in Boston, sometimes I drove, sometimes I took transit and sometime I biked. Basically, I rode my bike only in good weather. If there was a chance of rain or if the temperature was below 40 degrees, I took my car or the T. When I moved to Edmonton, I became a full-time bike commuter. I wasn’t making much money at the time and when I learned that parking my car at work for the day would eat up more than an hour’s wages, I figured it didn’t make much sense to drive.

My transition from full-time automobile commuter to full-time bike commuter took about 7 years. I dimly remember someone mentioning “a bike to work day” at some point during my Boston years, but I’m not sure it made much of a difference in my biking habits. I didn’t jump straight from my car to my bike. It took a while for me to get used to the idea, so I should expect it to take a while for everyone else. And that’s what Bike Month is about. I recommend giving it a try – one day this week, maybe two days the next week. Maybe stay at two days for a while. Think of how much a tank of gas costs and then think of what you could do with that money. You don’t have to jump in with both feet, selling your car and buying hundreds of dollars in gear. Almost any bike will do for a short ride. Sometimes I think that we spend too much energy trying to get people to bike to work. Instead of biking to work, think of what destinations are less than 2 miles away: the grocery store, pharmacy, liquor store, coffee shop? Put on your backpack and pedal your way down there to pick up a few things. Get yourself an extra muffin as a treat. Besides, it’s been a long, cruel winter….

But now it’s May! There are flowers!

And many more bikes locked up at neighborhood bike racks:

This rack is usually completely empty. It's nice to see it full of bikes.

And many, many more bikes on the street. It’s always nice to see them rolling past me as I wait for the bus. It’s not always so nice to see someone inexplicably riding on the wrong side of a narrow two-way street (Benefit in this case). The young salmon was going about 7 MPH on the left-hand side of the road. I almost took a picture, but I was afraid I would catch her getting hit. Instead I saw several cars get very close to her before the drivers realized that there was a bike on the wrong side of the road. No one honked, strangely enough.

Enough of my crabbiness! More good news!

Three people who visited my office building today came by bike:

One of the visitors (the bike in the middle) arrived on a Circle-A (a local Providence frame builder). Just like all Circle-A’s it had a sweet custom paint job. I was perplexed by the less attractive  rack on the back. I’d think if you are buying a custom frame you could splurge a little bit on the rack. On the near side we have an early 90′s Bianchi (I’m guessing at the age), and on the far side, a Cannondale Hybrid of unknown vintage – I’m guessing it’s fairly new since it’s not plastered with “made in the USA” decals like mine is. As always, our friend the old Pennyfarthing, guards them all.

For me, my collarbone continues to mend, but I’m still a few weeks away from getting back on the bike. I visited the doctor for a follow-up visit which yielded this new X-ray:

They tell me that it’s substantially different from this one:

Evidently, there’s some new bone stitching together the break, but I always have a big bump there. Plus the lightening bolts of pain are gone.

6 weeks down 2 to go!

On The Street with CarFreePVD

Sometimes I wish I was Bill Cunningham, flitting about the streets of New York snapping pictures of the fashionably dressed with my SLR. Instead, I’m a schlub in a sling, riding the bus through Providence, furtively taking pictures with my iPhone camera. (My 2-year-old iPhone camera. Can you imagine?) And instead of taking pictures of the fashionable, I take pictures of cars and bikes in various stages of parking. Exciting, no? It can be exciting if I pretend that I’m a National Geographic photographer, attempting to capture rare animals in their natural environments:

Shhhh. Be very quiet, we’re approaching a Surly Big Dummy rarely seen in the wild – gently nuzzling a no parking sign. It has locked eyes with a Prius and seems to be in some sort of staring contest in order to determine who is more smug.

Riding the bus can lead to an action shot…

… like with this picture of a Honda Fit parked on the sidewalk across the street from the west entrance to the East Side tunnel (taken from the window of a RIPTA bus). Other pictures are less action-packed:

I’m not sure why the BRU Crew was parked here, but I won’t complain too much because it’s more of a walkway adjacent to a parking lot than an actual sidewalk… not as bad as say… parking on the sidewalk in the middle of a downtown square every day.

I’ve seen this bike several times parked in the student ghetto section of College Hill.

I tried shots from several angles, but I was unable to capture the extreme ungainliness of this bike. It’s just oddly proportioned and those BMX-style handlebars aren’t helping.

Hidden bike parking at Brown. It doesn’t seem like a good idea to park a bike here. Looks like plenty of coverage for someone who wants to steal something (not that bike thieves require much coverage).

Not spotted on the street, but discovered on craigslist, this Track-tacular Orange Masi:

orange fixed – track frame
asking $600 – has new campagnolo bottom bracket – and campagnolo crankset
rims and pedals are not included

Looks like you’ll have to provide your own Aerospoke if you want the same look. It’s probably best that the rims aren’t included since this guy evidently doesn’t know how to close a QR skewer:

Sometimes, my camera is not enough and I have to rely on my network of sources.  Andrew of Troy Bike Rescue spotted this on the streets of Troy, NY.

