Citizen complaint of the day: Free bike racks aren't for advertising

Ad bike in South Boston

A piqued citizen complains about whoever's slapping ads on cheap bikes and locking them to bike racks, such as this one by the Broadway T stop:

Bike advertisement bike has been locked here for 3 weeks. Remove and cite. They have done this before, and tie up bike racks for people who need them. Outrageous and ridiculous!



Free tagging: 



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What are the odds this is the same person who complains about cars parked "the wrong way" on B St.?

This isn't the "wrong way" whiner

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I believe this is the person who complained that there was grass growing in the cracks on the sidewalks on B Street. This is Southie not Disney-world!

Ads on bikes

There is a guy who is always asking for bikes on Freecycle and doesn't seem to care much about what condition they are in. Maybe he's the one behind this!

There's a service that does this

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It's a bike leasing company. You rent a bike with advertising on it, and they use the proceeds to take your bike in for servicing periodically. It's aimed at students, so they don't have to store their bike in their tiny dorm room over the winter or schlep it back home over the summer.

They advertised it all over BU's campus before that area got Hubway.

So no, the advertising isn't vandalism. It's part of the bike.

It's called

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My Bike --

Easy solution

Tag the bike with one of the "this bike will be removed on $DATE" stickers they put on apparently abandoned bikes at MBTA stations and in front of library branches and wherever, and see if the bike moves.

If it's a bike legitimately being ridden by someone, I don't see how the advertising on the back of the bike takes away their right to use the rack any more than any other commercial vehicle loses its right to park in an unmetered spot on any other road.

If it's abandoned, cut it lose and add it to the police auction of recovered/unclaimed property.

No reason to rip the ad off

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These might be in use - although there were some unridable bikes in Davis Square last year that were removed because they were being used to turn any and every sign pole into an advertisement. These were not being used by commuters.

There may be more than one "culprit" in play. I wouldn't tear an ad off a bike, though, anymore than I would rip an ad off a bus. If the bike is in use, the ad isn't my business.

"locked here for 3 weeks"

These loops are intended for short-term bike parking, such as when you're visiting a local business, or perhaps commuting on the T the rest of the way. They aren't for long-term storage.

Not disputing that

I'm not disputing that the racks aren't intended for long term storage, I'm suggesting that the complainant hasn't actually demonstrated that the bike hasn't moved in three weeks, or even three days, and that the presence of advertising isn't a valid complaint.

The advertising bicycles I

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The advertising bicycles I saw in Cambridge barely qualified as bicycles. They didn't have drivechains or brakes.

I gave the businesses listed in the ads one chance to deal with it before I reported it to the city. They didn't reply or remove the bikes. So I got in touch with the DPW, who removed them within a few days.

So turn it around. Replace

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So turn it around. Replace the ad with a new one.

  • (Advertiser) for Pedophile Priests!
  • White Only! (Advertiser)
  • Kill Jews (Advertiser's phone #)


See how long advertisers want to be associated with that.

Why parking meters needed for bikes!

Here is a perfect example why parking meters are needed for bicycles - to allow turnover of scarce, public parking places.

Also needed are updates to state law allowing for removal of non-motor vehicles as already exist for motor vehicles.

I think Amsterdam made an art sculpture out of abandoned bicycles...

How about this

As a cyclist, I'd love more parking and I'd be willing to pay for a proper facility for doing so according to the amount of space allotted.

For example, sixteen bikes can fit in a parking space, so bikes pay $0.25 an hour, and cars $4.00. Add in actual motorcycle spaces not hogged by coffee-shop cops at $0.50 and it makes things good.

Of course more vehicles = more visitors to local businesses = more parking space conversions to bike and motorcycle parking when space demands are high. Eight to sixteen vehicles per space instead of one vehicle is efficient and sensible economic policy even when all the spaces aren't taken.

And as usual

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you are blinded by your prejudices. More people drive than ride bicycles or motorcycles. So getting rid of more and more parking spaces isn't going to help anyone. And no, I'm not a car driving suburbanite. I take the T or walk.

You sort of sound like a a

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You sort of sound like a a suburbanite. A reasonable suggestion = blinded by prejudices? It's not like she suggested banning cars from the streets. One or two spaces converted wouldn't make that big of a difference.

