R-E-S-P-E-C-T: DOT to Install Sleek New Bike Parking Shelters

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While the NYPD, Parks Department, MTA, unnamed authorities and, of course, bike thieves, busily clip locks and cart off New Yorkers’ bicycles in great number, the Department of Transportation is making sure that not only do bike commuters have a classy spot to park outdoors, but their tushies won’t get wet when it rains. Next month, cyclists will be happy to see the first of many new public bike-parking shelters popping up near transit hubs throughout the city. Word has it there was a bit of flexibility built in to the Cemusa bus shelter contract and DOT decided to get a bit creative and try this out. New York Magazine reports:

The structures are from the same company that’s installing those adorable new bus stops around town. As you can see, they look very similar, except they’ve removed the side and rear panels for easy access for up to eight bikes. (And their ad panels will show off the city bike map or reminders to pedal safely.) The Art Commission approved the design yesterday, and the contractor will build the first 5 of 37 at commuting hubs. Look for them at 17th and Broadway, DeKalb and Flatbush, Pelham Parkway and White Plains Road, Jackson Avenue at 50th Street in Long Island City, and the St. George Ferry Terminal.

And, hey, it only took eight years. The Department of City Planning Transportation Division recommended the installation of sheltered bike parking in its 1999 Bicycle Parking Needs report:

Where space is available, the installation of CityRacks should be accompanied by the installation of a protective canopy that offers shelter from the weather. Such a shelter could be modeled after the New York City bus shelter. In addition to weather protection, such a shelter would offer the advantage of raised public awareness.

Streetsblog has been a big admirer of other city’s bike parking shelters for some time (Brussels, Bogota). It’ll be nice to see other cities admiring New York City.

  • d

    This is nice, but it’s not going to get me to ride my bike to work.

    What has been holding me back has never been the thought that my bike would be exposed to rain during the day, but that it is exposed to theft! I could care less about my cheap bike getting wet, but it’s a hassle if it’s stolen.

    What is needed is either secure bike parking, rules forcing buildings to provide secure space for bike commuters, or some combination of both. (Streetfilms has profiled such systems in Chicago and San Francisco.)

    I think it’s great PR and will help raise visibility that people do ride their bikes in this city, but it’s a very small step and won’t do much to get more people on their bikes.

  • ddartley

    I hear you, d. But, this might create the Pullman Car effect–where the service/amenity LOOKS nice and respectable, so people–even unexpectedly–feel good using it and treat it well.

    I’d be very disappointed, though, if they just plan on taking away pedestrian space to do this. These should ALL (well, as much as possible) be on build-outs or other reclamations of former car space.

  • Vroomfondel

    I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but are five shelters with room for eight bikes each actually going to make a difference? Even if all 37 shelters get built, they’ll accommodate a mere 296 bikes. Wouldn’t it make more sense to choose a less luxurious design with greater capacity?

  • Ed

    Hey, it’s a pilot program – the DOT is “trying this out”. Just a year ago, the DOT trying anything like this out seemed unimaginable. All us cyclists know what we want – manned, sheltered, secure, 24-hour bicycle parking. But one step at a time.

    This is definitely an improvement over a wavy pole in the ground. I applaud the effort.

  • Chris in Sacramento

    I like it! Now we’ll have to work on placing them in-street.

  • Boogiedown

    I’m with you Vroomfondel, this looks like a plan that will benefit Cemusa and its advertisers, not bikers. Certainly not pedestrians. If New Yorkers take to bikes in any meaningful numbers, the city would be full of these shelters. There’d be no room to walk. Can you imagine how many of these would be required in a city like Copenhagen? This is not a logical plan. Not only that, but how dry are they going to keep your bike, anyway?

  • Not a Car Fan

    Worth a try. It’s important in raising the profile. Of course I’d prefer storing my bike inside the building in a secured area.

  • Hilary

    Having bikes concentrated like this might justify a camera to capture theft and graffiti vandalism. Maybe that’s the reason they’re doing it – using the bikes as bait!

  • I see this really as a first step toward establishing space dedicated for bike parking or a bike sharing program on NYC streets

  • Steve

    Certainly a great symbolic step forward if not one of immediate practical significance. I am a bit surprised that Penn Station and Port Authority Bus Station don’t rate in the select group of “transit hubs” that get these on a pilot basis.

