Sunday, March 8, 2009

Things that hold your bike upright

A lot of cyclists complain about poorly designed bike racks. The ones that you had at your middle school that you could slide the front tire into (see picture). 

Since you can only get your front (or rear) tire in contact with any part of the rack, you can only lock that one part to the rack. For those who use quick-release wheels, these racks are even more troublesome. If you only lock your wheel to the rack, it is pretty easy to remove the wheel and abscond with the remainder of the bike.

These kinds of racks are everywhere, and somehow more are being installed! But I'm not here to complain about these run-of-the-mill, poorly-designed bike racks and the poorly-informed jerks who install them. Instead, I want to point out certain bike racks that are especially insulting to the user or which border on complete uselessness.

First, we have this bike "rack" at the main post office in Poitiers:

It is conveniently located just steps from the entrance, though if anyone were to actually use it, people would have to walk into the street to get around the bikes.  As you can see above, my bike is blocking the entire sidewalk.

And once you've locked your bike to it and stepped back, you should notice something odd. The part of the rack you've locked to is open!! 

If you rotate the wheel a little and slide the lock down, the lock comes right off the rack. How convenient if you lost your key while in the post office. Or perhaps this is the mayor's attempt at a bike-sharing program?

Incidentally, if you were to lock you wheel slightly differently, like this:

...the trick doesn't work and the bike is slightly safer. Another interesting area of common interest between cycling and knot theory.

The second location for insulting bike racks can be found at (where else?) Géant Casino... 

This is the side entrance with no bike parking, though many people lock to the railing pictured above. But since the railing is only a few inches from the plastic backing, I can't get my bike close enough on one of the three sides to the railing to use my small u-lock. So, I end up hanging it off one of the corners (as pictured above).

Around the front of the store there is a something resembling a bike rack, and it is sheltered from the rain:

It is also located on top of a grate where you can conveniently deposit your cigarette butts (and beer and urine from the smell of it) before entering the store.

In case you do find real bike racks that are protected from the rain, chances are that the motorcyles and mopeds have taken all the spots. Because everyone knows those can't stand up by themselves...

And just to prove that Poitiers' cyclists don't necessarily know any better, here's two local bike shops, which are completely free of bike parking:

Keep up the good work everyone.


AnneG said...

Tout à fait d'accord avec cette présentation du stationnement calamiteux des vélos à Poitiers.
L'association vélocité.86 se réunit justement ce soir à Beaulieu pour réfléchir à toute action concrète à mener en 2009 en particulier auprès des décideurs : collectivités, employeurs, commerçants...
Si vous avez des idées, vous pouvez en faire part à l'adresse mail de l'assoc ou même participer à cette réunion qui est ouverte à tous.

Trevor said...

Well I thoroughly enjoyed this post Jefe. Snarky posts about bicycles in France? -- A+ for your unbridled honesty and the well deserved "huh-ness?"

Very cool you guys have a following of local readers there. Do you know how many hits the blog gets?

Vocivélo said...

Sorry to comment so late your post but I use a fantastic parking for my bicycle when I go shopping at the Géant Casino: automatic slide doors opening when I arrive, air conditionned in summer and heated in winter, protected againts rain and sun shine... The perfect cocooning house for my friend. See the picture at:
It was last saturday at the middle entrance.
Mr Vocivélo