30 August 2012

No parking

For a city driven by bikes, it is a wonder that we don't have updated or even sufficient parking facilities. The message is: take your bike everywhere, just don't leave it behind. With so many of us, you can imagine the mess we get into sometimes. What are we to do? Cyclists will always take a cue from the infrastructure, and in the absence of that, follow the intricate and oddly predictable patterns of those already parked.

It can get pretty desperate, especially around train and metro stations, or at home where the cars get all the parking space. Leaving cyclists (the majority, mind you) cramming our bikes up the wall, taking up precious sidewalk space. No way would anyone consider substituting every fourth car parking space with bike parking, giving room for 8-10 people, over just one. There is simply no way. Even if you only have to look to a city like Amsterdam to see that it works. And, there you offer people a bike rack they can bolt their bikes to at night, not the flimsy useless Copenhagen front wheel parking rack that belong in another century.

Recently we learned that the government plans to allow the city to remove bikes parked "wrong". As it is now, they can't. The city spokesperson is excited, yay, getting rid of bikes. All the while conveniently ignoring that no option was provided to park it right in the first place. A logistical nightmare.

You get a feeling that the politicians don't live in the real world. Like they don't know what it is like to have (and rely on) a bike, with nowhere to park it. Maybe it's because the bike parking facilities for the Parliament look like this:

Christiansborg cykelparkering

The Parliament is closed for the summer, making for some nice and clutterfree shots.

Christiansborg cykelparkering

Danish Parliament parking rack

Danish Parliament parking rack

Danish Parliament parking rack

Customized parking rack detail

Is it too much to hope for that the planners would consult actual bike users, from the real world? Or would that make to much sense? Mr. Colville from Copenhagenize calls it cyclist harrassment. I couldn't agree more.

12 comments:

  1. "actual bike users", aka normal people, shouldn't go any where near the parliament. Democracy isn't designed for that (irony)

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    1. Actual bike users should get in line and see what the legislators use for their own bikes. Maybe then they would question the shitty conditions they are offered.

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  2. Right on, Sandra! What I don't get, is this: why, when it seems obvious that bikes and public transport combined better solve the majority (my gut feeling) of the transportation needs of a "normal" (non-suburb) Copenhagen family (yes, even WITH children) AND is better for the environment, etc. etc. (), is it still DEFAULT that roads are for cars - and bikes are secondary...crammed into our own tiny lane to be bottled up and frustrate each other?

    Note that I say "normal", so I am not talking about e.g. people with special transportation needs OR about businesses delivering goods. When it is pouring down, taking the family on vacation or need to do big grocery shopping, by all means, take your car. Just don't sit one person in your car every morning driving from Vesterbro to Østerbro filling up the roads, being a danger to others, being noisy, polluting and being inefficient and hopelessly so last century!

    I guess I am simply asking: why it is so controversial discussing closing or limiting cars' use of roads when the roads can be utilized so much more efficiently by cars and buses - ending up a benefit for both the individual (well, most, anyway) and society as a whole?

    (Even if you are an eeeeeeeeeeevil banker, only considering cold hard kroner, I think these views are valid)

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    1. Oh, I agree with all of it! And, it is interesting that right now bike lanes are made at the cost of pedestrian areas. Like they are trying to make the weakest in traffic opposites. Cars are not asked to sacrifice the same way. In my street alone, they just cancelled one side of the sidewalk to make (car-) parking spaces. How visionary. Not.

      It would be nice if someone in the planning department came up with a real vision for the future of urban transportation. Perhaps just starting by offering us a place to park our bikes?

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  3. Da Troels Lund Poulsen var miljøminister var der reserveret plads til hans cykel indenfor i foyeren i miljøministeriet. Meget bekvemt.

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    1. Cykelparkering skal være bekvemt, man forstår da manden så godt. Desværre er det ikke lige så sjovt at stille hesten fra sig uden for murene..

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  4. Two comments:

    1) that's not bike parking - it's car bomb protection made to look like bike parking (juts like those ugly concrete things in front of the US embassy are not really flower beds).

    2) Yes to most things you say about bike parking, but with the addition that I really wish more people could be bothered to actually make an effort to park their bike in a sensible way, and just not feel entitled to drop where they stand.

    The area around Frederiksberg Centeret is case in point. There's actually a nice bike parking facility, complete with a bike shed running the length of the centre, on the north side (the side opposite the metro station). And it's mostly empty most of the time. And more often than not it's near impossible to get to it (esp from the Falkoner Alle side), because of all the bikes littering the very path to the bike parking. This is just people being lazy and inconsiderate. And it it - unfortunately - the kind of behaviour that motivates and provides an argument for stupid initiatives like those you describe.