  • Hilary

    Wouldn’t angle parking be more space-efficient than this design? It’s a lot of sidewalk to store half a dozen bikes.

  • Yiz

    I welcome any structure that blocks the view of Duane Reade stores, as the one above does.

  • Boogiedown

    I disagree, Glenn. The bike parking on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg is a much better first step toward establishing space dedicated for bike parking or a bike sharing program on NYC streets. This is an advertising gimmick and nothing else.

  • A Walker

    This is backwards. Pedestrians are treated like garbage in this town. The more crud they can get off the sidewalk the better. Billburg bike parking swaps car parking for bike parking. This takes walking space for bike parking.

  • VMGillen

    My vote: save the sidewalk! Our city shouldn’t create permanent obstructions of public space, and surely we don’t need more ads.

    This is a bone they’re throwing to us, to show they’re “with the program” and encouraging bicycling. Get real! Give us bike lanes! Give regular commuters secure parking. And don’t forget the outer boroughs!

  • Jill

    After 5 yrs of riding, I’ve always found parking eventually (even on Bedford where I often park) but I’ve had TONS of trouble w/ theft (I’ve lost 2 bikes in 2 yrs). The theft problem should be the number 1 issue to be solved! I would ride more if there were more safe places to keep my bike.

    Also, there should be some way to limit bike “parking” — tons of seemingly abandoned bikes around Bedford & other places (many are rusted and some stripped) are clogging up some prime lock-up spots.

  • v

    naw, i’m impressed with this. it’s not the be-all end-all of biking infrastructure, certainly, but it’s a good step. it’s not the right way to do things *everywhere* in the city, but whatever. bike parking near transit hubs is sorely needed.

  • Looks like a waste of money. Like some other commenters above have suggested, put more bike parking in car parking spots. This is just ad space. Security of course is the biggest issue – but that’s a very tough problem to solve – certainly this thing doesn’t do much for that. It will create another advertising panel however, which is why I bet DOT is doing it.

  • Cycle Punk

    all you whiners who say you’d bike more if theft wasn’t such a problem: i’m not buying it. get a bike that doesn’t look fancy, a good lock, and never leave it on the street over night. yeah, theft is real and sucks, but don’t use it as an excuse to not ride.

  • These bike shelters are great, they really legitimize biking as a mode of transport.

  • d

    I’ve had three non-fancy bikes stolen in one year. I had a darn good lock, attached them to secure posts, and I NEVER left my bikes out overnight. I rode them to work, so the bikes were on the street between the hours of 9 and 6. The bikes only cost about $50 each, but how many times can I do that?

    In the future, I’ll wait to ride to work until I can park my bike inside.

  • sabrina

    Two words: BAIT BIKES

    The program uses technology from Nero Global Tracking of Vancouver and was originally introduced in Victoria, B.C., where police credit it with a 19 per cent decrease in bicycle thefts in a six-month period. The GPS beacon bounces a signal to a satellite that allows police to track the movement of the bicycle with specialized computer software, making it possible for them to apprehend thieves and recover the bait. The program also acts as a deterrent, since there is no way for a thief to identify which bikes may be equipped with the GPS.

  • shishi

    How hard is it to take auto parking for bike parking? We need to keep the sidewalks as free from obstructions as possible. As someone who commuted in everyday by bike, I think this design is very flawed in many ways.

  • Jonathan

    Geez, only eight out of 23 comments are positive. We’re not building a city here from scratch, but trying to improve the city that we already have. Everyone knows those bus shelters have their drawbacks (their being uniformly ugly is at the top of my list), but having several actual structures for parking will help all New Yorkers see that bicycling is an attractive and legitimate way to get around. Thank you, Ethan, for making this point. A little shed is a nice amenity for bicyclists and sure beats locking up to parking meters or signposts.

    On the theft issue, if you read the NYPD guide to preventing auto theft, they point out that cars are very attractive to steal because they can be driven away by themselves and their parts are in steady demand. It seems to me that bikes share the same virtues (and more so, because they don’t need ignition keys).

    Absent a technological solution like Sabrina’s, I think that d’s choice not to commute by bike is a reasonable response to fears of theft, just as some people don’t want to park their cars overnight in sketchy neighborhoods. But I don’t think that those fears should influence the city against making more innovations like this one. The perfect can be the enemy of the good, and I for one feel that having more bike parking around, even if it’s not 100% secure, is still a good thing.

