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Reader photo: How not to park your bike

Posted by Elly Blue (Columnist) on July 1st, 2009 at 3:33 pm

An example of rude bike parking on Vancouver Ave. (Photo by Mary)

A reader just sent this photo in with this comment:

"Shame on You" bike parking today at the Red Cross on Vancouver Ave, near the hospital. Very funny, and sad, and annoying as all hell. I could not fit my bike into the rack, hooked it to the handrail, and got a "warning" from security.

Do you run across examples of thoughtless bike parking practices in your daily rounds? Here's a chance to get it off your chest and make suggestions for improvement.

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Comments
  • Paul Tay July 1, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Simply lock the offensive bike with your own lock. Problem SOLVED.

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  • Joe Adamski July 1, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    There are some pretty poorly designed bike racks out there. The one in question is among them. The standard staple rack, while plain, is one of the better ones. It allows the bike to remain secured upright, with 2 locking points. those 'wave' style racks are difficult to get into if you are trying to get between two bikes, only offer one lockng point, and usually end up with the bike knocked over. Werse yet are the 'wheel only' racks which allow you to only lock your bike at the wheel. A falling over bike almst guarantees a bent wheel.

    The Fred Meyers by my house has several of those wave racks. I lock to a building pole rather than have to endure those POS racks.

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  • patrickz July 1, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    ...and attach a note that reads: "rudeness award"
    On a more practical level, I've thought about carrying a PostIt pad and leave a polite little message to the owner. I've run into this situation a couple of times.

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  • Andrea Arbuckle July 1, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Can we leave stickers, spoke cards, or a friendly how-to guide on the offending bike? I always hope it's a newbie that hasn't learned bike parking etiquette. Even though it seems obvious to most of us, maybe they just need a little guidance!

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  • Daniel (teknotus) Johnson July 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    I think this is more a matter of experience than anything else. Most of the staple racks in Portland have instructions on how to use them, but the wave racks generally don't. Also it is harder to lock to a wave rack. Back when I was only familiar with the staple racks I did exactly what is shown in this picture. It took seeing some good examples before I understood. The bike corral staples avoid this problem.

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  • BURR July 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Those 'wave' racks are notorious for three things:

    1. because it offers only one point of frame support per bike when you park in the manufacturer's recommended way, i.e. perpendicular to the rack, bikes can easily fall over and be damaged.

    2. I'd say at least half of the wave racks in PDX are improperly installed too close to a wall or other obstruction, so that it is impossible to properly lock your bike frame to the rack.

    3. The wave rack manufacturers routinely overestimate the number of bikes that can be locked to this style of rack by a factor of two.

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  • Dave July 1, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    "Shame on you"? Seriously?

    Uh, somebody call the wahmbulance. A minor inconvenience at its worst, and not nearly as annoying as people who lock their bikes to handrails.

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  • Daniel Ronan July 1, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Promote waterproof stickers that say "Be Courteous: stack the rack" that you could place on bicycle racks.

    Local bike stores could fund the "stickering" of the bike racks in their immediate vicinity, as advertising for their stores and as a service for bikers in that area.

    Additionally, the funding of this could be a city sponsored, (perhaps not a city run) campaign to increase and sustain community support for bicycle related infrastructure, which would in turn diminish the number of neglected bike corrals and bike racks filled with debris. Perhaps bike stores could help local business to keep bike corrals maintained for increased exposure/ good bicycle karma.

    The benefits of having this supported by the city would be to institutionalize ownership of the "bike commons" and raise awareness of common courtesy for those who may be new to bicycling or may need a friendly reminder to continue to remain courteous.

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  • lazerpenguin July 1, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    ugh, I hate it when this happens. Altho it seems im alone here when I say that I don't mind this style of rack, granted there are much better designs, but I assume these are cheap and easy to install. I would much rather have racks like the bike corrals but hey its better than having to use street signs.

    Also it would appear that this is on Vancouver Ave, in Portland, not in Vancouver, WA.

    [Thanks, corrected! -- Elly]

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  • -ben July 1, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    i'd be happy if the wave design was officially retired.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) July 1, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    i agree with Ben and others that the wave design needs to be outlawed. It really functions poorly... and in addition to that, whenever I see a new business install one it instantly hurts their credibility in my opinion.

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  • patrickz July 1, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Jonathan!
    Are you really a sulky character? I've never seen you not smiling...

