Sleek Bike Parking Facilities Appear in Queens and Brooklyn

2008 quickly bring good news for commuters in Downtown Brooklyn and Long Island City, Queens. Eric Chang of Transportation Alternatives’ Queens Committee snapped these photos of the new covered bike shelter that was just installed at the Vernon Blvd /Jackson Avenue station on the 7 line in Long Island City.  The third photo is from Fort Greene where Gil Ronen (pictured) along with T.A. and Green Fort Greene & Clinton Hill were instrumental in bringing over 70 new CityRacks to the historic Brooklyn neighborhood.

  • I just noticed one on the north side of Union Square in Manhattan yesterday too (not sure if you’d already covered that or not).

  • Max

    They look way too much like bus shelters. Bikes can’t get wet?

  • King C.

    It’s a nice idea, but with this design these shelters are pointless: they do very, very little to protect bikes from the elements and nothing to prevent bike theft.

    The money would be better spent on a few more racks near the subway entrances, or on a more pragmatic design, or on actual security for parked bikes.

    Seems like Cemusa and the city are putting their BS Street Furniture “aesthetics” ahead of the practicality of riding and parking a bike in the city.

  • mork

    re: “aesthetics”

    I think you misspelled “advertising opportunity”.

    (Though, for now at least, the shelter pictured has the “Watch” PSA on the side.)

  • I’m glad to see any cycling improvements in Queens, it shows that at least the DoT is starting to pay some attention to the largest boro. Now if we can just get a class 1 along Vernon Blvd to kick start the East River Greenway.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    At least they used inverted “U” racks for users to properly secure their bicycles instead of those imperfect “wave” racks in the background.

  • Eric

    This makes it easier for somebody to cut your lock while it’s raining… how convenient!

  • Eric

    It is a nice idea, but when does rain fall straight down in New York City? The shelter aspect is silly, and as others have said, better to spend the money on more racks or heightened security. I bet for what they paid for the shelter, they could hook up a security camera instead. Which could double as a congestion-pricing license-plate camera. 😉

  • Jesse

    I’d like them more if they were replacing street parking.

  • ddartley

    Good points by those questioning the need for a shelter; it sure does seem silly from a lot of angles, but to defend the practice, for the heck of it: we can hope that the visible choice to add aesthetic elements to a bike parking station might lend an air of respectability. Even that sounds silly, but there are plenty of examples of that sort of thing sometimes really does have repercussions where there might seem to be none or few.

  • Jonathan

    What a set of pessimistic, unhappy posts above. You’d think from the ruckus that DOT had just torn out existing bike racks.

    They look like bus shelters because they are basically bus shelters. If you haven’t noticed, NYC has a 20-year contract with an advertising company that allows them to put up “urban furniture elements,” which according to the press release, “include bus shelters, clocks, public information panels, newsstands, news racks, bicycle racks, automatic public toilets, trash containers, and electronic panels.” So it’s not costing the city anything.

    It sounds to me like someone at DOT read through the contract or talked with the vendor and figured out that they could include bike racks in the vendor’s build-out. The vendor gets another “urban furniture element” to advertise upon and the city gets a privately maintained bike shelter, plus its regular payment for the street furniture.

    I agree that the design is not particularly inspiring, but ever since they tore out the street-level facade on the building on the SW corner of 49th Ave & Jackson Ave, that block has been an architectural wasteland.

    So bravo to the unidentified municicrat who figured out how to get the bus-shelter vendor to build bike racks as well. Now when can we get one of these in our burg?

  • ddartley

    Spurred on by Jonathan’s good attitude, I’ll expand on my previous comment:

    How good is it to see, in nice, large signage, the words “bicycle parking” on a solid streetspace fixture?

    I think that sort of thing can have a real, if gradual, effect on public attitudes.

    I think it’s significant even if the actual shelter from the elements is not.

  • Timz

    It is simply fantastic that bike racks are being installed in the city. And yes, I believe the very prominent bike parking sign will actually influence public acceptance of bikes as a legitimate form of transportation. This is nothing but a good thing.

