« East Side of the Anacostia | Main | Seven Locks Road Debate »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Here's an idea that Arlington's brilliant Bike Promotions Manager, Paul DeMaio, came up with.

From Paul's web site http://www.bikearlington.com/parking.cfm "...As part of the multi-space meter pilot program, Arlington has removed the existing coin-operated parking meter heads, leaving behind poles without a purpose, until now. Seeing an opportunity, innovative members of the BikeArlington team have installed two new test bike racks onto the vacant poles, providing a secure parking spot for two bikes each."

The test has proved successful and the County has ordered more of these racks. Why not try them in Adams Morgan? Check the link out above for an explanation and pictures.

We're having the same problem in Boston, as the city Transportation Department did not anticipate that removing old meters would in effect reduce bike parking:


The original U locks were designed with parking meters in mind. They were wide enough to go around the pole, but not wide enough to go up over the meter itself. Also, the correct usage is to remove the front wheel (assuming a QR)place it next to the real wheel on the side of the bike opposite the chain, and between the bike and the meter post. then put the full size U lock through both wheels inside the rear triangle and around the pole and lock it. It is not necessary to have any of the bike tubes or stays inside the U lock.

Yeah Chris, I mentioned that once before.


When I was in Seattle this summer, I saw them everywhere. They call them lollipops.

Toronto uses similar "post and ring" bike locking stations. In fact, they look a lot like the Arlington parking spots, only beefier.

Unfortunately, thieves can pop the rings off in seconds with a 2x4, and then lift the bike off. Read about it here:

I wish you would stop demonizing locking to parking meters. I get it that you don't like using them. That's OK, that's your choice. One of the beautiful things about cycling is that there are lots of styles and methods, and everyone gets to choose what works for them. But lay off those who make a different choice.

Why? There are a lot of people who just don't like bikes, and they don't like seeing them ridden on the streets, and they don't like seeing them locked on the sidewalk. When you say that locking to a parking meter creates a dangerous situation -- a ridiculous assertion -- you give ammunition to those who would rather our streets were rid of bicycles. In DC, on paper at least, cyclists have exceptional rights. They can lock to almost any item that's installed in a sidewalk, or to the side of any building that fronts on a sidewalk. "Advocacy" like yours leads to a city where we get a few bike racks, but we're prohibited from locking anywhere else. There is no way that the city would ever put in enough bike racks to make that a fair deal.

Same deal with bike lanes and bike paths -- it's fine to advocate for facitilies, but don't do it by demonizing on-street riding (which you're prone to do). Remember, the beauty of cycling is that you have choices. Respect the choices of those who disagree with you.

Wait a minute - WashCycle is demonizing on-street riding?

I think I’ve either done a poor job of communicating my position on things, or you’re reading something into my writing that isn’t there.

I reread my post and I don’t see why you think I’m demonizing locking to parking meters. I have criticized parking meters. The fact that locks had to be designed specifically for them is indicative of their flaws. They make for adequate bike parking but, like I said, they’re less than ideal. That’s a long way from demonic. I have not criticized those who park to parking meters. I think that’s fine. The League of American Bicyclists even recommends it to bike commuters and I agree. There is no need for me to lay off those who do, because I haven’t laid into them.

The Glover Park study made the assertion that that locking to a parking meter creates a dangerous situation, I merely agreed that it’s possible – though, if so, only in limited cases. I don’t know one way or the other because I have yet to see every parking meter on every street, or to see a definitive study of the question. I do know that an organic operation – which using parking meters is – is less desirable, and carries greater risk, than a designed one. If you are a bicycle parking parking-meter expert and would like to claim that you know that every parking meter everywhere in the world is safe for bike parking I won’t argue with you. Like I said I don’t know, I’m merely conceding the possibility that some are. Perhaps that’s the scientist in me.

I would hope that my advocacy does not lead to a city where bike parking actually becomes constrained, that would be tragically ironic. I would never be OK with such a policy. Of course the utility, safety and appearance of parking meters is a moot point. Soon they will have gone the way of the phone booth and then we’ll have nowhere to park – which was the point of this post.

I REALLY don’t know where I’ve demonized on-street riding. If so I’m quite the hypocrite since I spend well over 90% of my time doing it. Let me state for the record – on-street riding is an integral part of bicycle transportation. Bikes absolutely belong on the streets; and facilities and laws should be designed to allow and protect bikes on streets. In addition every cyclist should work to become comfortable riding safely and courteously in traffic.