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  • Patrick July 1, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    I just lift the bike up and rotate it and gently place in position. I was once caught doing this and just smiled and parked next to him. All was A-OK and he learned how to park without any preaching.

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  • Thor July 1, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Oh boo hoo. Just stick your bike on the other side and park it the way they did.
    ...You can't assume everyone is an avid cyclist like yourself, but at least they are riding a bike. There were plenty of other places to lock the bike beside a handrail - now that's rude.

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  • Pete July 1, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Daniel (#8): +1 for being the "solutions" guy and not the problems guy! :)

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  • Giant Hogweed July 1, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Um, looks like there was a spot at the far left end. And I'd walk a couple blocks to find a stop sign to lock to before using a handrail -- especially at a hospital. Talk about rude.

    While everyone's praising staple racks, I should point out that they are designed for taller people than I (5'3"), who ride taller bikes than mine (49 cm hybrid). The top bar of the staple is higher than my handlebars (flat), and if one bike is already locked to a staple, I usually cannot fit my bike onto the other side. I actually prefer wave racks for this reason, as long as they are placed far enough from a wall. When using a wave rack, I lock my front wheel and frame to the rack, then use a smaller u-lock to lock the back wheel to the frame. Who in Portland actually uses the "two attachment points" of a staple rack anyway? Most people don't even lock their wheels -- which is why bikes fall over in the wave racks.

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  • Babygorilla July 1, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Cue extreme overreaction. Seriously, stickering campaigns, instructions on how to use a bike rack, outlawing a certain bike rack design?

    A percentage of people are idiots, discourteous, etc. and always will be. No amount of "awareness" will help those folks whether its locking a bike to a rack the proper way (and using a wave rack is pretty easy - just position your crank arms correctly and you're bike won't fall over).

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  • Randy July 1, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Would love to point out that Sheldon Brown's Method of using a U-Lock resolves a lot of these problems ( though not all)
    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/lock-strategy.html

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  • Randy July 1, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Hit submit before I was finished.. Locking this way keeps your bike from falling over, secures the back tire AND the frame, plus seems to minimize on scratching the frame ( we all know this is the most important part :P ) Using a secondary cable lock through the front tire and frame of course is never a bad idea either AS A SECONDARY LOCK SETUP.

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  • are July 1, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    the bike in the photo occupies what would otherwise be two spaces. not a huge deal. I very often cannot hitch to a staple rack because of the way someone else has put their bike on it. and while the serpentine or loop or "wave" rack seems to be in disfavor among the design gurus because of this "two points" business, the fact is that if you place your bike so that it straddles the lower point of the loop (like the bike on the right in the photo), it is a simple matter to lock the rear wheel to the post in such a way that the bike will not tip over.

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  • naomi July 1, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    BURR #6 said

    "2. I'd say at least half of the wave racks in PDX are improperly installed too close to a wall or other obstruction, so that it is impossible to properly lock your bike frame to the rack."

    YES! And here I thought I was the only one who noticed this phenomenon. These wavy racks are almost always too close to the walls they're up against so you basically have to lean the bike up against an entire side (the outer side, obviously) to lock it up. Do they let just about anyone install a bike rack in this city?

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  • Ron July 1, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Howdy--

    My favorite racks are picket-fence types, with verticl slats to hold a wheel and a low stop about 20" forward too keep the bike from rolling out of the rack. The trouble is no on can figure out how to use them--you have to park rear wheel first to keep the bike from tipping over when the headset turns. It is tough to lock the frame to them, but it's easier when you park rear wheel first. Parking that way also allows others to park next to you, as you can turn the bars, allowing the bikes to stack nicely. Parked front wheel first, the bars clash. The same goes for those low-to-the-ground wheel racks, though those ones will allow a bike to tip and torque the wheel even if it is parked rear wheel first (especially skinny-tired bikes without kickstands).

    Staples and waves suffer problems common to both racks, with bikes parked too close together and frames leaned on metal. They work better for some bikes than others (my kickstand and front rack help lean the bike without frame contact, for instance), but any parking strategy on wave/staple racks falls apart when the careless owner of the craptacular wallyworld special next to you grinds a pedal into your downtube and hooks his bar-end donut holders into your shift housing. Wheel mount racks do a much better job of keeping bikes apart.

