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Locate Bike Racks Near Building Entrances

November 27, 2012 Bicycling, Featured 13 Comments

Public bike racks, if existent at all,  often end up in the worst locations.

ABOVE: Cyclist secured their bike as close to the entry as possible while empty bike racks bookend benches in the middle of the 900 block of Washington Ave.
ABOVE: close up of the bike

Maybe the engineers/designers of the streetscape thought someone would bike downtown to sit on a bench and face another bench? Several of these bike racks in adjacent blocks have been removed because their placement interfered with cafe seating and pedestrian flow.

Bike parking needs to be obvious as to use, visible to others, and near building entrances.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "13 comments" on this Article:

  1. Bryon says:

    What happened here is no different than what happens when you ask a rich person from suburbia to design a city. Money gets thrown around by and to people who have no personal experience with what they claim to know everything about.

    • Scott Jones says:

      “The city is so ugly! It needs more pointless lawns and surface parking!” – clueless CEO (or SLU administrator)

    • andrelot says:

      If you have the proper technical training, you don’t need “personal experience” to be able to work in a field. Urban design is a technical job, you can learn that from a degree even if you always lived in a farm.

      • JZ71 says:

        Yes, but personal experience helps you understand the nuances, to be better at doing your job, better at balancing the conflicting priorities that define urban living.

  2. Eric says:

    The empty bike rack is only about 20 feet to the right of the pole – an insignificant distance. Apparently this biker considers the pole to be no worse than the rack (and maybe better – the rack does not look like a good one to me).

    In fact it is probably better not to put potential obstacles immediately opposite the building entrance, since that is where pedestrian congestion is more likely to develop. So this may be the ideal layout.

  3. Downtown2007 says:

    The benches are also intervene with the ability to lock the bikes up on the racks. As you can see the one on the right it’s right on top of the bench.

  4. JZ71 says:

    Do you know if this cyclist went into this building entrance? Or, are you just assuming? It may be as simple as the pole was perceived to be the more secure thing to lock to.

  5. Steven Vance says:

    50 feet rule!. What you’re describing (parking at a insufficient object when better ones are further away) I dumbly named “Bike Parking Phenomenon A“. It happens nearly everywhere: a person will lock their bike to a fixture that’s less secure than fixtures further away from their destination. This is why you see bikes locked to trees, locked to benches, trash cans, sign poles (that can be removed with a single bolt), and handrails. This tells me that proximity (a proxy for convenience) is more important than security.

  6. Terence D says:

    I live downtown and bike fairly often – from just a few blocks on a quick errand to across the city and sometimes even beyond. I rarely have an issue with finding something secure to lock up to. I don’t really mind walking 50 feet or more though from my bike to the entrance of where ever I’m going.

  7. JZ71 says:

    Side issue – empty benches. Are they even used? Or are they just bling, street decoration? Most people will use a bench to sit and contemplate the world, in a park or overlooking a water or scenic feature. Some will need to sit and catch their breath. What purpose do these two really serve here? Who wants to sit, for any length of time, <5' away from moving traffic?!

    • Bench use, like bike racks, depends on location. I rarely see anyone at these benches but the two across the street are used often since they’re adjacent to a bus stop.

      • Eric says:

        That’s another issue, seating at bus stops. If some stops happen to be near benches and the benches are used, what about the stops that aren’t near benches, are people just supposed to stand? At the bus stop I currently use on the way to work (no not in the St Louis area) there are often 10+ people standing with the only bench full. Standing on buses is sometimes unavoidable due to system issues (capacity and labor cost), but benches are extremely cheap relatively speaking, there is no reason not to supply enough in central urban areas.

        • JZ71 says:

          Not so cheap to buy (for good quality) and requires on-going maintenance (subject to repeated vandalism). Side issues include vagrants sleeping on them (NIMBY) and trash. One functional solution (but not all that “pretty” / not allowed by many cities) are advertising benches: http://benchad.com/


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