  • is your therapist on vacation?

    “…the city would be full of these shelters. There’d be no room to walk.”

    Wow, many reactionary reactions to a long-overdue reactive project. This proposal is not perfect, but could you all pop an effexor before your bitter bizzaro comments come streaming out? And, just ride your damn bike.
    Thanxxx

  • A Walker

    For sure this is all about symbolism. So what’s the message when pedestrians get squeezed for a glitzy bike parking shed? This makes people like cyclists more? Put the bike parking in the street or on built out sidewalks like they do all over Europe.

  • NotAnIPhoneOwnerEither

    “Geez, only eight out of 23 comments are positive.”

    Because it’s a crappy idea. It adds little or no value to anyone’s biking experience and takes up a ton of room on the sidewalk. Credit Streetsblog readers for their common sense.

    “Everyone knows those bus shelters have their drawbacks (their being uniformly ugly is at the top of my list), but having several actual structures for parking”

    In what meaningful sense is this a “structure
    for parking a bike”? At best it’s a canopy that might keep a bike that is already dry from getting wet if a perfectly vertical rain starts after the bike is parked and before it is retrieved.

    ” will help all New Yorkers see that bicycling is an attractive and legitimate way to get around. Thank you, Ethan, for making this point.”

    What an incredibly dumb point. It will cause the vast majority of NY’ers to exclaim “who put this goddam thing in the middle of the sidewalk?!”

    “A little shed is a nice amenity for bicyclists and sure beats locking up to parking meters or signposts.”

    Oh please. It makes no friggin difference what you like your bike to, as long as it (and its pieces) are still there when you get back.

    “Absent a technological solution like Sabrina’s, I think that d’s choice not to commute by bike is a reasonable response to fears of theft, just as some people don’t want to park their cars overnight in sketchy neighborhoods. But I don’t think that those fears should influence the city against making more innovations like this one.”

    You don’t think that allocation of resources toward a legitimate problem should get in the way of the City throwing money at a non-problem? This is not an innovation. It’s boondogle.

  • Hilary

    Well, is it really a boondoggle or is it a cash cow? Did the bus shelter/advertising company offer to throw these in for little or nothing? What’s the revenue on the ads, and who gets it?

  • Jonathan

    (It makes no friggin difference what you like your bike to, as long as it (and its pieces) are still there when you get back.)
    Au contraire! This official-looking shelter (and to a lesser extent, common-and-garden sidewalk racks, too) dedicates part of the streetscape to bike parking. That is a clear message that says it’s OK to park your bike on the street.

    Locking your bike to the subway kiosk, or to someone else’s private property, on the other hand, is obnoxious and self centered, and tells your fellow citizens that you don’t give a hoot about them.

    Yes, I would prefer that parking be taken away from cars for bikes, but I’m not going to castigate an alternate solution either. There aren’t that many pedestrians at Jackson Ave & 50th Avenue in Queens (to mention one spot), so it seems like a good place to try out these shelters.

  • A Walker

    So try the shelters only on empty sidewalks. Cemusa advert $ is made where people are walking. Bet ya a whole pile get stuck on crowded Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn sidewalks.

  • Jonathan: Agree with you about the current number of pedestrians at Jackson and 50th (Ave., as you say, not Street per “New York”), but that overlooks the number of residential buildings going up nearby; three, in fact, within 200 feet, with mammoth Queens West close as well. The Vernon-Jackson #7 stop is the last one in Queens before Manhattan, a desirable destination, but the fact is there’s no place in Hunter’s Point where you’re more than a few blocks from a subway station, so how many would “commute” on two wheels anyway? And, let’s face it, folks, if the city takes away metered parking spaces for cars, do you really not see the day they start charging for primo bike parking?

  • Hilary

    I would gladly pay to park my bike in a safe place on the street, instead of storing it my apartment, or wrestling with the storage room. Do we know if permanent parking will be allowed in these new bike garages? If it is, then people really have a right to yell about selling off the sidewalks.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    The Vernon-Jackson #7 stop is the last one in Queens before Manhattan, a desirable destination, but the fact is there’s no place in Hunter’s Point where you’re more than a few blocks from a subway station, so how many would “commute” on two wheels anyway?