    The bike in the photo probably isn't owned by a newbie--its rider is more likely sick of finding a Huffy tipped over on his bike. While I don't endorse or support his selfish strategy, I understand his anxiety. Bikes have a tough enough life when they're getting used. It sucks to have them damaged when they're parked.
    Happy Trails,
    Ron Georg
    Corvallis

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  • Steve Bozz July 1, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    I'll be the umpteenth person to concur that the bike rack design encourages poor bike parking like this. A similar rack system I can't stand is the that looks like metal police barricades. (like this guy: http://www.cyclestore.co.uk/images/products/large/6641.jpg) or the clothes hangar style (like: http://www.wechealthunit.org/healthy-living/physical-activity/images/bike-rack.jpg).

    The designs I really dig are actually the carshare sponsored racks (basically this style but painted orange: http://mattbimages.com/images/bike-rack-bw-3120.jpg) they seem to give the most mobility in terms of finding a convenient way to lock the frame and wheel with a u-lock.

    I never noticed a staple rack with instructions!

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  • Oh Word? July 1, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    mad about the way someone parked their bike? I wish I had your problems

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  • Jean M July 1, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    I agree with Mary that this is a very rude way to park. It's hard to know if the cyclist in question really "knew" how to use a wave rack (can't stand 'em myself). I'd be tempted to lock my bike in the fashion described in #1, but I'd be afraid that my bike would be trashed by the time I got back. No easy solutions.

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  • Hart July 1, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Whenever I see a bike parked all rude like that, I always notice that somebody has curiously inserted thumb tacks into the tubes :)

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  • AdamG July 1, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    <a href="http://yehudamoon.com/index.php?date=2009-06-23"There are definitely worse problems to have wavy racks do suck.

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  • Snowflake Seven July 1, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    The wave racks are horrible. Horrible. And worse yet, half the time the are installed within 12-inches of a wall so you cannot fit a tire in anyways. The one at my pharmacy is this way and it is infuriating.

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  • Schrauf July 1, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Hart - tacks are kind of mean. If such an idiot was taking up an otherwise full rack, I would let the air out of his tires. Double points for helping him park correctly, as well as reminding him to always carry a pump.

    Oops - I mean, I would notice that somebody else had let the air out of his tires... =)

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  • Coco July 1, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    The problem with many of the "wave racks" is not necessarily the design themselves (although... the design is pretty appalling). It's that they are installed oftentimes, far too close to the wall of whatever property they front. Meaning, there is no way to lock your bike correctly to them - the bike won't fit because the tire is too large for the space between the rack, and the wall. The mini-bike wave rack outside the Movie Madness drop box on Belmont & 43rd is a classic example of this.

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  • staek July 2, 2009 at 12:28 am

    what do people think is the best type of rack design?

    staples and spirals (http://www.bikeparking.com/wellespiral/index.html) always seemed easiest to use to me

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  • Hart July 2, 2009 at 12:43 am

    I love the the Freddies on 39th makes you dodge pedestrian customers, AND maneuver around three racks of merchandise to get to the racks. I'm gonna throw those stupid flip flop displays in the damn street the next time I go there.

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  • Cameron July 2, 2009 at 7:24 am

    http://www.yehudamoon.com/index.php?date=2009-06-23

    Knew I had seen this problem before!

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  • Mak July 2, 2009 at 8:35 am

    Wow! I mean WOW! there is a lot of whining here... It's to easy for your bike to fall over? My bike might get damaged? the wave racks are to difficult to use? Rude rack users???ha!

    Come on people, maybe instead of trying so hard to make other people pay to have it your way you should actually use your common sense... whoa can't do that now can you?

    These wave racks have been around for over a decade and you guys can't seem to figure out how to use them... my god man!

    It's simple people: on the high loop you bring a .30 cent pocket sized bungee with you, strap the frame to the rack with it then lock your FRAME to the rack...

    On the low loop you take the front wheel off, set the for on the ground, bungee the frame and wheel to the rack then lock the FRAME...

    I am more disgusted by the fact that the person locked their bike to a hand rail at a hospital and has the nerve to call the other cyclist rude! In my city your bike would have been confiscated and you would have to pay to get it back for the hand rail thing...

    Geez! I could never live in PortWHAWland with all you freakin whiners!

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  • Paul Cone July 2, 2009 at 8:35 am

    Also annoying is when someone has locked their bike to a staple rack through the frame and the rear wheel. In addition to it being less secure, it makes it more difficult for the second person on the rack to lock their front wheel, because the rear part of the first bike can't be moved away from the rack a bit to make room for your handlebars.

