Bad Bike Racks

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto proposes installing bike racks with advertisements on city parking meters. Since I’m not a city resident, I can’t complain to my Councilman, so I’ll rant here instead.

This arrangement seems to make a lot of sense, from the city’s perspective. We get more bike racks, which was an issue already on the agenda. And, the city doesn’t have to pay for anything. Everyone wins!

However, from a cyclist’s perspective, this makes no sense at all. Cyclists can already lock their bicycles to parking meters, so they do not stand to gain anything through the installation of these racks. In fact, the racks are bolted onto the parking meter poles, and are smaller than a bicycle, which creates a new point of failure that didn’t previously exist.

The racks do provide a small advantage to cyclists who use a cable lock. A cable lock can be slipped over the top of a parking meter, but it can be locked safely to the loop on the auxiliary rack. However, anyone with a cable lock can already attach their bicycle to something larger such as a telephone pole.

These racks provide little benefit to the cyclist, while plastering our urban environment with even more advertisements. I would prefer new bicycle racks in locations where bicycle parking is not already available, instead of this waste of energy and resources for the sole purpose of increasing commercial billboard space.