Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rack and Opinion: The Future of Bike Parking in NYC

One of my favorite things about New York City is that it always manages to outdo itself. A mere 24 hours after surrendering the bike lane to a yogurt-slurping cab driver, my progress was again impeded, this time by a Departent of Sanitation worker who cavalierly dropped two full bags of garbage right in front of me:

DOT workers are colloquially known as "New York's Strongest," though in this particular instance a different superlative came to mind. In the time it took me to get over my shock, withdraw my camera, and set up my tripod, he finally deigned to remove them, which is what you see him doing above. Nonetheless, it was a poignant reminder of where I stand in society's transportation heirarchy.

Nonetheless, even the relentless flow of smelly, slippery garbage water cannot erode my faith that things will get better for us. It just so happens that the ten finalists in the Department of Transportation's CityRacks Design competition have been announced. Certainly, cleverly-designed racks are just what this city needs in order to improve its cyclists' quality of life, though I must confess I was disappointed by the designs they chose, since most of them seem to put form ahead of function. Lowlights include:

This One

Brilliant. Fortunately, New York City bike thieves have yet to unlock the mystery of the quick-release skewer, so a bike rack to which you can only lock your front wheel should prove highly effective;

This One

This one bothers me because they failed to take the design all the way:

By stopping with their "Almost-spoke" concept, the designers missed the opportunity to seize upon something truly great. Personally, I'd like to see a variety of bike racks throughout the city based on various stupid wheel designs --sort of a real-life Retarded Wheelset Hall of Fame;

This One

I'm beginning to detect a theme here, and that theme is "front wheel locking only." Is there some sort of conspiracy going on here? Granted, I guess it is possible to lock both your frame and your wheel to this particular rack, but it's also possible to do that with a street sign. So basically this rack has all the disadvantages of a regular pole (ugly, room for only two bikes) with none of the advantages (conveying to the public useful street-cleaning information).

The fact is that the judges would have been well-advised to take the many designs I submitted a bit more seriously. I mentioned a few of them not too long ago, my favorite being the pirate rack, which Erik K was kind enough to render as it would appear if it were installed in front of the Chowdah Shop:

Besides those, I also proposed using real-life ex-cons to guard people's bike:

Not only are ex-cons intimidating, but many of them are looking for ways to re-integrate themselves into society, and I think it's more socially responsible to offer them gainful employment than it is to spend money fabricating inanimate objects and bolting them into the ground. Also, tattoos and body piercings are so hot right now. (This particular individual has a bright future ahead of him as an urban bike polo player, according to the guidelines put forth by John Kennedy of the U.S. Bike Polo Association.)

I also provided my "spin" on more traditional designs, like this one:

Sure, at first glance it might look like a giant hairball, but upon closer inspection the advantages of this design are obvious. Apart from its superior capacity, it also rotates, so you don't have to walk around and around it looking for your ride. It's sort of a hybrid of a berry tree and a tie rack.

Whatever. I'm not one to cry over spilt garbage water. I've got more pressing concerns, chief among them the fact that I've been "tagged" by Fat Cyclist, whatever that means. I guess it's a "thing." My first impulse was to just ignore it, since I'm generally not into "things." Also, I figured if I'm going to play tag now I might as well play the way I did when I was a kid, which is to give the tagger a dirty look and just stand there. But in many ways Fat Cyclist is the Patron of cycling bloggers, so I figured I should play along for my own good. Not only that, but I kind of wanted to answer some of the questions. So I figured I'd do it, but I'd do it my way. And since my way involves doing things late and half-assed, I'm only going to answer a few of the questions like a day and a half after he tagged me. So here goes:

If you could have any one — and only one — bike in the world, what would it be?

A custom steel five-person tandem road/mountain/track/cyclocross/commuter bike. Then I'd saw it into five bikes. Ha! In your face!

Do you already have that coveted dream bike? If so, is it everything you hoped it would be? If not, are you working toward getting it? If you're not working toward getting it, why not?

Dream bikes are for dreamers and work is for suckers. I'm a realist and I'm not working towards anything. All my bikes are reality bikes. And they're all I hoped they would be, which isn't much.

If you had to choose one — and only one — bike route to do every day for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?

Around and around Prospect Park, because thanks to the local race schedule that seems to be what I do anyway and I don't think I'd notice.

Do you ride both road and mountain bikes? If both, which do you prefer and why? If only one or the other, why are you so narrowminded?

Both. I prefer mountain bikes though, because even though mountain bikes are no good on the road the last time I took my road bike through a rock garden I really regretted it. Also, there are roadies on the road.

Suppose you were forced to either give up ice cream or bicycles for the rest of your life. Which would you give up, and why?