    Maybe you don’t like the whole Cemusa advertising thing, but please realize that they are guaranteeing properly maintained bike racks for 20 years… don’t think the good old DOT would every make that promise.

    Oh and when can we all get together and decide on the most aesthetically pleasing street furniture? I would love to be at that historic occassion when 8 million people agree on something.

  • Josh

    Am I the only one who *likes* the look of the stuff Cemusa is building? If properly maintained, I think they look modern and clean. Certainly better than the ugly old newsstands and bus shelters we used to have.

    (Yes, I do recognize that they’re not going to do a lot against driving rain, I’m just referring to aesthetics.)

  • vnm

    C’mon folks! These new racks demarcate a spot in the streetscape especially for bikes, helping to legitimize cycling as an accepted mode of transportation. In this regard, blending in with the rest of the street furniture (bus shelters) further strenghtens the idea that cyclists matter. They also seem to be intelligently placed: Bike to the subway and save a car trip.

  • vnm

    Also, so what if there’s advertising on the side? Who cares? Companies generally don’t do stuff for free. If cycling can benefit for once from the overall capitalist economy in which we all live, all the better.

  • MrManhattan

    I noticed the one along Union Square North, but since it was during the week between final exams and Christmas, I wrote it off as a mirage or a dream.

    I agree that the open “bus shelter” design won’t stop the weather, but the alternative is to enclose it on three sides, then just guess what would start to accumulate in the back corners!

    One easy improvement would be to move it out into a parking spot, so it doesn’t take up pedestrian space.

    Thanx DOT, and Happy New Year!

  • Jonathan

    ddartley, right on!

    How good is it to see, in nice, large signage, the words “bicycle parking” on a solid streetspace fixture?

  • Timz

    I’m so glad these comments have turned positive. Hooray for Bike Parking! Hooray for “Bicycle Parking” signs! Hooray for well maintained street furniture!

    And yes Josh… I like the look of the Cemusa stuff too.

  • Hilary

    Visual advertising is an arms race. At some point each addition just lowers the value of the rest. And it all dilutes the experience of the built and natural environment – in some cases, a welcome result. New York has many areas that are improved by the “vitality” of advertising, but many that are not.

    The question is when is enough enough, and where do we want to invite it into our environment? How much advertising do we want to drape our buildings, bridges, subway entrances, scaffolding, sidewalks? Do we want commercial elements in all neighborhoods, or should there be some respite from them, say in our residential enclaves, grand streets, parks? I wonder how the businesses whose storefronts are obscured by the advertising are affected.

  • eddy

    why hasn’t anyone noticed that the racks are too close together to park bikes properly? bikes are meant to be parked perpendicular to the rack on either side. the way these are set up, you can only lock one bike per rack, otherwise you risk tangling pedals in spokes, etc. it’s pretty evident that they only care about the advertising. given the choice, i’ll stick to parking meters.

  • bikeman

    wah wah wah – can’t do enough then do too much – just be glad the city is paying attention to bikes period – whether or not they need to be protected from rain or advertising revenue is generated from structures

  • cool

    Re: eddy’s comment, bikes are not parked perpendicular to an inverted-u rack. two bikes, are locked alongside it (one on each side, hence you can have two bikes per inverted-u lock). i can determine the spacing between racks from the photos, but i think it should be enough.

  • ben

    agreed that this is not an effective use of space – if we used the whole footprint of the glass shelter for rack space, we could fit two to three times as many bikes.

    also, cemusa would probably throw one of these shelters over every parking meter if they could (wouldn’t want to get wet while feeding the meter, right?).

  • Hilary

    Right. Why not just enclose the entire sidewalk with ads on the roof and hanging cloth panels that we walk through? They would be less of an obstruction than a fixed piece of glass, and kind of pedestrian traffic-calming, don’t you think?

