Citizen complaint of the day: How dare the city turn a parking space into a bike rack

Bike rack

An irate citizen complains about this new bike rack on Worcester Square in the South End:

In a city where parking spaces are so limited that they sell for $560,000 how can you justify turning a resident parking spot into a bike rack?

UPDATE: City marks the case closed, notes: "Bike rack installed by request of residents and worcester square neighborhood association."



Free tagging: 


Haha... as soon as I saw the

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Haha... as soon as I saw the words "bike" and "parking" in the same headline, I knew I had a lot of catching-up to do.

It never ceases to amaze me how bike issues rile up this audience.

Seriously! Entitled cyclists

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Seriously! Entitled cyclists feeling victimized is Uhub's bread and butter.
'less than pleasing aesthetics of newly installed bike rack in swanky South End neighborhood draws bitter outrage from bike community' Oh the horrors!! Meanwhile, the grownups of the city carry on with their Monday and deal with real issues.

Nearly 100 comments (at this

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Nearly 100 comments (at this point), mostly all pro-cyclists. I'm not saying anything derogatory about cyclists, and as a matter of fact, I am a fan of the 2-wheeled pedestrian.

All I'm saying is that this issue is usually a point of contention. But thank you for reinforcing my point.



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Well Done!


That is

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Two parking spaces being used by two bikes. Two passenger cars on average can carry 10 individuals.

Twice, actually

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While we were toodling down the road we actually saw another car prang a bicyclist, and all piled out to check on the rider, then packed back into the car after determining that he was okay. I should probably have "clown car" on my resume...

I once was part of a group of

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I once was part of a group of 9 or 10 riding in a Focus hatchback. I was one of the people in the trunk for this endeavor. So, I mean, no judgies.


That's nothing.

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I once filled a Dodge Caravan with 17 Germans and drove from Burlington to Alewife Station.

Sure, cars CAN carry 5 individuals...

...but that parking space can accommodate at least 5 bikes (not sure the actual capacity). Also, that's one parking space, not 2 unless they're SmartCar spaces, which can hold 2 people). Also, on-street spaces are often not utilized efficiently if they're not metered/marked off, since cars like to leave a lot of room between themselves and the car in front of them/behind them; this takes up exactly 1 parking space where a car probably takes up 1.1 to 1.3 on-street parking spaces.



I agree here

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Bike racks can easily be placed on sidewalks, however a car can not. Also that has to be one of the most poorly designed bike racks ever!

not to mention

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that the rack looks permanent. So in the winter it will just be an empty waste of space?


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In the winter, that will be where they dump all the snow so the street is clear.

Actually, they have one of

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Actually, they have one of these at Harvard and Brighton Ave in Allston, and they take it out during the winter months and re-install in come summer.


Doesn't look permanent to me

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I hope some Brazilian with a pickup truck comes by, scoops it up and brings it to a junkyard for scrap. He'd probably get ten bucks for it, maybe more if there is a couple of bikes still attached.

You clearly don't bike

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Locking to racks on sidewalks results in:

  • Trash being left in your basket or shoved into parts of your bike
  • your bike being knocked over by pedestrians and baby strollers
  • dogs peeing on your bike
  • your bike being backed into by oblivious drivers
  • putting more obstacles on boston's historically tight sidewalks, causing problems for handicapped people, children, and people carrying bags and other things

Also, you can fit one car in one space that probably only transported one person. This bike rack can fit at least ten bicycles, at the very least. That's a 1000% increase in parking efficiency.


but wait

how does this prevent dog pee? or oblivious drivers? or trash being left in your basket?

(i am not actually against this rack, i just find this argument curious)



It doesn't prevent dogs, but I find that people leave trash in things they walk by, and don't generally go out of their way even a few steps to trash something, unless they're REALLY intent on it.

Drivers tend to run into things on the sidewalk when they overshoot parallel parking jobs - yes, they can still back into another parking space, but this rack has those yellow barriers that help with parallel parking.

Where do you park your bike? In Porter Station?

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I parked my bike for years around cambridge/boston, and never had any of that happen, with the possible sole exception of dog pee (whatchu gonna do?). Jeez man, pick your parking spots better. If you block paths, or park like an a-hole, of course your bike will get trashed.

Porter station, among other places.

Other places including the North End where I work, Downtown Boston (generally the least troublesome place to park), the South End, Charlestown and Allston.

Allston is obviously the worst, but the North end isn't pleasant either.

Maybe because...

By on is public property and the City is under no obligation to provide free parking for private automobiles. There is no parking problem in Boston, there are simply too many cars in some areas (many that sit for days to weeks in the same spot on the street). Seriously though, I live a few blocks away from this and there really isn't much of a shortage of residential parking in that neighborhood. When I have use of a car, I never have a problem finding a place to park it.



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Just common scenes and rational among bikers....

property owners usually

property owners usually object to people locking bikes to their fences, so "bike parking" means "find a street sign or parking meter somewhere in the vicinity," which is less than ideal.


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when did it become ok, in some circles, to attach bikes to private property?


if someone were to chain a bike to my fence, in a manner where it was not flopped on the sidewalk, and they actually used it regularly, i would not have an issue with it.

Maybe their residence is too small to store it and they do not have a fence on their building.

why can't a neighbor help a neighbor??

No reason, why a neighbor

No reason, why a neighbor can't choose to help a neighbor. But not everyone wants to, and if you start letting considerate people chain their bikes to your fence, it probably won't be long until you get the bike sprawled all over the sidewalk for days at a time.

not sure about this specific

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not sure about this specific area, but often there is a shortage in many neighborhoods - try finding a space on a sign (where it's legal to chain a bike) or rack on newbury street - it's almost as difficult as finding a street parking space.

central square in cambridge is also difficult.