If you have to hunt for parking ...

That means that your car is one too many.

Also, you've obviously never been to places like Davis Square, where public space to put vehicles - including bikes - was at such a premium that the city has increased the number of total vehicle (read - people coming to spend money) spaces by making sixteen spaces on scarce public property where one space was.

Sorry if you can't manage to do the math.

Paid Bike Racks

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I'd love them, if they could somehow make them a more secure spot to park outside.

"Utopian society" vs. Reality

1. Way more people drive than bike or take the T. Losing even one parking space, when parking is such a p.i.t.a. to begin with, only leads to more hunting and pecking, which leads to more traffic delays and double-parking--which directly affects cyclists. I think we have to separate "Utopian society" from reality when it comes to getting more people into greener modes of transportation--and this is coming from somebody who commutes by bike 70% of the year, by the T 20% of the year and by car 10% of the year.

2. Did we magically move Boston about 600 miles South?! It still snows and, let's be honest, the City's not going to take the time to shovel in between bars to lock up bicycles. Even many private business, who do an excellent job clearing their parking lots, could give a rat's a$$ about clearing snow out of from between bike bars. For the second year in a row, Hubway skipped town for that very reason once the first flakes started to fly (if not sooner).

3. I don't see why bike racks/bars can't just be built on unused sidewalk space rather than in the street (and that includes Hubway). With most City parking meters gone in favor of centralized ticket-dispensing machines, that leaves plenty of room to put up bike bars.

Specific vs broad

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Way more people drive than bike or take the T

Bullshit. We're talking about very specific places here, not overall trends in large geographic areas. In these very specific places, walking, bicycling and T usage are very high and may even be the majority. I know Allston is that way. I presume parts of Cambridge and Somerville are also, not to mention downtown Boston, the North End, Beacon Hill and the Back Bay, etc.

The proper way to deal with shortages of parking is to charge for it; just like any other commodity on the free market (that goes for bikes too). And people who arrive by car still need to walk.

I don't see why bike racks/bars can't just be built on unused sidewalk space rather than in the street (and that includes Hubway)

There's no such thing as unused sidewalk space in these areas. Boston has tiny sidewalks and they're already cluttered by trees, trash cans, street poles and utility boxes. Even in busy commercial districts there's sidewalks with barely enough room for two people to walk abreast. Sometimes even less.

Y'know, I expect your typical driver to suffer from bike/ped blindness -- the inability to count people not in a car. But you ought to know better.

Incorrect re: driving vs. T'ing numbers

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This study from Access Boston says that 3/4 of all jobs in the city are located in either the downtown, Back Bay or Longwood Medical Area neighborhoods (~350K), and that there are about 50K parking spaces (public and off-street) in those same neighborhoods. That means each car would have to be transporting about 7 workers. I don't think so (I doubt the average is even close to 1.5).

Compare that to the daily T ridership last year, about 1.3M, with almost half of those trips located in whole or part in Boston proper. That seems to jibe well with a 2006 US Census study that says that just under one-third of people working in Boston proper take the T to work (~200K).

Looks like wrt Boston commuters, T riders outnumber drivers about 4-1.


Also, your characterization of Hubway seems slanted - in fact, there's been talk about a possible extension of the season, perhaps to year-round - after only it's second year in operation!

And oh looky - a Patch article from just yesterday claiming that 13% of Hubway riders saying they're using it now instead of a car!

How these programs work.....

1. Citizen calls in about an abandoned bike.

2. City sends out person to check bike, write out a tag with date/time advising owner that bike will be removed in 24/48 hours if bike is not moved from spot.

3. City official goes out in 24/48 hours and removes bike if said bike is still there with tag on.

4. Bike is inventoried, and kept until owner comes in with proof of ownership and can get their bike back.

5. After 2/4/6 months, bikes are auctioned.

Except that . . .

A. Bike parking shouldn't be scarce to begin with--how hard is it really to bolt down some metal and call it a bike rack? It's not like there aren't truckloads of it going to the scrap yards in Everett 24/7.

B. You can pretty much make "bike parking" out of any pole at least six feet high, not to mention a slender tree, so why pay for something you can get for free?

Parking Space

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maybe he shoveled out the bike rack and feels entitled to leave his ad there.