Ice cream is the world's most overrated food. I could take it or leave it. In fact, I'd give it up for nothing if you asked me nicely. Ice cream is for people who are easily amused. Sure, it tastes slightly better than some other foods, but when you're a true crank like me it takes more than some frozen lactose to make things tolerable. I'm not lactose intolerant, but I am lactose indifferent.

What is a question you think this questionnaire should have asked, but has not? Also, answer it.

This is more of a personal question, but I recently saw the movie "Teeth," at Stevil of HTATBL's recommendation, and, uh, well...can that really happen? I'm really hoping the answer is, "No."

Okay, now I'm supposed to tag three other bloggers, so I've chosen three of my favorites:

The Climb

Cycling WMD

Trackosaurusrex (home of the 1:1 word/exclamation point ratio)

I now feel like taking a scalding hot shower and scrubbing the "dork" off me with steel wool. Of course, if you have a blog feel free to join in, and all the best to FC.


mary poppins said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I got nervous descending.

Anonymous said...

6 ain't too shabby

Anonymous said...

Lucky 7!


baybutt said...

happy to be riding

Anonymous said...

2nd straight top 10

erik zabel baby!

Joe said...

and this makes 10

baybutt said...

lactose indfferent! hah

nolucker said...

SNOB- Spoke with Daniella Levi yesterday, whom I know personally (bad sentence structure, I know). She knows nothing about the alleged Ricci case.

haterNation said...

Cycling WMD, this guy is great. All of his posts start with titles like "DUDE OMFG im CREAMING MY PANTS" or "BLOODY F*KING HELL MAN".

This guys idea of raging is getting a 6 pack of beer, cranking heavy metal, and looking for "b-b-b-BITCHIN NOS" stuff on ebay.

Anonymous said...

i shoulda been a fucking architect.

Rags said...

What happened to all those commenters from June 22, 2007 (the The Retarded Wheelset Hall of Fame post)? They seemed to actually ride bikes and know things.

veloben said...


Use brass or bronze wool. With steel wool the embedded bits tend to rust over time and you'll end up looking all pimply.

Jim said...

SNOB - I spoke with a taxi driver yesterday, along with the lady at the Korean dry cleaners who cleans my pants, and some guy in the street - all of whom I know personally (in a "hey, why are you staring at me and walking away very quickly?" kind of way). They didn't know anything about the Ricardo Ricco case.

Calvin said...

rags... I noticed that. It's about time we drove those guys outta here.

Simon said...

In breaking news Mary Poppins' urine has tested non-non-negative for CERA since we secretly put in one tiny molecule into 100mL of non-non-EPO-but-works-like-EPO that was detected when sniffing the sample- FADA have perfected their sniffing through generations of whine.

Since then, Team Magic Nanny have pulled out of the Le BSNYC-podiumitus and anonymous July23, 2008 12:13 PM has been awarded the stage win. This doping non-non-negative result has truly hit the Podiumeans in the face, like a big bowl of Giraffe.

PS: What's wrong with multiple tubular steel pipes that are cemented at one end, bend, go straight, bend and get cemented at the other end? Vote Pirate.

ant1st said...


Jim said...

Wait. What happened to Christina Ricci?

nolucker said...

jim.... very cute, in a snarky sorta way. Daniella don't love dogs

Andrew said...

nothing happend to christina ricci.
but ricky riccardo got thrown off the TDF for Babaloo or something.

Heidi Mo said...

but i want to know if you've ever ridden a recumbent or raced in a triathalon!

BikeSnobNYC said...


There isn't enough money, booze, or LSD in the world to get me to do either.


Anonymous said...

Ricco Suave's a doper?

ant1st said...

I swam in the middle of a bunch of jelly fish once, does that make me a triathlete?

KanyonKris said...

Let's count: Swimming (1), Getting stung (2), Screaming in agony (3). Yep, that's a triathlon. Congratulations.

ant1st said...

sweet. now i can wear tank tops and girl-length shorts!

Cool The Kid said...

I have a solution for the bike lock problem...

State issued Jamis Commuters, available w/fixed gear, freewheel, multigear etc. configurations

Nobody is stealing those

And everyone gets to ride...

Train and cab usage goes down

The streets of NYC look like this:

A beautiful thing.

Joseph said...

Serious comment warning!

They should make bike-racks that work like those station coin-lockers, meaning they have some built in lock mechanisms with a removable key (deposit or small charge)so people don't have to carry huge U-locks around with them all the time. Of course they would have to be designed pretty well to be effective and thievery proof.

erik k said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
erik k said...

Wait, snob what about the chicken suit?

specialrider said...

geez, everyone worried about locking their bikes up...hello, its called Bike Friday.

ant1st said...

joseph - thanks for the warning, i was about to read it. good ideas have no place on this comment page.

Joseph said...

I felt a little dirty after posting that serious comment.

Anonymous said...

