Crank Returns

November 10th, 2009 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

My late mother does manifest through me. As in the tiny woman cowing the gigantic manager, I would shamelessly embarrass my children in pursuit of efficiency and clear thinking. Fortunately for them, none of my boys was at the Y yesterday to hear me.

non-sensical bike rack My mom may be dead, but the world is not missing a crank. I have replaced her.

At issue is the week-long parking-lot repaving that is into its third month. In fairness, we had some rain and other bad weather, but this is being done on contractor time.

The last piece was re-installing the bicycle rack. This is something I know a bit about, having spec’ed a rack for a church, having attended multiple Moving Together and other transportation conferences, having interviewed the bike coordinators of Cambridge and Boston, and being a very regular cyclist.

I had spoken with the Y’s staff, including the executive director. I said it would be a false economy not to replace the inadequate 1960s rack with a much more sensible Ribbon Rack. It holds more bikes and more types of bikes in less space.  I pointed them to one in the neighborhood at the public library. I noted that the city has an active program to place racks for free in likely places. I added that there were reimbursement programs that would require only paying for installation. Everyone responded with aggressive head nods and promises to follow up.

Horse feathers!

When the rack reappeared, not only was it the same lame old one whose upright members don’t accommodate any mountain bike or even modern road bikes, the solid-geometry deficient and cycling ignorant pavers had actually set it as in the above image (click for larger view). As the new placement is not even a wheel diameter away from the brick wall, the only way to lock a bike to it is is sideways, limiting it to three at best and more likely two bikes. Duh.

In other words, if the aim is to service the Y members or encourage visitors to leave cars at home, this fails. Cyclists I know and I would not ride a bike there if we knew that the racks would not be easy to use or in this case even possible to use.

Channeling my mother Wanda, I asked the staff to call the executive director. I led her to the rack and explained why it utterly failed at its aim. I discussed the options for free or reduced cost racks and insulted the intellect of the paving minions.

She alleged she would be interested in links to the rack programs.  Arriving home, I sent her links to:

  • Boston’s bike-rack request form
  • Boston’s Bike Coordinator Nicole Freedman
  • The MAPC rack-reimbursement program
  • Ribbon Rack

She replied quickly by return email that she was not aware of these and was delighted to have the information. Crank. Crank. Crank.

I shall watch eager to see whether and if so how long it will take to put a functional rack in the parking lot or in one of the two locations (Bellevue or Centre) I suggested for the free city ones that have to go in pubic spaces.

Like Wanda, I do not raise my voice. However, also like her, I am reasoned and relentless. It all seems to intensify with age.

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