Billyburg bike bandits strike again

On Sunday, the New York Times City section ran a story called "The Bicycle Thief: It’s Not Who You Think." It went like this: On Wednesday, 28-year-old graphic designer Miao Wang rode her bicycle 12 blocks from her apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to the Bedford Avenue L subway station. She locked up, boarded her train and went to work. That evening, she emerged from subway to find that her black Diamondback bicycle was gone.

Ms. Wang’s bicycle was one of nine confiscated in the latest police sweep of bikes locked to railings, street signs and parking meters around the subway station. With the ten bike racks on North Seventh Street between Bedford and Driggs Avenues typically full, it has become normal to see scores of bikes chained in thick clumps to other street fixtures on the block.

The challenge, DOT bike program director Andrew Vesselinovitch told the Times, is "balancing the need for bicycle parking on crowded sidewalks that thousands of people walk on each day." Underlying Vesselinovitch’s statement and the city’s land use and bike parking policies is the assumption that the only possible place to park bicycles is on the city’s sidewalks. The City of Montreal, Quebec does not work under this assumption and this is what bicycle parking looks like there:

As you can see, at this popular cyclist destination, the City of Montreal has dedicated a small slice of street space to bike parking. As a result, in a spot that would otherwise accomodate only two or three cars, fifty people can store their vehicles, their bikes. Instead of forcing the "balance" to be found between cyclists and pedestrians, both of whom are already fighting over scraps of already narrow sidewalk, Montreal finds the balance between cars and bikes.

Free curbside parking spaces are considered virtually sacred in New York City. Perhaps this is why Vesselinovitch said the balance had to be struck between pedestrians and cyclists. It might just be hard to imagine that it could be done any other way. Truly, there are lots of creative ways to do bike parking in a crowded city. Take a look at Chicago’s new Millennium Park Bike Station:

Considered a crown jewel of Chicago’s 21st century transportation infrastructure, the Bike Station is filled to capacity by daily downtown commuters and tourists most days of the year. In addition to providing secure bike parking it offers lockers, showers and bike repairs.

The Calatrava-designed train station in Lower Manhattan is a no-brainer spot for a park’n’ride bike facility like this. So is the new development at the Atlantic Railyards in Brooklyn. Here is an example of outdoor bike parking I found during a trip to Brussels last year, across the street from the European Union Parliament building. It doesn’t fit a lot of bikes but it shows a certain respect and genuine encouragement to provide cyclists with some roof cover in case of rain. You just don’t see this sort of support for cycling in New York City’s built environment:

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Now the MTA is Stealing Bikes in Williamsburg

|
Back in July, New York City’s Department of Transportation built sidewalk extensions and bike racks on a few automobile parking spaces-worth of street space near the Bedford Avenue subway stop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It was the first time ever that on-street car parking had been replaced by bike parking in New York City. The Bedford […]

MTA: Not Stealing Bikes. Just Following the Rules.

|
The MTA has been taking a lot of flack following yesterday’s dust-up over MTA workers seizing bicycles locked to the Bedford Avenue subway station stairwell railing in Williamsburg. Perhaps the wrong transportation agency is taking the hit on this one. A camera phone-toting tipster sends along the above photo. It shows that, not only does […]

Small Step for Pedestrians & Cyclists; Giant Leap for NYC

|
The Department of Transportation’s recently announced streetscape renovation at the Bedford Avenue L subway station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn marks the first time ever in New York City that car parking spaces have been removed to make way for bicycle parking. Since breaking the news of this development on Monday, Streetsblog has learned more about the project. DOT’s plan […]

An NYC First: On-Street Parking Spaces Replaced by Bike Racks

|
The new bike racks have been installed at the Bedford Avenue L subway station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. As the Dept. of Transportation announces in today’s press release, "The facility marks the first time car parking spaces have been removed to accommodate bicycle parking in New York City." DOT extended a 76-foot section of the sidewalk […]