    I have to disagree with you here, Rex. Citylights may only be two blocks from the subway, but they’re long blocks, and as you go up or down the waterfront you get further from the #7 but not much closer to the E/V trains at 23rd/Ely. If I lived in the East Coast I’d definitely want it to be easy to bike to the subway.

    Also, the new Hunter’s Point South development will have 5000 apartments, and will not be a very convenient walk from any stop. This particular plan is not very well-thought-out at all in terms of transportation, and it’s quite unlikely that four bike racks will be enough for the residents of 5000 apartments, but there will be demand for these racks.

  • Jonathan

    Rexlic and Angus: the Vernon-Jackson station has two entrances (duh, one on Vernon, one on Jackson). Presumably the Jackson Ave bike parking would be most useful to folks who live in Greenpoint and begin their commute by cycling over the Pulaski bridge to the 7 train. The riverside developments (Citylights, etc.) are closer to Vernon Blvd.

    Do they still have the 12-hour meters on Vernon between the railroad tracks and Jackson Ave? That’s where I’d like to see a cicloparqueadero.

  • Don’t want to hijack the thread with LIC trivia, but…My point about proximity in Hunter’s Point is, of course, relative, and dependent on which subway line you’d prefer. But I can’t think anyone is more than 5-10 minutes walk to some subway access–ask Upper East Side folks how good that sounds.

    As for Greenpointers cycling to the #7 stop: what little attention and energy I can spend on these matters will be focused on the MTA’s near-criminal abuse of “G” train riders and neighborhoods. And that’s really the story here, anyway, isn’t it? We need every type of viable, sustainable transportation options we can get, but it’s really the 800-pound gorilla–the MTA, NYC Transit and their mismanagment of this public resource–which has to take priority in our action. That, and the Bloomberg/Doctoroff doctrine of putting people where there ain’t no trains.

  • Or, to finish my own thought, the Bloomberg/Doctoroff doctrine of putting people where the trains cannot possibly bear the additional crush of passengers. Thinking about buying in LIC? Do a test run at 9:00 A.M. on the #7 at Vernon/Jackson, and let me know what you think after that sardinefest. And good luck, too, future Atlantic Yard-ians…

  • Andy B from Jersey

    I must claim ignorance when dealing with bike theft in NYC (Hey! I’m in Jersey. No secrete there.)

    However, Jonathan’s comment back at #24 brings up an idea. Cars get stolen because it is an object that is by nature mobile. Same with bikes. Well if you got real problems with your bike getting stolen then maybe locking it up and taking a wheel with you could help. I know when my car was new I would take the main ignition wire with me when I parked in rough areas. Took 30 seconds to remove and now the car ain’t going nowhere under its own power. Wouldn’t stop a flat-bed just as removing the wheel wouldn’t stop a thief with a van but it’s a definite major deterrent.

    Also, I recently got a Brompton folding bike for travel and for a possible commute to NYC. I never lock it up and simply take it with me into every place that I go; work, offices, music clubs, even fancy restaurants. I’ve never had an issue. Even those that were skeptical at first about letting me bring it in are easily won over when they see it fold up. (Side note: I’ve never had a bike before that caused so many total strangers to just come up to me and start conversation; even good looking women!)

    As for the bike parking kiosk, I gotta’ admit that you gotta’ walk before you can run and NYC is trying to do some Olympic level sprinting with this design. I was just in Philly earlier today and there are simple, solid, but affordable (yet damn effective) inverted “U” racks everywhere. For the most part they a placed parallel to the curb where the meters go. Such a layout minimizes ped conflicts and utilizes a section of the sidewalk not regularly utilized by pedestrians. Nothing new to most of you. What was really interesting today however was that I noticed a series of 3 or more of these racks in front of a Center City church for their members (Cool!).

    New York should start with a program like this first, then move on to the the fancy stuff.

  • cvarrick

    “And, let’s face it, folks, if the city takes away metered parking spaces for cars, do you really not see the day they start charging for primo bike parking?”

    Good point.

    As much as i’d love to see NYC become a bicycling utopia, some times i wonder if i should be careful what i wish for.

    If substantial numbers ever abandon their cars bikers will quickly become a replacement state/municipal revenue stream.

    It will start with metered parking and stepped up enforcement/ticketing of traffic violations. In the end bicyclists will have the same mandatory registration, licensing and insurance requirments as automobiles.

  • Smart Guy

    This is taxpayers money going directly into the pockets of the company creating these things (Cemusa).

