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.