The Indignity of Bike Parking: Providence Station

There’s been quite a bit of condo development in downtown Providence in the last 10 years, and although some of it is for people who work downtown, you can be certain that much of it was built with the hope that people would use the MBTA (or Amtrak) to commute into Boston. A $400,000 one-bedroom condo with $600/mth maintenance fee can start to look affordable when you compare it to a condo in the South End (but it still seems ludicrous to me). I don’t pretend to know the statistics on this, but it’s certain that a large number of people take the 65 minute train ride to Boston on a daily basis. And by the looks of the bike racks, quite a few of them ride their bikes to the station.

There are a number of bike hitching posts at the station, and they are even somewhat protected from the elements by an overhang. As is often the case in urban bike parking situations, there’s one or two obviously abandoned bikes:

Aside from that wasted parking space, it seems that every other parking spot is taken whenever I happen by the station in the daytime.  I guess anyone arriving for a later train is left with the dregs:

Is this bike even locked?

Let’s take a closer look at this so-called bike rack and you’ll see what I’m talking about. As you can see, it’s only holding three bikes. I wonder why that is?

Ah yes, because all of the interior bars have been ripped out in order to steal the bikes! I always thought this was a bad design for a rack because it makes you rub your bike against the bar if you were to hitch your bike up and over the rack. Turns out it’s also a bad design because it’s easy to rip out the bars and steal the bikes. Meanwhile, underneath this plaza area there’s a parking garage with 330 spaces for cars. Where does that leave the bikes? I think our friend the bike rack has a sticker that sums it up:

So far, in the course of this blog, I’ve largely avoided any discussion of how they do things over there. You know, in Europe. There are far too many bike blogs where Amsterdam & Copenhagen are discussed as if they are promised lands of urban transportation cycling. I think that there are just too many cultural and structural differences between European countries and North America (yes, I’m looking at you, Canada) to make a relevant comparison.  However, I came upon this picture of bike parking in at the railroad station in Groningen, The Netherlands – a town of less than 200,000 people.

This picture comes from A View From the Cycle Path. The post is about whether or not 6000 bike parking places is adequate for the station. All right, that should be the last time I make comparisons with a European city for this year. I’ll just continue to pine for Portland.

Coming soon: my attempt to commute by bike in my homeland: Johnson County, Kansas!

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4 responses to “The Indignity of Bike Parking: Providence Station

  1. but in Europe they give cyclists fines! http://www.lavanguardia.es/ciudadanos/noticias/20100528/53936315359/barcelona-impone-siete-multas-diarias-a-ciclistas-guardia-urbana-pp-alberto-fernandez-diaz-francesc-.html Bet you haven’t gotten any fines here. There, doesn’t that make the US look good?

    • I’ve never gotten a fine here on my bike, but I’ve never gotten a ticket in a car either. Of course, I break the law on a regular basis on my bike (rolling stop signs, brief rides on sidewalks), but I (and 95% of drivers) also break the law when I drive a car by speeding at 5-10 mph over the limit (as well as rolling the occasional stop sign). I’d say that we could use better enforcement of the rules of the road for cyclists in the US. In fact, I’d welcome more enforcement. I think it would be better if the police gave tickets to cyclists who blow through lights or stop signs (when there is auto or pedestrian traffic around). As it is, the Providence police pay zero attention to cyclists. I’ve seen a cop doing “detail” at a construction site who was waving cars by, then saw me coming and specifically turned around and looked away from me as I approached. I think we’d all be safer if the rules were enforced a little better – tickets for biking on the wrong side of the streets for example.

  2. Pingback: Worst. Intersection. Ever. « Car-Free in PVD

  3. Pingback: The Indignity of Bicycle Parking: Eastside Marketplace | Car-Free in PVD

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