14 January 2009

Bike Parking

Boston bike covered in showThere is no doubt but that parking your bike outside in a Boston winter means that your bike will be ruined. If the snow doesn't get it the snow plows will. It is sad to go about town right now. I see so many bikes I want to rescue like little lost puppies.

bicycle parking Boston winter snow
I don't think even covering the entire bike in shopping bags will protect it enough. I can't imagine dashing to the store on this bike, you'd spend more time removing plastic bags! Though I suppose then you'd then have them to carry your shopping...

Boston bike covered in shopping bags to protect it for winter
I was surprised to see that Back Bay Station is filled to overflowing with bikes taking shelter from the elements. I photographed the orderly section, there are sections that look like tent cities, it's a real refuge camp for bikes.

bikes sheltered in Back Bay Station Boston

Cambridge winter bike storageI got to thinking (entrepreneurs, listen up!) that there must be a market for paid bike parking in Boston. And indeed there is, sort of. This fellow on Craigslist will store your bike for $25/month. That's better than letting it decay, but leaves your bike in someone's basement in Cambridge all winter. Not much use beyond preservation.

OK, it seems to me that parking garages and train stations can make some good money, and get some seriously good "green" PR by offering bike parking in their space. Most garages have dead space available along a wall or behind the pay station, but even if they had to dedicate a single parking space to the endeavor it would pay for itself and more. The bike shed provided by my employer hangs the bikes to a locking hook (pictured below) and by staggering the heights we get one bike per linear foot and a half, or something like that. If anyone is interested I can talk to Facilities and get details.

I imagine that a garage could charge something like $30+/month and easily fit more than 10 bicycles into a space currently renting for $300/month, making the garage money relative to a single car. In addition the garages could then hype their green credibility and the people of Boston could arrange to have useful, dry, accessible, safe bicycles to ride. Seems like a win for everyone.

bicycle parking

19 comments:

antbikemike said...

Great post:) Good bike parking is the future for going by bike!

JPTwins said...

Great post. Two points:
1. the garage that sacrifices a space could actually use the area behind or next to the big awkward pillars that support the garage itself. Cars can't fit there, but I'm sure paying bikes could.

2. Most places I've worked (suburbs) have no bike parking, and it's okay to bring your bike into your cube. Granted, that's no help when it's covered with slush and salt, but my commutes have always been too far to ride in the winter.

spiderleggreen said...

Nice shots of those poor bikes. That one in the pile, hurt to look at. Outdoor winter bike parking is a hazardous proposition.

For more bikes in the snow check out this Flickr group.
http://www.flickr.com/groups/929332@N20/

Charlotte said...

JPTwins, that is true of many places, however I work in lab facility and we're not allowed to bring bikes in at all, salt or not.

Bike parking infrastructure makes all the difference in my commute. I feel really blessed at home and at work.

Anonymous said...

Hanging your bike by its wheels is bad news. Hanging it by the frame is fine, but wheels are mysteriously not designed to take that kind of pressure, even though they take a beating safely while being ridden!

Charlotte said...

Anonymous,

I'd like to see some data to back up your claim. This has been widely disputed and never verified. My bike has been hanging like this for two years, another was hanging in a garage much longer. The wheels are not even slightly out of true.

Maybe I'm just lucky! But if so there's someone out there with proof that hanging their bike posed a problem.

Charlotte said...

Anonymous, the best I've come up with is a post by Jobst Brandt, something of an authority when it comes to the Bicycle Wheel.

He says hanging a bike is fine.

The only caveat I've found is for 1. bikes with hydraulic brakes and 2. extraordinarily heavy bikes with cheap wheels left for decades without moving.

BAS said...

Hm, I'm not sure I like that second picture (dirty snow + bike). I'm sure they wouldn't pile snow on top of a car, but than again that bike is probably considered illegally parked?

Shawsheen said...

Great Post! I especially get the lost puppy reference. I have hard time not buy too many bikes. We also store bicycles for $1 a day, but more seasonal than short term. Our storage place is indoors heated same place we keep some of our stock!

letsgorideabike said...

Yes, there's definitely a market for that in cities. I pay $25 a month to park in the Chicago Bike Center downtown and that's only during the workday (although it includes shower, which I've never used).

I've been seeing more of those vertical bike parking spaces and I hope they don't take over too much. There's no way I could lift my Dutch bike up there!

Charlotte said...

letsgorideabike -
It's easier than it seems. The trick is that you don't lift anything, you roll the bike up the wall. There's a moment when you're trying to get it on the hook that's a little bothersome, but I've been known to roll it back down and try again. With practice it seems like nothing at all!

Freewheel said...

I think underground garages should be required to set aside space for bike parking. As JPTwins points out, it can be done without sacrificing car spaces.

Is it possible to look chic while riding in really cold weather?

Danielle said...

There's a bike I pass frequently... a gorgeous old bike I've coveted for months. It's stood, locked to a side-street signpost, obviously untouched, for a couple of months. I keep thinking perhaps it's been abandoned, but it's near a university so maaaaybe the owner is away on break. Every time I walk by it now, I think, "Your owner is not treating you well. You should be mine." Wah.

Anonymous said...

Boston should look at the bike parking widely available in Portland Oregon.

Samuel said...

In so many ways I would be happy to pay for bike parking, but only in the hope that I would get something more secure and dry for the money (not hard to beat street level rack parking).

Winter is a great time to find orphan bikes on campus. I just need to find a way to be able to remove and keep them.

Kate said...

Hey Charlotte, Ferris Wheels Bike Shop in JP now provides Winter Bike Storage---$50 for lubrication and storage, from November until March 31st. call 617-524-2453 for details. You can also get your bike tuned-up and make payments on it bit by bit over the winter.

Charlotte said...

Hi Kate,
That's a nice offer, but I want to USE my bike over the winter! I still think we need accessible covered bike parking dispersed throughout the city and designed so that users can access their bikes.
Don't get me wrong, $50 is a great price, but personally I'd hate to pay to be without my bike. :(

kate said...

I definitely hear you about not wanting to give up your bike for the winter. I suppose this kind of storage is best for people who don't ride their bikes at all during the winter. Do you have any tips on not looking like a total doofus when you gear up for winter riding? I can't seem to get that one down.

Anonymous said...

The Dutch Bicycle Co (dutchbikes.us) has a storage facility for bikes in Somerville. You can still use your bike on nice days if you like.