Finally, Parking Meters Where Bikes Belong

Sacramento sends cyclists a clear sign that it’s okay to hitch your bike to a parking meter.

The City of Sacramento is converting defunct parking meters into officially sanctioned bike racks, the Sacramento Bee reported last month. After replacing its traditional meters with solar-powered, Muni-style pay stations, the city came up with this nifty purpose for otherwise useless infrastructure.

One hundred meters have been converted so far. If successful, the city will give more old meters the bike rack treatment.

This is a great idea, but we have to ask: Why not outfit active meters with bike racks too? Is it that inconvenient for drivers to reach over a bike while they feed the meter?

Photo: Sacramento Bee

  • Dave H.

    In New Haven, I’m told, all parking meters will soon have a sticker on them saying “Bikes park for free.” They were inspired by Chicago’s similar stickers.

  • fred

    Maybe bicyclists should have to feed the meter too.

  • Damian

    Cool idea, but these look a little flimsy for New York. I think our thieves would have those bolts loosened in about 20 seconds.

    Also, to Fred: great idea. Why stop there, though? I see women parking their baby carriages outside stores all the time, FOR FREE, while some poor guy in a 3-ton SUV has to pay for the parking. Old ladies and their shopping carts also get off scot-free. Time to close those loopholes!

  • da

    Right on, Fred!

    And a meter by every park bench, too!

  • Larry Littlefield

    (Maybe bicyclists should have to feed the meter too.)

    As for meters, obviously a bicycle doesn’t take up a fraction of the space of a car. But I wonder how many bike racks could be installed if there was a charge of 25 cents for any stay in excess of two hours? I’d pay.

    How about extending the sidewalk to shift from shifting from “free” auto parking to “paid” metered bicycle parking all over Manhattan, and on local commercial streets elsewhere, on that basis? The meters could double as bike hitches?

    I wonder what bicycle infrastructure we could afford if all the sales tax revenue from bicycle shops, and bicycle sales elsewhere, was dedicated to it.

    In the early days of the auto, some infrastructure was financed by dedicated revenues, but most was financed by non-drivers. In other words, that dedicated revenue was multiplied many times.

    Later the auto came to mostly pay for at least a modest share of its direct costs via dedicated taxes and fees, but only after decades of subsidies that cleared the way for broader auto use.

    What if those bicycle revenues were similarly leveraged 10 to 1? Remember, all you have to do is install a real barrier to separate a bike lane.

    Fred, I’m not sure if you were being sarcastic, but I like it. We could trade car parking spaces for bike parking spaces on that basis.

  • Larry Littlefield

    You know the more I think about this, the more I like it. It’s perfect really, especially right now.

    Drivers won’t pay. But bicyclists will — IF the space is taken away from drivers.

    If the first two hours are free, bicycle messengers, delivery people and shoppers are unaffected.

    I’ll gladly pay a quarter a day — that’s just $5.00 a month if I managed to ride everyday, and $4.00 is more like it. Compare that with the cost of parking a bike in a garage, in the few places listed by DOT and TA.

    And, the case could be make that 25 cents per day is proportional to the congestion created by cyclists, relative to private motor vehicles. And we can demand a full lane of traffic removed from the Brooklyn Bridge and given over to cyclists, to cut the conflict with peds.

    Any TA folks here? What do you think.

  • Anonymous

    For years, parking meters were the site of choice for chaining or locking one’s bicycle. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the criteria for the shape and width of Kryptonite and Citadel u-locks was the ability to fit around parking meters while securing the frame-and-back wheel, and dismounted front wheel. (This was back when quick-release wheels really WERE quick-release.)


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