Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Design this!

There's a competition to design a better bike rack. I'm going to win. Here's my submission: a parking meter. The resemblance to my middle finger is not an accident. The fact that it can be used for other fun non-bike related activities in only a plus.

We don't need a new bike rack. There are plenty of great bike rack designs in the world. Many are pictured on this blog. The Sydney lamppost rack is probably best (and cheapest) for NYC.

I like more racks that hold fewer bikes. Bike with lots of racks are easier to steal from. And disassembled bikes are more likely to languesh there forever. Plus there is always a lamppost around when you need one.

Just yesterday I rode to the V train on Steinway. V is for Victory (and a rush hour seat)! I noticed a new sign on the grating around the subway staircase saying locked bikes will be removed. My second thought was what a nice souvenir that would make. Alas, it's welded and not screwed on. So while I couldn't steal the sign, I did lock my bike right by the sign (it wasn't removed).

The problem, of course, is that there is nowhere to lock your bike! And now that parking meters are gone (or soon to be gone), where am I supposed to lock my bike? Sign posts aren't really safe. And most are taken by delivery bikes.

You might think that the city would actually want me to bike to the subway. So why not put bike racks by the subway stops? The perfect location is on the back (non-stair) side of the staircase is the perfect location. You can't walk through it. And it's right by the subway stop. Instead, they say no bike parking.

It got me to thinking. Since I moved to this great city in 2002, my biking experience has only gotten worse. Perhaps the city is more bike friendly now than then. That's what T.A. would have you believe. Maybe it is in parts of Brooklyn.

But not for me. Not in Astoria. There has been no improvement to my bike ride. There is no new bike lane I can take on my commute to work. There is still no way I can bike through Central park even though I go right by it. There is still no way I can bike off the Queens' side of the Queensboro bridge without going into traffic (Despite the fact there are two unused traffic lanes: one closed off and another for illegally parked cars).

In many small but important way, things are worse. In order of importance:
1) There is now less on-street bike parking.
2) There is now a gate on the Manhattan side of the Queensboro Bridge preventing access to 2nd Avenue and all points South.
3) There is now a citywide campaign of bicycle harassment that involves arrest, ticketing, and confiscation.
4) The worlds poorest designed speed bump (a lump of asphalt) have appeared on many side streets in Astoria. They make me now bike on the streets if I'm riding fast. In Amsterdam, there are bike friendly speed bumps that slow down cars and yet are actually fun to bike over.

Maybe one day things will be better. But until then, I'll just be a rebel.


Anonymous said...

Preach it loud bruddah!

Queensboro Bridge: They need to do something about access on both sides. I don't want to be a wrong way cyclist either.

Astoria bike lanes? Well... they just dotted the lanes on 35th St! Finally, a bike lane on a street I actually ride on! Wait... I was about to get excited but realized I only use 3 blocks of it.

Oh well, a little something to get excited about I guess.

-just another astorian straddling the saddle of a pothole bouncing two wheeled steed

PCM said...

35th St has been striped for a few years. Did they add a part I don't know?

I love how it ends for no good reason and doesn't actually take you anywhere.

And of course there's no bike line going in the other direction, north. I think I read somewhere that there was community opposition. Greeeat.

Anonymous said...

36th was striped, 35th wasn't. Still isn't, just the dotted lines. Bike boxes too...

Still hasn't solved the fact that it starts/ends at 34th Ave and the 36th St southbound route drops you into the speedway that is Astoria Blvd...

- just another astorian trying not to get flattened by crossing Astoria Blvd or 21st Street to get to the park...

PCM said...

You are so right. I was biking home tonight when I realized indeed that 36th St is south and 35th St is what we've been waiting for. But I live off 33rd St., so I'll still probably stay on 28th St going north from the bridge. But I suppose at least now I can bike in bike lane both ways going to Walt's Hardware on Broadway.

Why isn't every street in Astoria bike laned? I mean, they are pretty much all one lane of traffic in two lanes of street. All it takes is a line of paint. Hell, I'd even do it myself (not a bad idea...).

dee said...

pcm, brilliant idea.
guerilla bike lane striping: any takers?

Dan Webster said...

bummer about not having a place to lock your bike at the subway. in Vancouver, where I live, they have bike lockers under our mass rail stops you can rent for $10/month...great for me, since it rains so much here. I ride there and store my gear in there too. I think it's subsidized by advertisers...

PCM said...

For guerilla bike lane striping, we need somebody with one of them machines. Who's got connections?

Bike lockers make sense if there's a big parking lot by the transportation. But here we're just talking staircases down. Just a simple object to which to lock a bike...

And yes, 35th Steet is official! Just 4 years after its southbound partner on 36th, a line of paint has been rolled out. In celebration, cars are already double parking! (though I’ll take an abused bike lane over none at all). Too bad it doesn’t actually go anywhere.

Interestingly, it's on the right, unlike every other bike lane in NYC. I can't figure out if being on the right or left is better.

Annoyingly, it too stops at Kaufman Astoria Studios. What do they have against bike lines and why do they have the clout to prevent the city from painting a line on "their" street. Well, I know why they have the clout, but why do they care? Why don’t these lanes go the bridge, or anywhere?

[And up in that earlier comment I meant 29th St. going north, not 28th St.]

JO said...

meters work fine by me. do they ever remove bikes from there?

maybe you can lock up other devices to the subway station. see if they get taken away.

PCM said...

No, they don't remove bikes from meters. But they're removing all the meters. Damn.

I think the best option (which isn't being considered) is to attach bike racks to existing structures, like street lamps.

Martino said...

May I suggest: http://web.net/~lukmar/UrbanRepairSquadManual.pdf


PCM said...

Martino, that's outstanding! Thanks.