CapMetro here in Austin is testing out a new bike ‘parking product’ that shelters bikes from weather, theft, and vandalism. it is entirely stupid.
Let’s start with the positives:
- it is made of recycled plastic and steel (in what percentages? post-industrial or post-consumer?);
- it protects the bike from weather – something every other bike rack is sorely lacking;
- it acts as the bike lock and protects the entire bike, not just the frame and perhaps a single wheel
ok, great. now here’s why it’s stupid:
- look at the footprint. it takes up the same amount of space for one of these ‘parking’ spots as it does for at least 2, maybe 3 bikes.
- it is hideously ugly. it looks like a public restroom door partition.
- it’s cumbersome. basically that whole thing pivots on the steel frame at the bottom. so you, the user, will have to swing that thing up off your bike when you’re ready to go. now imagine a bunch of those next to each other – you’re going to have to space them out a bit. that means even less overall bike storage than the already low ‘parking product’ to standard bike rack ratio.
one good alternative already comes to mind – a pavilion. just like a bus stop, some sort of an overhanging roof is really all that is needed to protect from most weather. it keeps the sun and most of the rain off the bikes. you can pack more bike parking spots into the same amount of space w/ standard bike racks under a roof than you can w/ these upside down plastic bowls. standard locks and good lighting remain as theft deterrents. i mean, if the ‘parking product’ above is free to use, as CapMetro says it is, that means that you’re somehow locking it down w/ your own lock. that means that as a theft deterrent, all this thing does is physically cover your bike and secure it w/ the same lock you would already be using anyway.