A Note to Chicago Cyclists

The last time I visited your fair city, there was quite the uproar about parking meters being removed. “Where,” the cyclists fumed, “will we park our bikes?”

As a cyclist in a city without much bike parking, and few parking meters, I have had to make do many a time with the nearest solid (and sometimes not-so-solid) object. So I present to you a gallery of inspiration for your parking-meter-less future. Good luck!

Defunct public phone

Defunct public phone. Probably more rare than parking meters!

A convenient pole

A convenient pole

A street sign. Don't tell me, you thought of this one already...

A street sign. Don't tell me, you thought of this one already...

A chainlink fence. Admittedly, not the most secure choice.

A chainlink fence. Admittedly, not the most secure choice.

A ginormous tree--glad I got the longer cable.

A ginormous tree--glad I got the longer cable.

A newspaper machine. Hey, if it's secure enough for your dog. . .

A newspaper machine. Hey, if it's secure enough for your dog. . .

A handy railing provides security for these Vandy students.

A handy railing provides security for these Vandy students.

A bike rack at last.

A bike rack at last.

No lock!

Or don't lock it at all! Not really an option in Chicago, but there are benefits to living in a city without many cyclists.

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27 thoughts on “A Note to Chicago Cyclists

  1. Funny! I admit to being overly paranoid about locking up my bikes… to the extent that I usually try to arrange it so that I can keep an eye on them from a window. This has resulted in some interesting lock-up positions.

    • Trisha says:

      I couldn’t sleep the first night I left the Batavus outside for the night, even though it was locked very securely! in addition to the usual lost-bike devastation, my parents would kill me. ;-)

    • dukiebiddle says:

      I do have a nice road bike that I’m paranoid about losing to theft. Being a road bike, when I take it out I don’t take a lock with me, so when I’m hours away from home on a really long ride and need to go to the bathroom, you should see the looks I get when I wheel it into the stall with me. I wish I was kidding.

  2. I did notice those new pay boxes when I visited. Didn’t think of the downside. Where’s that “Bike-Mayor” mayor Daley? They should have been planting bike racks in those meter holes.

    • Trisha says:

      Dot knows a lot more about this, obvs, but I think they are discussing how best to replace that lost bike parking.

    • dukiebiddle says:

      We have the same problem with the lost meters for pay boxes in my town. When they use their noggins during the planning process, they replace some of them with these dumamchickeys. Unfortunately, they are few and far between and you typically on see something like one for every 1000 parking meters removed.

      I’m really surprised that cable locks do the job in Nashville. I would have suspected that Nashville would have been a lot more crime friendly. ;)

      • Trisha says:

        Ha. We have our fair share of crime but for some reason bike theft is not that high. I have seen neighbors leave their kids’ bikes out in the front yard.

        • dukiebiddle says:

          “Ha. We have our fair share of crime…” Oh, thank goodness. I was scared I was going to have to subtract some of Nashville’s juice points. ;-)

  3. The Opoponax says:

    Hahaha! As a New Yorker, the idea of you using just a cable lock (and just around one part of the bike!) to secure your bike horrifies me in an almost visceral way. I need to get out of the city more, clearly.

    • Trisha says:

      Does it make you feel any better to know my Batavus has an O-Lock also? I worry about my bikes but anything heavier than the cable is not necessary during the day here.

  4. dottie says:

    This is great! I’ve noted all the various options. :) Although I must say, as with New Yorkers, Chicagoans cannot lock their bikes with a cable lock and expect it to be there when they return. This greatly narrows down the parking-to-various-objects options.

  5. jj says:

    same for portland. i’m amazed at the number of people i do see just using cable locks here, considering the rate at which those bikes are stolen. i kind of think the bike stores shouldn’t even sell them here.

    thankfully, though we do have the sticker producing pay machines rather than meters, in most parts of town, there’s no shortage of bike racks and bike corrals are popping up daily it seems!

    (and no, it doesn’t make me feel better to know the bat has an o-lock too. that wouldn’t do the trick here combined with a cable. maybe combined with a u-lock. or a really thick cable.)

  6. Scott says:

    What’s the deal with your saddle angle? Is it comfortable to ride around with the nose up in the air like that?

    • Trisha says:

      Sharp eyes! I do like a slight saddle angle but that’s extreme. Those first two shots were taken the same day. One of the bolts was loose and I went over a bump and the angle changed — I had to wait until I got home to fix it (the first two pics were taken the same day). The seat is usually more like it is in the picture where the bike is tied to the tree.

      • Dean Peddle says:

        Whosh….I’m glad it is broken and not your normal saddle position. I saw it last post but chose to let it go but after seeing it again I was horrified :) Just glad it’s not normal. I’ve had that happen to me also in the middle of a ride….it’s quite the adventure riding around like that.

  7. Catherine says:

    I vote for these: http://bikeracked.com/custom-decorative-bike-racks/ going up where parking meters are taken down. They’re about the same size, no?

  8. jj is right. I had a bike stolen here in Portland having it locked to a bike rack with a cable thinking it was safer here than in NYC.

    I wonder is there a plan for Chicago to start placing bike racks around the city?

  9. k says:

    Chicago is attempting to mitigate the loss of bike parking with this: http://www.chicagobikes.org/bikeparking/

    One can request a new bike rack on a particular block. (Why they didn’t just leave every 3rd parking meter with a new bike-obvious cap is beyond me…) On the bright side, I’ve heard they’re fairly prompt with installing them.

  10. k says:

    Yes, they better be quicker with those racks: our Mayor for Life has his hands full dealing with all the motorist anger – he doesn’t need the added wrath of the cyclists!

    (I find it hilarious that Daley actually thought people would be fine him with selling the city’s parking rights for the next 75 frickin’ years, and having no oversight of meter-rate increases. One can hope that in the coming years people will channel their displeasure at parking into the pleasure of cycling…)

  11. cycler says:

    I’ve locked my bike to conduit running down the side of a building. There was just enough space to slide the lock through. It probably would be pretty easy to yank the conduit off the wall, but there might be a live wire inside, which could make things interesting!

    Boston is talking about putting in a paybooth system, I wonder if they’ve thought about leaving the meters in as bike racks???

  12. dottie says:

    I attended the Mayor’s Bicycle Council meeting yesterday and a portion of the presentation was devoted to bike parking. I’ll have a full write-up later, but they said they’ve approved and sent to their contractors for installation over 700 bike racks so far this year. That’s about 50% of the requested racks – some requests have to be rejected because of ADA standards (sidewalks too narrow to accommodate bike parking and wheel chair) or bus stop zones. The city only started putting in bike racks in 1993 and there are now over 12,000 city bike racks total.

  13. Scott says:

    Dottie, was this the meeting relating to the 2015 cycling plan at city hall? I wanted to go but couldn’t get out of the office. There’s all kinds of good stuff in the plan and I wanted to show some support. (And possibly repeat my request for a rush-hour street parking ban on Milwaukee to someone who would listen).

  14. CC says:

    i’ve noticed a lot of bike rack removal notices in chicago. particularly around CTA stations that normally have 2 or 3 bikes locked up (as opposed to heavily used spots that have 10-15). someone uses them, wouldn’t it be easier to just leave them there?? it takes up so little room on a sidewalk.

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