Teeth! Did anyone read the plot?WTF!

rachel rianne said...

hahaha teeth.
good lord, i hope that's not real.

Barkernews said...

Best Ebay ad ever:

And I quote:

"This is the perfect bar and stem set for one of you hipster douchebags to hang off your brakeless track bike or fixie or fixed gear or freestyler or whatever the hell you're calling your douchecycle. Goes perfect with girls' jeans, fugly green deep-v wheels and top tube pad. Good for record skids, bar spins or just hitting yourself in the forehead."

Bikeslob 80220 said...

In other non bike-related news, check out this douchebaggery:
Of course, Portland is mentioned in the article
Could someone help them pull their heads out of their asses soon?

Barkernews said...

Jealousy is so ugly.

PDX is better than your town and you know it.

frilly said...

I read the plot & gotta say, I would love to be Dawn. That would be freakin' awesome!

'Oh yes, baby, you know I want it.'

mark said...

Locking bikes is cool and all that, but Teeth was one of the scaries movies I've ever seen!

g said...

I am loving the return to the more personal side of BSNYC/RTMS. I was afraid I was going to have to track down the guy that spit on you to get you back on track.

Anonymous said...

Someone's been reading!

bikesgonewild said...

..."ahmmmm, ah..."...(shrivel)...

Anonymous said...

you are the man for giving in. fat cyclist is a good guy and now i believe you may be as well.

Bikeslob 80220 said...

For the Milwaukee CL guy, I'll throw in a vintage ironic t-shirt to complete the package. I wore it in eighth grade in 1983 before it became ironic and it doesn't fit anymore. It's a Triumph Never Suurender concert tee (they were a mulleted Canadian prog rock band that was not Rush). I just never felt cool enough to go to the mall and buy the Iron Maiden shirt that I really wanted.

As for Portland, I'll stick with my 300 days of sunshine and an F-350 in every driveway. Fuck yeah.

mmat said...

here the problem isn't garbage bags or cabbies eating yogurt in the bike lanes, it's usually pedestrians. it's a pain in the ass when you're riding down the bike path, ringing your bell and some 80 year old turns around and waves to you rather than get out of the way. fucking fuckers.

In Stahlgewittern said...

Bike Snob,

I have a question which isn't directly related to this particular post, but I hope you'll answer it.

In the past you have said that you commute with two bikes: a cyclocross bike (for poor weather) and a track bike.

Given the amount of criticism you've produced against the absurdities of the fixster scene, especially its emphasis on aesthetics over practicality ('sense'), how are you able to resolve this with the fact that you commute with a track bike, which is not the most practical choice for urban commuting?


Rick said...

So is NYPD still cutting locked bikes off of NYDOT bike racks?

Over at Bicycle Fixation we ran a best & worst bike rack contest; the best were pretty good, and the worst were priceless--check it out:

Scroll down to see all the racks.

On a serious note, we also found an excellent document on effective bike rack design that every DOT should be forced to read:

Anonymous said...

national weather service says:

average annual precipitation:
portland, or = 36.30"
central park, nyc = 49.69"

broomie said...

Yeah, How dare those 80 year-olds walk outside and compound the insult by being pleasant!

Shame! They should walk in the street so the trails are safe for the rest of us.

Rick said...

I really like the "Almost-spoke" bicycle rack. It looks like I imagine God's belt buckle would look. That is if He needed something other than faith to keep his pants up.

mr.complaint said...

but I like the Ecology Bike Holders. It takes me back to the days of the slinky style cable with a master lock.

Anonymous said...

You tagged Rob Mackey? He'll fax a copy of the question to Chris Carmichael and let him work on it for a bit.

short hair said...

here in Portland we are getting a 10,000 dollar bike rack ... gotta love it

short hair said...

ohh, did I mention its for a bunch of children's bikes

Lucky 7 said...

That garbage juice will give a whole new meaning to Bike Lane Culture.


frilly said...

Are the helmets and first aid kits for the kids? Or for the dipshit adults who fly down the hills on kids bikes?

And, $10k? Better add a couple of zeroes for the impending lawsuits.

short hair said...

frilly - children do not use these children bikes, its just for self proclaimed freaks who dress up weird, take mass transit to the top of the hill and then "bomb" down , aka without brakes. All while one these mini-bikes. we also have a full time mini-bike dance team. If this is not for you then don't move here

frilly said...

Hmmm, I wondered what was up with the pink crew. While I am a frilly chick, I think the hot pink hair might be a bit over the top for me.

Anonymous said...


Lucky 7 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

that sculpture could be "improved" with a bulldozer

Anonymous said...

BSNYC/RTMS... come on... be honest with yourself... it's not the tagging that makes you want to take a hot shower and scrub the dork let's not blame Fat Cyclist...

it's the fact that, of your own accord as far as we know, you actually used the term "rack and opinion" as an acceptable title. In my many years of knowing (and even loving ) puns and the punsters who create them... this title is a new low.

