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One more way to gently ease people out of their cars

October 19th, 2009 · 12 Comments

A reader sent in this link on interesting efforts to tinker with the carrots and sticks for drivers in order to get them onto transit.

“Another interesting discussion for your blog perhaps?,0,2933172.story The article discusses Santa Monica’s plan to use market rates to manage their parking to short term stops, higher fees and programming to encourage transit use, walking and cycling. Other cities such as LA, Washington, DC and San Fran I believe are doing the same. I wonder how feasible that would be in Vancouver?”

We’re going to be hearing a lot more about this. As those of you who care passionately about this issue likely know, New York City’s transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Kahn, is in town today talking to TransLink and City of Vancouver planners, along with giving a public lecture at Simon Fraser University tonight, all about the politics and strategy of levelling the playing field for non-car travellers. A quote I saw about her in American Prospect had her describing her self as “radically pro-choice” when it comes to ensuring that options for all forms of transportation.

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  • Darcy McGee
  • While I had to miss the talk last night, I would like to echo the comment about the need for greater security for bikes. From my discussions with many cyclists and bike shop owners, and my own experience as a ‘new’ cyclist, I am convinced that far too many people are deterred from cycling because they fear their bikes will be stolen. And with good reason. Far too many bikes are stolen.

    The solutions? Bike cages are one idea that might work, especially located near transit stations (SkyTrain, etc.) with video monitoring. No doubt many of you have other ideas.

    If your bike is stolen, how many of you have thought to have someone etch your drivers’ license number onto your bike? This apparently is one idea to help get stolen bikes back to their proper owner. Not as good, but better than nothing is to go home tonight and make a note of the serial number on your bike. It’s there somewhere on the frame.

    I’m not sure if there is a central registry in the city. But if not, perhaps the Vancouver police can set one up. And if there is one, perhaps they can publicize it.

    My daughter tells me the story of her friend who works as a DJ at the Astoria and had her bike stolen. So while doing one of her shows she asks around…who’s the asshole who stole my lovely black and pink such and such a bike? After buying a few drinks, she had it back.

    Apparently ‘everyone’ in the DTES knows who steals a lot of the bikes in the city. The locals just pay to buy them back. I don’t think this is acceptable. In this case, it’s not just the theft of a possession; bike thefts are potentially undoing all the good of improved bike lanes, greenways, etc.

    I hope city staff and the police can come up with a comprehensive plan to deal with the significant number of bike thefts. I’m convinced this could have a very positive impact on the number of cyclists in the city. Or am I off base? If so, I’d also like to talk about helmets!

  • Joe Just Joe

    MG, I agree completely that bike theft is a major deterrent to a lot of people. I beleive the number one reason is still laziness (myself included). Most people will list safety as the number one reason but they just don’t want to admit they are lazy. Bike theft and weather are probably the next biggest reasons. Nothing we can do about the weather, and the safety issue is starting to be addressed altough it’s alot more expensive to tackle then the bike theft issue would be. Perhaps the mayor can extend his green agenda to target that very issue.

  • “I’m not sure if there is a central registry in the city. But if not, perhaps the Vancouver police can set one up. And if there is one, perhaps they can publicize it.”

    There was one. Propertycop. Came and went due to lack of funding.

    A bike’s serial number is usually on the bottom of the frame at the ‘bottom bracket’ (where the pedals/crankarms are attached to the frame.

  • Bill Lee

    The (Polson typewriter) shop on Broadway and Yukon used to be the City bike registration, about $3 and you got a decal. Fines could be levied if you didn’ t have the decal attached.

    The bike recovery centre was on the second floor off Yukon and run by civilians with some police liaison.
    I think the system was shut down for a multitude of reasons in the 1970s.

    As far as motivation, there is a multitude of reasons.
    One of the main 0bjections, sweat (and its related I-don’t-want-to-get-wet-in-the-rain) could be alleviated if where taught the proper adjustment of the bike (size, saddle, handlebars, etc), inflated their tires hard (I still see people pinching their tires by hand! as a measure), and had better pedaling technique.
    Cycling doesn’t have to be an effort. So much of the city is undulating, that the secret that cyclists share is that they coast much of the route, they don’t need to pedal.