  • Zizou

    I can’t believe that the shelters have Trans Alt and DOT bike safety advertising (I hate all forms of advertising!), and that they aren’t completely enclosed, with a 24 hour security guard and fingerprint identification and a self-composting bathroom and they don’t provide free locks and parking for my tandem recumbent and a map to the nearest food coop!

    Seriously unbelievable. Some of these comments are so miserable and self-defeating that they make me remember one of the reasons why I got out of bike advocacy as a profession.

    As someone who has used the Vernon Jackson subway stop for bike-park + ride every day for the past 8 years, this is a huge improvement. 3-4 years ago there were NO racks of any kind at this station. It took months of requests to get a single rack. Now there’s covered bike parking that’s straight out of Berlin that went up in a week, and the first thing you do is complain?

    Obviously, NYC still has a long way to go, but it’s obvious that this new DOT is trying, and to me, the change of pace is staggering. This DOT has done in six months more than the previous DOTs did in 10 years. Give them a chance. NYC is not going to turn into Copenhagen overnight, no matter how much you scream at your computer screen.

    Rather than lobbing marginal criticisms and ranting to the choir on a blog, why don’t you go do something constructive and civic-minded…say join your local community board so these improvements can get through faster – and with your input? Because it’s easier and more smugly satisfying for you to sit back and complain retroactively on the internet. I know. Good luck with that.

  • whining and in-fighting does nothing to advance our cause. it makes us look like a bunch of ungrateful children.

    look at the 3rd picture in the series. behind the bike shelter, look at the bikes askew in old school bike parking. notice the bike on the left, with rear tire missing. part of the reason why our bikes are cannibalized by theives/saboteurs is because, no-one notices them doing it. with the new shelters, there is enough light to illuminate our bikes and potentially keep these turds at bay.

    not the greatest solution, but something. and certainly better than what we have now.

    thank you new york.

  • Eric

    Regarding the upside down u rack: you can’t always park 2 bikes along side them, it’s problematic at best, and often impossible depending on the bike(s). If everyone just put their bike at a slight angle, only locking to one side of the U, then there would always be room for 2 and it wouldn’t take nearly as much space as going perpendicular.

  • Jonathan

    Over the weekend another benefit of these structures came to me: less encroachment on bicycle parking by other uses. I was outside the Whitney Museum on Sunday and the hot-dog cart was parked right up on top of the inverted-U rack; if there had been one of these structures in place he would have had to move. Similarly, during the summertime the unprotected U-racks under the West Side viaduct near 72nd Street are always blocked by the cafe that sets up there.

    Also, since it’s clearly labeled “bicycle parking,” I presume that you could get a sympathetic TEA to write tickets to motorcycles parked there.

  • need some start of secure bike parking near each transportation hub, my bike has too much stuff on it to be parking at a non guarded rack.
    i guess i am one of those people that would prefer to drop some change for a clean bathroom or secure bicycle parking than a tip jar at some lousy food take out place. 3 times last week i didn’t bike in since i wanted to be in the union square area and will not lock up for any length of time, unless i can watch it and get to it. a video feed would be a good first step in security, with technology you could watch your bike via your cell phone or have B&N, whole food put in monitors of bikes parking area.

  • I don’t think the shelter’s are entirely useless. In the summer, at least your bike seat won’t be hot. I know I hate that, that things heats up in literally two seconds.

  • Anarcissie

    That thing takes up a lot of space for just four bicycles. If bicycling becomes more popular, as so many of you desire, then someone is going to have to think of something a lot more efficient. Last time I went past the Vernon-Jackson subway station I noticed a dozen or so bicycles chained up in the vicinity — commuters who cycle to the subway and take the train the rest of the way. Most of them will still be chained to parking meters and street signs. I can easily imagine a scenario in which the latter are taken away by the police because they aren’t parked in an authorized bicycle parking area. I will then fondly remember the day when my bicycle was so totally subversive it was invisible.

    But progress progresses, so you all bicycle shelter enthusiasts should think about dealing with the situations that will arise when you get what you want.

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