Please... Please.... for your own sake , and for the sake of your loved ones... seek help before this lapse in sanity takes root in your soul... otherwise the grim reality of recumbent bike ownership may not be too far behind....

Jonathan said...

i think "rack and opinion" is genius. pure, unadulterated genius.

ant1st said...

I'm pro rack and opinion myself. If you're gonna insult a post title, at least present a better one.

Frilly - I think the hot pink hair is nature's way of saying there are teeth down there, stay away.

Nicholas Whitaker said...

check out my tribute video to superior NYC bike lanes.

Nicholas Whitaker said...

and here is the link.

Anonymous said...

@anon 3.54 - learn to use periods. your post is irritating and stupid when you don't use them.

Anonymous said...

@anon 3.54 - learn to use periods. your post is irritating and stupid when you don't use them.

Anonymous said...

I watched Teeth because of this post. Don't make my mistake.

leroy said...

nicholas whitaker --

The horror. The horror.

I liked the last shot of the police cars in the bike lane. Priceless.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 3:54am,

It is a sin to pass up a bad pun.


Anonymous said...

jeez people relax....

i wasn't ACTUALLY in all seriousness insulting the title... i was teasing him about the pun and how puns can lead to recumbent bicycle ownership.

get a grip people.

-anon 3:54

Anonymous said...

when mattress brands compete, you save

Mr T said...

Hey Bike Snob,

I like your bike racks, hilarious dude. I entered several designs myslelf, not as funny as yours but way more practical than the ones I've seen. Lemme know if you wanna have a look and I can show you.

Mr T

ashhar said...

Thank you for the wonderful effort

إني تذكـرت والذكرى مؤرقـة * مجـداً تلـيدا بأيـدينا أضعـناه
أنَّى اتجهتَ للإسـلام في بـلـدٍ * تجْده كالطيرِ مقصـوصًا جناحـاه
كـم صرفتنا يـدٌ كنـا نـصرفها * وبات يـملكنا شعب مـلكناه
بالله سل خلف
بحر الروم عن عرب *

بالأمس كانوا هنا واليوم قد تاهوا
وانزل دمشق وسائل صخر مسجدها * عمن بناه لعل الـصخر ينعـاه
هذى معـالم خرس كـل واحـدة * منهن قامت خطيبـا فاغرا فـاه
الله يعلم ما قلبت سـيرتهم يومـا * وأخطـأ دمـع الـعين مـجراه
يا من يرى عمـراتكسوه بردته * الزيت أدمٌ لـه والكـوخ مـأواه
يهتز كسـرى على كرسيه فرقـا * من خوفه ، وملوك الروم تخشـاه
يا رب فابعث لنا من مثلهم نفـرا * يشـيدون لـنا مـجدا أضعنـاه

ashhar said...

Thank you for the wonderful effort

إني تذكـرت والذكرى مؤرقـة * مجـداً تلـيدا بأيـدينا أضعـناه
أنَّى اتجهتَ للإسـلام في بـلـدٍ * تجْده كالطيرِ مقصـوصًا جناحـاه
كـم صرفتنا يـدٌ كنـا نـصرفها * وبات يـملكنا شعب مـلكناه
بالله سل خلف بحر الروم عن عرب * بالأمس كانوا هنا واليوم قد تاهوا
وانزل دمشق وسائل صخر مسجدها * عمن بناه لعل الـصخر ينعـاه
هذى معـالم خرس كـل واحـدة * منهن قامت خطيبـا فاغرا فـاه
الله يعلم ما قلبت سـيرتهم يومـا
* وأخطـأ دمـع الـعين


يا من يرى عمـراتكسوه بردته *

الزيت أدمٌ لـه والكـوخ مـأواه

يهتز كسـرى على كرسيه فرقـا * من خوفه ،

وملوك الروم تخشـاه

يا رب فابعث لنا من مثلهم نفـرا * يشـيدون لـنا مـجدا أضعنـاه

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Steve Paul said...

This seems to be that the blog is not well mantained. Gatwick Parking

Freya George said...

Nice share. Either car or bicycle meet and greet gatwick is a great help.

Jenna Catlin said...

found this post interesting! bikes as well ass cars should be locked and parked properly.
Meet and greet car parking Gatwick

Sohaib Ahmed said...

Really interesting...
meet and greet parking manchester

carla grace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
carla grace said...

biking on mountains sounds interesting and give an enthusiastic courage to adventure . whether its a car or a bike it should be locked and secure. in this regard tag to meet and greet parking Gatwick

perry cole said...

There must b locks which should be designed accordingly so people can be able to not bring the big u locks with them . In this regard cheap gatwick parking can help better.

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