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    1. Okay. For comment 1:

      How crazy cool! The effort to make something ugly useful and beautiful at the same time should be applied to the rest of our city as well. Round up the thinkers! Get users, designers and urban planners in one room and see what they come up with.

      And 2:
      I will have to go by Frederiksberg Centeret and see the bike parking area you are talking about. Without knowing the logistics, I can guess that it is placed in an out of the way area. Am I right?

      I am unimpressed with parking facilities that are remote and impractical to use. Architects come up with bike parking the way they would car parking. But realistically you need to place them where people use them. Near the destination (same reason why drivers park IN the bike lane right next to the destination, not wanting to go through a maze to get from A to B is human).

      It is not too much to ask that busy spots like a train station have thought about enough space to meet the needs of the commuters. If you need to plan bike parking, look where people leave the bikes, and then come up with a system that accommodates that. One that doesn't obstruct entrances.

      I still say the problem is poor planning, not bad behavior by (the majority of) cyclists.

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  5. I feel the same way here about the transit system. Politicians need to use these types of transportation or seriously consult with people who rely on them heavily before making these types of decisions.

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    1. Well said. It really is that simple: educate yourself on the subject you are in charge of, and consult the users. Why can't they see that? UGH.

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  6. I know we talked about this a little bit on Twitter, but this is a major problem in Portland too. Though we haven't started really removing bikes that are "improperly" parked, because there aren't enough bikes for it to be a major problem, we have woefully inadequate parking even for the number of bikes we do have, and much of the time, you end up having to lock to street signs or trees or anything else that seems relatively unmovable.

    We're starting to remove the occasional street car parking spot to put in some bike racks in commercial areas, but it's terrible in residential areas. I now live in the most dense residential area in all of Portland and there are maybe 3 bike racks, with room for two bikes at each rack, within about 5 blocks of our apartment. This is in an area where a significant percentage of people do not own a car, because there simply isn't room for everyone to own a car there. People are expected to keep their bicycles in their apartment or house, even if it is on the 5th floor, in a 35 sq meter apartment. Sometimes apartment buildings have a basement or laundry room large enough to accommodate bicycle parking, but then often you have to take your bike down narrow, steep steps, through small doors, etc.

    But if you remove any car parking, clearly all the businesses nearby will completely fail, and the world will end.

    There was a project to close a small street in one neighborhood of Portland to automobiles, as it was rarely used by cars, and there were maybe 12 parking spots along the whole length (about a kilometer, maybe). This would have created a car-free bike route all the way through the area, down to one of the major bridges across the river. The entire advisory committee for the project voted FOR it, except one person, a representative of a large real estate company. He managed to completely derail the plan on the grounds that they would not give up the car parking, and then got the project completely switched, privately, without any public input, to another nearby street, which currently does not have any car parking - and the new project would ADD car parking all along the street, and complicate the already existing bike lanes by making them move in and out of the car parking at different places.

    This is what is considered the most bike-friendly city in the U.S.

    Actual legislators in Oregon (except maybe one) only use bicycles (for transportation) when they're doing a media event that focuses on bicycles. Telling. They'll hype it up till they're blue in the face, but they're not doing it themselves.

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    1. This is a subject that I feel strongly about. And, injustice really makes me angry. As well as stupid or insufficient solutions. I want to do a post on the crappy and hopelessly outdated bike parking racks that the city of Copenhagen STILL spends a fortune on. It is not designed to secure your bike, but just keep it in a certain position. It so happens that it is a really unhealthy way to leave your bike, and bike dealers always warn you not to use them, as your front wheel are likely to bend. All it takes is a bike falling on it, or some moron taking a trip through all the bikes, leaning on them for fun.

      But it is still offered as the (only) solution. What we need is the designated space, and something grounded to lock it to. Also, it is a joke that every single street in Copenhagen has such limited parking facilities for bikes. And, nothing covered for the wintertime, for instance, when the snow is falling. Far from everybody have a dry area or a basement to place their bike. We are forced to leave our rides out in the weather (wearing it down too fast), locked to whatever we can find. A non-solution making cleaning sidewalks difficult and taking up space that should be used by pedestrians.

      People are so used to cursing the bike owners, blaming them for being egotistical, while they are in fact the very opposite. Why don't they take the aggression out on the stupid car blocking what should rightfully be bike parking space, instead?

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