Bike racks, Part 1: Outrageous!

This an outrage! I’m shocked, just shocked. The city of Eugene decided to make a free parking zone downtown, which means they plan to lop the heads off of a couple hundred parking meters — which means they’re worthless for locking your bike to.

WeBikeEugene seems to have broken the news on this and gone to the trouble of calculating the actual number of potential bike-locking locations lost:

It would be a grave mistake to remove 165 bike parking spots from an already inadequate downtown bike parking scene … if cyclists have nowhere to park their bikes, they won’t be able to ride.

Then a commenter identifying himself as “joe” adds to this post a self-described downtown “rant:”

Any time there is a reason to be downtown even with the current poles there is no parking (like Science Pub at Cosmic Pizza). … We need parking at Broadway and Willamette, the park blocks for Saturday market, and around the club district.

So, with this outrage afoot, we at Eugene Bicyclist decided to take a ride downtown and see what the heck is going on. First stop, Willamette Street, between Seventh and Eighth avenues.

Ah-ha! Right there outside of Perugino, look at that! And we must ask, what would this cyclist have done without the parking meter? Would he have forgone the cappuccino? (We’ll leave aside for the moment that the owner has locked the Bianchi to the parking meter with a stretchy cable lock, and a determined thief could probably lift it over the top of the meter just as if the meter didn’t have its head still on at all.)

Well. Let’s move 10 or 15 yards down the sidewalk and take a look. Here we go. Right in front of the sushi place:

Doggone it. Where on God’s green earth can I park this bike?! Look, there’s even cyclist right there in the picture. Scratching his head over where to park his bike, no doubt.

I guess we’ll have to keep looking, won’t we? Let’s keeping going south on Willamette, another 20 yards across Eighth Avenue, OK?

This is preposterous! Even if there were some bike racks around here, they’d probably all be full. And this is just a block from Broadway and Willamette and a block from the Park Blocks, where they have Saturday Market for goodness sake. (We should point out that the Park Blocks are actually outside of the free parking zone, so presumably the parking meters in that area are safe for the time being.)

If only I could find someplace to put this bicycle. Then I could patronize all of these businesses — and I wouldn’t be tempted to drive my car downtown.

OK, I guess we should keep looking. Let’s head over to Olive Street and Broadway, near Luckey’s (I think we’re in the “club district” now, Luckey’s being a “Cigar Club” and all.)

I can’t believe this! Is there no one downtown who cares about the interests of cyclists?! What about over on the other side of the street, by DIVA?

This is really getting annoying. If a guy could just find a place to park his bike, everything would be so much better. Let’s go over to the Strand Building where Cosmic Pizza is …

So just suppose — just suppose — city bureaucrats come along and, Hercules-like, cleave the noggins from this two-headed Hydra. Suppose that happens. What is our downtrodden cyclist to do then?

OK, you get the point: Let’s not overreact, here. And it’s not going to kill anybody to lock their bike up and then walk a block to wherever they need to go. Even if they’re wearing roadie shoes.

That said: Sure, there are some parts of downtown where it would be nice to have a little more in the way of places to lock a bike. I second what Mike wrote over at WeBikeEugene about not getting militant about it. I mean, the last thing we need is a bunch of cyclists bitching and moaning about how we’re victimized and marginalized. Nobody wants to hear that, right?

So, I wonder. What if the “cycling community” tried to launch something really fun and cool. …

Stay tuned. I’ll follow up on this soon. Maybe tomorrow.

Wait, this is a cliffhanger? Wow. …

UPDATE: Follow-up now posted.

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8 thoughts on “Bike racks, Part 1: Outrageous!

  1. “Any time there is a reason to be downtown….”
    I think that was the key aspect of what Joe was going on about, and I’ve found it to be true as well. Despite the several locations you’ve photographed above, if some sort of large event is going on in the area, they’re almost always full. I’ve circumvented the issue by locking my bike to a friend’s bike that was already miraculously shoved in between two other bikes sharing a space, but it definitely wasn’t pretty. I just don’t ride downtown anymore. I save more time walking there and back than riding and looking for a place to lock my bike. Again, this is only when a larger event is going on.

    1. I suppose that’s true, Marc. I was actually thinking about this last night. We went out last night, and I noticed that the two racks at the entrance to 5th Street Market (on the north side) were almost full. And there are a fair number of spots there. Though I have to say, there was plenty of space at that odd rack down by the old Nike Store a half a block away.
      But you’re right. Bike parking will fill up when things are busy. Especially in summer. I don’t doubt this is true when Cozmic Pizza has something going on that draws a lot of people. But I just feel that there’s always someplace to lock a bike — as you found. Even at Saturday Market. Even if it’s not quite “authorized.” And even if it takes you a block out of your way. It’s not like parking a car. And if you were a motorist and found a spot a block from Cozmic Pizza on a night they were having a big show or a block from Saturday Market, you’d be psyched. But, of course, maybe that’s a “so what” comparison.
      Thanks for reading and thanks for your comment.

  2. Was this on a weekend or weekday? I feel that weekends are more of an issue. During Saturday Market all the racks and meters are full in the area. Cozmic Pizza tends to get full by 9pm on events, including racks and meters. The McDonald Theater gets full as well and meters must be used. This was the rack at the McDonald theater tonight (dark: http://www.flickr.com/photos/webikeeugene/4936610183/) – granted it’s Eugene Celebration, but this is what it looks like at almost every concert.

    Downtown parking on weekends and at night is bad. Lucky’s, Track Town, Starlight Lounge, – all racks full, all parking meters full. Actually, the Starlight Lounge and Track Town tend to be full at 5pm on weekdays as well – racks and meters. (This would be a great spot for a Bike Corral)

    As far as your argument that we should just walk a block – consider this: At night you want to park your bike by the busy venue you are attending. Walking a block or two to a deserted street and using that rack is much less secure for your bike and much less secure for you. Daytime is not the only time people ride.