    Rain? Cape, booties, gloves and a better attitude to being mildly damp on the face and the hands.
    Besides, the heat island effect often means that it doesn’t rain in the morning commute, but at noon and early afternoon.

    Pedal away.

  • Duncan Cavens

    I agree that fear of theft is a major deterrent- interesting to see how Europeans have dealt with it. Because their cities are denser, and destinations tend to be a lot closer, there’s less of a need for fancy (expensive) bikes with lightweight materials. So people tend to ride older clunkers to work that no one would dream of stealing.

    Densification makes sense for so many reasons. I’m glad that we’re finally moving forward (albeit too slowly) on incremental infill like laneway housing. We need more examples though.

  • Darcy McGee

    > Bike cages are one idea that might work,
    > especially located near transit stations
    > (SkyTrain, etc.) with video monitoring.

    Many skytrain stations do offer bike lockers. I see them often as I cycle past.

    The problem is they’re designed around the “regular” commuter: the idea is that you rent one at your “local” skytrain station to which you pedal, leave your bike and then continue on your way on transit.

    A nice idea, but it doesn’t do much for spontaneity.

    There’s been quite a bit of innovatio non secure bike parking (trees, underground automated systems.) If the city were to install a few of these that were either coin operated or offered a “pay card” of some sort, I’d be happy to use them. They’d be particularly useful in the downtown area.

  • Thanks for this. Someone suggested we should have ‘bait bikes’ like bait cars! I really like this idea. I’m sure something could be installed within the frame.

    I’m also wondering whether it might be helpful to create secure bike parking in existing parking garages. Perhaps 0ne could take a few car spaces and convert them into secure bike spaces. Has this been done?

  • Joe Just Joe

    Don’t think there is a current need to take car parking spaces and replace them with bike parking spaces , at least not citywide, but it would probably work is some locations, like schools, bus loops and skytrain stations. What I would like to see is although all new developments seem to have ample bike space for residents, there seems to be lack of guest bike parking spots, could be easily addressed.

  • Joe Just Joe

    And a personal pet peeve of mine, one of my guilty pleasures is mcdonalds I admit it, I justify it to myself by biking there on occassion. I have yet to see one that has spots to lock up my bike. Now I admit that there probably isn’t alot of people that bike to a fast food joint, but it would at least appear as good optics to have bike racks.

  • Darcy McGee

    > Perhaps 0ne could take a few car spaces and convert them into secure bike
    > spaces. Has this been done?

    I’m not aware of anywhere this has happened. It’s an interesting idea: essentially embodying the principle that if you build a temple to the automobile you need to provide a small amount of space to the alternative.

    The trick to parking a bike safely is visibility: I’ve never had a bike stolen (though I did have pedals stolen once…blurg!) and that’s a combination of a decent lock, dumb luck and being careful about where to park it. It’s no coincidence that the highest theft bike rack on Granville Island–at least I assume that’s why it’s the only one with a sign on it–is the one down the side alley between the public market and the Arts Club Theatre. It’s a relatively low traffic area.

    Bike thieves–like car thieves–aren’t rocket scientists. They usually just go for the lowest hanging fruit.

    I’m not sure putting bike racks in parking garages helps with visibility, but some lots patrol with security guards. Having a “secure cage” that’s coin operated doesn’t really help: it just makes the cost of bike theft whatever the coin cost is. I don’t think theft is going to be eliminated no matter how hard we try…just make it harder.

    An example of a fancy new way to park bikes (I didn’t have the link handy.)

    I don’t, incidentally, think it’s the city’s job to provide secure bike parking everywhere I go. I *do* think the city could take a leadership role in looking into some alternatives at some high traffic public locations, for example:

    – Vancouver Aquatic Centre racks are regularly full
    – Granville Island has enough racks but certain ones are often stuffed to the brim.
    – Kitsilano Pool in the summer and, for that matter, all of Kits Beach
    – Stanley Park has insufficient bike parking in MANY areas. Concerts at Malkin Bowl see people locking bikes to trees, benches, and fences. There’s only one rack in that entire area.

    These are destinations that many people cycle too.

    (Aside: I often think the city should require bike racks on multi-unit residences, without getting too specific about the nature of the rack. Many many side streets have no parking meters, poles, or city provided bike racks which can make it hard to visit people by bicycle. If every building provided a small two bike rack, the world would probably be a better place.)

  • Darcy McGee