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  • Rich Wilson July 2, 2009 at 8:50 am

    You guys have bike racks?

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  • toddistic July 2, 2009 at 8:53 am

    how is locking a rear wheel though a staple rack less secure? rear wheels almost always cost more than a front wheel.

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  • Borgbike July 2, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Definitely a worthwhile post. Hopefully the discussion will help resolve this problem.

    Question: I always referred to these racks as "ribbion" not "wave." Is wave rack the new preferred term?

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  • Borgbike July 2, 2009 at 9:53 am

    P.S. It's cool that a lot of these racks appear to be made here in Portland:
    http://huntco.com/about-us/
    Another spoke in Portland's bike industry

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  • BURR July 2, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals Bicycle Parking Guidelines says wave racks not recommended:

    "Wave style racks are not recommended. Bicyclists commonly use a
    “wave” rack as if it were a single inverted “U.” This limits the
    actual capacity of the rack to two bikes regardless of the potential or
    stated capacity. Bicycles parked perpendicular to a wave rack (as
    intended by the manufacturer) are not supported in two places and
    are more likely to fall over in the rack. The advertised capacity of a
    wave rack is usually much higher than the practical capacity."

    http://www.apbp.org/resource/resmgr/publications/bicycle_parking_guidelines.pdf

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  • El Biciclero July 2, 2009 at 10:28 am

    "I love the the Freddies on 39th ... I'm gonna throw those stupid flip flop displays in the damn street the next time I go there."

    Consider just not going there.

    Does anyone know where there is a guide to bike locking to various types of racks? I know that I was used to always using things similar to the wave/ribbon style where you position your bike perpendicular to the plane of the rack; then I had to lock to a staple rack once (with no other bikes around) and had a tough time deciding whether I should position parallel or perpendicular to the staple. Parking at an unfamiliar style of rack is not as intuitive as experienced folks might think...

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  • El Biciclero July 2, 2009 at 10:46 am

    And another thing:

    "It's simple people: on the high loop you bring a .30 cent pocket sized bungee with you, strap the frame to the rack with it then lock your FRAME to the rack...

    On the low loop you take the front wheel off, set the for on the ground, bungee the frame and wheel to the rack then lock the FRAME..."

    ...And cyclists consider the carrying of bungees and multiple locks, the partial disassembly of their vehicles, the high probability of paint or wheel damage, the need to study various locking techniques to avoid theft, etc. to be "normal" parking necessities/risks.

    Whereas a motorist stops, pushes a button to lock the doors, and is on his way with very little expectation that he will return to find his vehicle stolen, scratched, or undriveable (even though that does happen).

    Just sayin'.

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  • naomi July 2, 2009 at 11:12 am

    "Paul Cone
    July 2nd, 2009 08:35 35
    Also annoying is when someone has locked their bike to a staple rack through the frame and the rear wheel. In addition to it being less secure, it makes it more difficult for the second person on the rack to lock their front wheel, because the rear part of the first bike can't be moved away from the rack a bit to make room for your handlebars."

    What? Locking your back wheel and frame with a u-lock to a staple rack is the CORRECT way.

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  • Lamont July 2, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I don’t know how many bikes I saw parked like that at the Organic Beer Fest the other weekend, but it is rude. Assbags! Most of the bikes parked that way where piece's of crap too. How hard is it to part your bike right, yo!

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  • Lamont July 2, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I don’t know how many bikes I saw parked like that at the Organic Beer Fest the other weekend, but it is rude. Assbags! Most of the bikes parked that way where piece's of crap too. How hard is it to part your bike right, yo!

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  • VRVer July 2, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Jonathan,

    Would it be possible to get a picture tutorial on the web here to give people a guide for how to deal with different racking situations? I think I'm doing it right, but these posts make me worry.

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  • NICE RACK! July 2, 2009 at 11:43 am

    NOT! I don't like those "wave racks" either.

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  • Afro Biker July 3, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    this person probably wear cycling clothes with lots of logos...and usually the more logos there are, the bigger the a-hole.

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  • Duncan July 4, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Hey its better than the stoner who locked my bike to his on a telephone on Hawthorne last summer...

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  • KruckyBoy July 6, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Try riding in outer SE where there aren't any bike racks. The wave design will instantly become appreciated.

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