It seems like the new LOOK pedal system is starting to trickle down to the BMX market.

Spouse reports from the Upper Midwest

While I’m out-of-commission, bike-wise, I’ll be relying on some reports from the field by fellow Car-Free in PVD staff members. Staff Member #1, of course, is Spouse. Spouse recently returned from a visit to Madison, WI and Minneapolis, MN. Minneapolis was named bike-friendly city #1 last year, so I was curious to hear about what she saw on her trip. Unfortunately, Spouse still stubbornly refuses to buy a folding bike, so she didn’t get to experience Minneapolis’es bike-friendliness first hand. Instead, she sent me this picture:

This is from the middle of the University of Minnesota campus where a well-marked (and evidently snow-plowed) bike path runs right through the heart of campus.

Meanwhile, back in Providence, I’ve been reduced to taking pictures of Hope Street’s non-existent, non-cleared bike lanes:

Of course, these are not actually bike lanes, they are parking lanes on a signed bike route (Mark Dietrich at RIBike addressed a similar issue recently). It is now April, weeks since the last snow storm requiring salt & sand, and we still have giant sand piles on all of our streets. Just to mock me, Spouse sent me a picture of a Madison bike lane:

It’s a left-hand side, debris-free, non-sandy bike lane, with no parked cars in sight. Damn, that thing is beautiful. Due to the harsh upper-midwestern winters, I’m sure they sand their streets in Madison, so evidently, the city cares enough about cycling that they actually use street sweepers on the bike lanes. Imagine that. We have a left-hand bike lane in Providence – on Promenade/Providence Place and last time I checked, it was still covered in sand. Some people prefer left-hand bike lanes because they allow motorists to pass cyclists in a way where it is easier to see how much room they are giving the cyclists. Also, cars tend to not park on the left-hand side of the street.

Pictured above is a bike lane on an otherwise one-way street. Spouse titled this image “making salmon safe and legal.”

Bicycle Parking Dignity on State Street in Madison, WI

Madison provides excellent bike parking facilities in the State Street area. There’s also specific moped parking spaces. Spouse described State Street as being the equivalent of Thayer Street in Providence (close to the campus, full of restaurants, shops and bars catering to the university and young-adult population) except that it is completely closed to cars. Meanwhile, Thayer Street has ZERO bike parking but several sections of street reserved for motorcyle parking. I will revisit this topic later in the year when we are in the thick of motorcycle season.

Cyclists in Madison are even allowed to make left turns when cars are banned from doing so. However….

…sometimes, even when there’s special bike infrastructure (such as this bike box), the cyclists still like to bend the rules a little bit.

Any idea on when Providence puts out the street sweepers? I recently saw this on Twitter:

That's Matthew Coolidge of the excellent GCPVD.org blog

Time for Providence to catch up with Warwick. What’s that? There’s no money left? Oh well.


The Indignity of Bike Parking: A gordian knot

As you surely know from my recent post, I broke my collarbone riding on the flattest, smoothest section of the East Bay Bike Path. My left arm will be in a sling for the next 4-6 weeks which means that i can only type with my right hand. While some people may enjoy one handed typing, i find that it dents my productivity like a poorly designed bike rack dents an aluminum frame (not that i’m bitter, MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT CO-OP IN EDMONTON!) It also means that i’m going to have a more casual relationship with capitalization, punctuation andd typos. In fact, i’ve updated my email signature thusly:

Due to a broken collarbone, I am typing with one hand. Please excuse the brevity, typos and apparent rudeness in my emails until late April. At that time, I’ll go back to being a jerk just for the hell of it.

But will this temporary handicap keep me from writing in this blog? HELL NO! (the caps lock key seems to work fine, hey?) I’ve got plenty of things to write about, lik my favorite topic: bike parking! Here’s the rack at my office several months ago on an usually busy day:

The big yellow arrow is pointing to a black Raleigh road bike (ca. ’84?) that has been sitting in the rack for over a year. When I returned to work on tuesday, i was greeted with this sight:

Only two abandoned bikes plus the p-far. Well, I can’t really call the green felt curbside abandoned, because i’m sure it will be ridden again. i’ve even seen its owner riding down the street once. The old p-far does look rather lonely down there on the end without my cannondale to keep it company.

To be filed under “bike parking dignity” – these pictures sent to me by a reader from her recent trip to Berkeley:

This was evidently part of someone’s “yarnbombing” project. I almost want to take up knitting just so I could improve some of the racks around here. However, I think that my time would be better spent installing some racks in the neighborhoods that lack them completely. By the way berkeleyites, portland did it first:

One last bike parking item to file in the “we do it to ourselves” folder. One of the rules of locking up your bike is to never lock it to a sapling. An enterprising bike thief could just cut it down and take your bike. As you can see in the image below, the bike in the background is securely locked to a handrail (in fact, i suspect it is abandoned), while the bike in the foreground avoided locking to the sapling and instead locked to one of the sapling’s supports:

And the top of that support is blocked only by a knot:

the owner of this bike better hope there aren’t any boy scout-trained bicycle thieves in the area. or someone with a knife. or someone who can pull the support out of the ground.