    I’m sure we could find evidence of whatever opinion we want to promote depending on when we take the pictures. My question is: since attaching rings to the meters is only around $16,500 – and downtown free parking is already costing us $220,000, what’s another “drop in the bucket” to keep the parking situation from getting worse?

    The $16,500 should have been included in the $220,000 loss in money figure at the beginning of the free parking debate.

    1. Hi Seager,
      The photos were shot about 6 p.m. last Wednesday evening. Probably not prime time, I admit. I wasn’t trying to get pictures that confirmed any preconceived notion. It just happened to be when this was on my mind as I was headed home from work. And it certainly jibed with my own experience. I ride through downtown twice a day, and I go there as a destination a fair amount. I’ve never had a problem parking my bike. But then, maybe I’m not there at peak times.
      As I mentioned in my response to Marc above, I don’t doubt the racks fill up often at big events at night. I don’t get out a lot at night these days (concert?), so maybe I’m missing that part of this story. Could well be. I guess the questions here are: How often do the racks fill up? Where? How can we improve those spots? And do we try to have capacity for the absolute busiest times, a Eugene Celebration concert, say, even though most of the spots will sit empty from November through May? I don’t know.
      I’m also sympathetic to the argument that maybe rings on the old meter posts are the best “bang for the buck” — as opposed to the public art idea. Let’s do both!

  3. Luckily, we have CAT and their Valet Parking for things like Eug Celebration – even with that running full all the meters and racks in the area were full. Without them I can’t imagine what downtown would look like during big events. ;)

  4. Joe here :)

    The point of the self-proclaimed rant was that when the city wants resources for cars, parking changes, removing the park blocks, multi-million dollar parking garages for Texas companies, road changes for parking, expressways through wetlands, removing bike lanes, removing bike lanes for a few dollars of sharrow paint, adding high tech overpriced parking gadgets, land swaps with Diamond Parking, building waking paths to LCC that are closed to bikes, etc. there is no problem (unless voters get in the way); however, when someone asks for ? $16,000 for bike the immediate and absolute response is the coffers are empty. If this were some hick town I would not care, but this is Eugene; celebrating Ruth Bascom and touting their biking culture.

    Regarding your post: Thank you for pointing out all the bike parking, it is very useful to know: here are a few random comments.

    It is when there is something going on. At Cosmic Pizza for Science Pub all the parking has been in fact full. I have had to park my bike over half way down the street in front of KLCC at a meter. True I could have gone to US Bank and parked easily solved.

    Also of note I have found that many of those blue bike racks like the ones you picture in front of Cosmic pizza, Sushi Ya, Lucky’s, etc. are not well anchored and a simple cordless wrench and thirty seconds could be removed and your $2,000 bike is gone. So given the option between these and a meter I chose the meter. I wonder if many of these racks are not put in by the city.

    Your picture of the Bike racks across from Lucky’s and at the US bank: These are very good sturdy racks and in a good locations for day use especially (US Bank during Saturday market). The picture shows 38 spots in front of US bank. This is awesome… there are two city owned parking garages right there as well how much did they cost and how many spaces are there for cars–Oooh and as an observation what happened/where are the bike lane on Willamette or are they priming for a sharrow? However, at night I do not like some of these locations. Both are in not well lit low traffic and in the case of Lucky’s undesirable traffic, when fights break out it is there and I have seen on two occasions the glass being broken out of the DIVA. So yes at night I prefer to lock my bike up at the meters in front of Davis, John Henery’s, or Cowfish which are well lit with bouncers standing there. This is the case where I stated that perhaps it would be advantageous if the city used some of those downtown redevelopment fund going to the cops to actually have 24 hour bike cop coverage downtown instead of paying for an new cop building being purchased from local developers that we have voted down ?3? times Perhaps there would be less fights, less property damage, and the other benefits Rudy found when he put cops on the corners.

    In any case (and again) as you I am sure you are aware: the response was a self-proclaimed rant about Eugene, yet again, paying lip service to ‘Bike Friendly’ while paying millions to be car friendly and developer friendly.

    Finally (really): I agree with your part 2. And as you can see from this rant as well: Just dreaming, I would like to see the city take over 1/2 parking space from one of the diamond lots and put a 24 hour manned well lit Police Kiosk/Station with two foot patrols downtown. Wedge in about 40-60 spots for bikes and I will feel comfortable riding downtown and locking up my bike for any event at any time. If diamond can find a way to staff a 24 hours why can’t the city? The other night I was downtown and a intoxicated woman was sitting on the ground bleeding across from Voodoo donuts, her intoxicated bleeding boyfriend was dazed saying they had been mugged; after sitting with them for a minute or two I was finally able to flag down a cop in an SUV. This is not only about bikes, this is my town.

    1. Joe! I appreciate you taking the time to explain. You make good points. As I said in some of the comments above, I don’t go downtown at night much these days (having small kids really hampers one’s nightlife). So you may well be right that anyone who goes downtown for late events — or anyone who is employed at a restaurant or bar and routinely works till midnight or 1 a.m (I lived that life for a while!) — faces a much different situation.

      You sort of make the case that it’s more a law-enforcement problem than a bike-parking problem. But in the absence of better public safety, it’s nice to park your bike where you — or someone — can keep an eye on it. I certainly understand that.

      I’m coming around to the idea that it would be good for the city to pony up for at least some meter-post rings — at least strategically placed in spots where there are not racks nearby.

      As for the city’s spending priorities, yeah: It’s probably not how I’d divvy up the pie either.

      Thanks for reading, Joe.

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