The problem is that few of the city employees who are responsible for programs so important to those of us in DC actually live in the city.They assume that everyone is as they are- car commuters. This is a basic problem at the root of the whole mess of DC's gov't.

OK, maybe "demonize" was a poor choice of words. I was trying to come up with a shorthand for the practice of describing as unsafe any practice that is counter to what you are advocating. In this post, and in a prior post, you've made the claim that bicycle parking at parking meters is unsafe. I'll say it once again: that's nonsense.

As I said earlier, there are a lot of people who just don't like cyclists or the bikes they ride. They often use safety as a pretext for anti-cyclist sentiment. The Glover Park study is a classic example. They want parked bicycles off the sidewalk, because they are undignified visual clutter. But that's a self-serving argument, which is poor rhetorical form. However, if you call something unsafe, you wrap yourself in the noble cloak of looking out for the public welfare.

Similarly, you have frequently argued on this blog in favor of bike paths and bike lanes, in the name of safety. Bike lanes have been vigorously debated for 30 years now, and there is no real evidence that they are any safer or less safe than unstriped roads. The evidence hints that bike paths are slightly less safe than roads -- they have a higher accident rate -- but there are a lot of factors to control for. The reality is that the argument for bike lanes and bike paths is not one of safety, but one of comfort and convenience.

I realize it's hard to get high-and-mighty about comfort and convenience, but safety is a poor argument. First, the facts don't support it. Second, it leads down a logical path you don't want to visit. If you argue that the current accomodations are unsafe, and that new facilities need to be built, isn't the logical conclusion that once the new facilities are built, cyclist should be compelled to use them, for their own safety?

Be careful using safety as an advocacy tool, it's a double-edged sword.

I see your point, Contrarian (though I still think you're way overstating and simplifying this blogs message regarding bike paths), but it's sort of beside the point on this particular post. The point is that they are getting rid of parking meters without having any particular plan for bikes to park. Maybe you love to lock up your trusty stead to a parking meter; problem is, parking meters are getting replaced with boxes that are harder to lock up to, and they're dragging their feet building bike racks.

It reminds me of a story quite some time ago -- I was going to meet a friend for a ride early one Saturday morning, and was meeting him at a chain coffee shop (not Starbucks). They had recently removed their bike rack at that location, and there weren't any free parking meters. So I walked in with my bike. It wasn't crowded, so there really wasn't any cause for alarm. It seemed hard to imagine that my road bike, which I always keep very clean anyhow, was going to muck up the tile floor. The manager looked up, and said "Next time, leave your bike outside." My response: "As long as you don't provide anyplace to put a bike, there won't be a next time."

As an addedum to this story, last night while I was waiting for someone at Verizon Center for the hockey game, I noticed that in a period of about 20 minutes or so, no less than 6 people with bikes (3 sets of 2) were told by the security guard outside that alleyway/atrium area where Clyde's is that they could not lock their bikes to any of the light poles. The security guard seemed clueless about the fact that all of the nearby parking meters were already occupied by bikes, and while he was talking to one group, there was another guy locking his bike to a light pole who got away with it. Do you think maybe it's time for this building to consider a bike rack??!

Bike parking in this city is pretty dismal, and the removal of meters has just made it worse. I don't think anyone has said that locking to meters is inherently dangerous, but in areas with narrow sidewalks and heavy foot traffic it can be (18th St. and M St for example). Having a designated bike parking area in those situations would be in everyone's interest. You can't fairly argue that you can confine cars to specific areas, but cyclists can do whatever they want, so long as proper facilities are put in place.

While it may not be proven that bike lanes contribute to cyclists safety, it is proven that they increase bicycle usage along that given corridor, and the more cyclists on the road the more aware motorists are that we're out there.

I still don't understand why DDOT has not put in more racks throughout the city, particularly Gallery Place area. With all the work that was done with lane striping to try and make that area more bikeable, it seems ridiculous you can't actually stop anywhere due to lack of parking facilities. Being able to lock up in Adams Morgan is great, but I like to go other places in the city too.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Banner design by creativecouchdesigns.com

City Paper's Best Local Bike Blog 2009


 Subscribe in a reader