    I wonder if the people in charge of contracting this had a kickback deal: We’ll get you to create these dumbass structures, if you give us half of your profit. Also, give me half the profit of us charging you to take them down, after everyone realizes how stupid of an idea this is. We make money, and everyone forgets it ever happened.

    This is the most retarded idea I’ve ever heard, and cannot believe it was even considered over one of a million alternative ways to improving biking and raise more awareness of biking in NYC.

    “Hey, let’s but big, expensive structures in the middle of sidewalks. They should hold seven.. no, EIGHT bikes, so that people can park their bike before it starts to rain, and pick up their bike after it’s done raining! I mean, what MORE could bikers want than that?? Now, the next time bikers ask for something, we can say “geeez, we already gave you super expensive and convenient buildings to block you from rain! not even cars get free parking like that! what more do you want?!?!””

    “Ok, sounds good. Make sure I get a kickback and get re-elected”

    “Deal.”

  • No extra money was paid for these bike shelters. They were part of the original CEMUSA bus shelter contract. As it was explained to me, DOT saw that it had some extra shelters available for non-bus stop use, and they decided to give this a try.

    I think it’s great to see DOT experimenting, innovating and showing creativity and flexibility even if this may not be the ideal design for covered bike parking.

  • Jonathan

    Smart Guy, if you look at the press release about the street-furniture contract, money goes from the vendor to the city fisc, not the other way around as you seem to think.

  • I think Smart Guy misses the mark with the suggestion of corruption. We know what DoT corruption looks like . . . can you say Wedtech? Stanley Friedman?

    This is not corruption we are seeing here, more likely it is idealism–the belief that by promoting cycling the city can meaningfully address serious transportation and even public health challenges. Does this particular piece of infrastructure is the best way to do that? Smart Guy raises some fair points. I would put the over-breadth of the 7-block 9th Ave. cycle track (not the cycle track concept itself) and the surplus of bike racks installed along it in the same category of high-visibility, questionable-practicality infrastructure.

    In contrast, the DoT’s follow-through in laying on-street lanes has been a tremendous boon. I know there are always people parking in them, but for whatever reason, bicyclists are drawn to them. I know I am, even when I’m in a hurry and plan to ride in the middle of the traffic lane adjacent to the bike lane to avoid the dooring hazard. Because bicyclists congregate in the bike lanes, there is greater visibility and “safety in numbers.” This effect is very clear over the last few months on the new portions of the Centre and Lafayette lanes, and on the broadened 5th Ave. lane.

  • Gary

    This cost the City NOTHING! That is the beauty of the Cemusa bus shelter contract. In fact the City is making money on it. Cemusa is responsible for installing and upkeep of the shelters and has to pay the city for the privilege of selling advertising. And we get more bike parking and a public endorsement of bicycle use as legitimate.

    Get a good lock and get out and ride.

  • Gary’s right, this along with the new bus shelters, newsstands, public toilets and now these new bus…ruhh bike shelters are under Cemusa contract. They clean them, maintanence, all that. However, I’m gonna have to go with Vroomfondel in that there are some design flaws. I think the biggest is the lack of bike racks but that can easily be rectified, I think, if the DOT’s wave-design bike racks are installed perpendicular to the glass. Second biggest thing is yeah, the thing is taking up sidewalk space. they should put those bike shelters at the end of a parking lane on a street, take up one parking space so it will create a crosswalk extensions. Bollards will be need but capacity and location. Otherwise, it’s better than nothing. We aint paying for it. Yet?

  • Ian D

    Shea and I had to opportunity to use the rack last weekend when we rode to the Greenmarket: SEE!

    It was very well-designed, and it did in fact keep the vendors that are all over this block from taking up the bike parking. We even helped someone who was trying to read that bike map to see how he could ride over the GW Bridge…

  • Ian D

    Hmm…the link in the previous post seems to not work. Here’s what I was trying to point you to: http://www.mindspring.com/~darkpilot/pix/unionsq-rack.jpg

  • Ivon G.

    That is nice; however THEFT is the issue that most concerns me. I pay for parking my bike right now just so that I don’t have to deal with coming to a rack and my bike not being there. We need more facilities with more affordable ways to storing bikes in the city. Kudos to the city for trying something. They should work with Bike communities to know our needs a little better.

  • Stella Richard

    Thankful to you to share such a great post. Locking Bike Shelters

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