There 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.
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...
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.
I 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.