Back Bay is a particular

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Back Bay is a particular problem for bike parking, because many streets don't have single-space parking meters, and most signs are on street lamps instead of narrow signposts.

Bike parking in Central Square is a breeze.

In many places, yes, there is

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In many places, yes, there is a shortage of bike parking. I don't know this street in particular, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were a shortage. I've had times where I've had to walk my bike a few blocks before I could find a bike rack or sign post to lock my bike to.


Perhaps not there that day

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but the other day on Center Street in JP there was a shortage of safe, legal, non-destructive places to lock a bike (I try to avoid trees). But think about what that meant? Each bike represents a car that was not on the street and not using a parking space. Therefore the bikes represented a decrease in the competition for parking spaces. That helped anyone who needed to park their car in the area.

So for the South End bike rack if one bike is locked on the bike rack that represents one car not needing to park in the South End. For each bike locked there that most likely represents a car not competing for parking space.



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"There is no parking problem

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"There is no parking problem in Boston, there are simply too many cars in some areas"

That's the definition of a parking problem, hoss.

Only if you assume that the

Only if you assume that the primary purpose of a city is to provide public parking for privately-owned vehicles.

Whenever there's a suggestion that some social service might be expanded (or just continued), there's an inevitable chorus of "Why don't those lazy pieces of shit get off their asses and get a job so I don't have to subsidize their lifestyle"?

So... why don't those lazy car owners get off their asses and buy a private parking space, so I don't have to subsidize their lifestyle?

No? The primary purpose of a

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No? The primary purpose of a city is to provide services for residents. Parking happens to be one of those services, being as there's not enough space for residents to construct private garages. So if there's not enough space for residents to park their cars, that's what we call a "parking problem", in layman's terms.

Reading comprehension PHAIL

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UPDATE: City marks the case closed, notes: "Bike rack installed by request of residents and worcester square neighborhood association."

I see by the time stamp on your comment, Mr. Trolly Anonster, that you made it after adam had posted this update. So apparently you either:

1) believe car-owning locals are more important than bike owning locals, or
2) are unable to reason at a fifth grade level, or
3) have just had internet installed under your bridge.

Other way around

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My original post didn't mention the city closing the case because when I posted, I don't think it had. I added that note after I saw anon's comment. Sorry for any confusion; I probably should've time stamped my update (like I tend to do on crime posts).

Grouchy much? Bike parking is

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Grouchy much? Bike parking is important, but to say that there isn't a car parking shortage in this city is ridiculous.

How is there a parking

How is there a parking shortage in Boston? I can't remember a single time in the last 35 years when I drove into Boston and couldn't find a parking place. There's no shortage of parking spaces, there's just a surplus of cheap bastards who don't want to pay and think the city owes them a free (or cheap, metered) parking space.


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Or, you're just an a**hole. Can you at least see why he'd want a space, rather than just attacking him? It is you, perhaps, who cannot reason above a 5th grade level.

Wanting is fine

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Demanding public property and whining about how you are special for owning a car and get special rights to that property are not.

So what? Why should the city

The primary purpose of a city is to provide services for residents.

So what? Why should the city provide parking spaces but not oil changes or free tire rotation?

Why is it a "parking problem" and not a "too many cars" problem?

What determines whether any given "service" should be provided by the city instead of private individuals?

If you see an empty lot filled with garbage, do you assume that the city is not providing enough free dumpsters or that some cheap shithead doesn't want to pay to have his refuse removed?

If you see someone panhandling in the streets, do you assume that the city isn't giving away enough free money, or that the individual is a freeloading mooch?

If unemployment goes up, do you assume that the city isn't giving enough people jobs, or that the unemployed are lazy?

What is so special about parking spaces that it is the city's obligation to provide them?

Could you have packed any

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Could you have packed any more false equivalencies into your post? When streets cease to be municipal property, you'll have a point.

Municipal property

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What makes you think that "free parking" is the proper use of municipal property?

The city has the power to ban all parking on city streets if it so chooses to do so. That's the basis for regulation of the public rights-of-way, which are primarily intended for the movement of people and goods.

The city may choose to exercise that power instead to allow different uses of excess space in the right-of-way. That includes parking of cars. But it also includes just about anything else that may occupy space, including bicycle racks.

In terms of providing public services for the residents, parking ranks rather low. I would place fire, police, and medical emergency services much higher. Then there is providing the public realm: making it possible to walk and gather in the city, the fundamental reason for its existence. Then there's schools and neighborhood services. In terms of transportation, the city is much better served by promoting walking and public transit.

The subsidization of parking spaces for people who are rich enough to own a car and live in the South End is not a priority.

When streets cease to be

When streets cease to be municipal property, you'll have a point.

Who cares if it's municipal property? Why is the right to park a car on municipal property sacred?

Why can't I dump my trash on municipal property?

Why can't I pull my sofa out onto municipal property to cool down in the summer?

Why can't I store my furniture and appliances on municipal property? Why only my car?

What if I have a dog

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And I don't have a yard. Why can't I just fence off a piece of the local park for the private use of my dog and myself? Or, better yet, I need a place for my goat and I don't own a yard, SO I PUT MY GOAT IN THE PARK?

See where this goes - cars are NOT sacred.

Fixed that for you

No? The primary purpose of a city is to provide services for residents. Parking happens to be one of those services, being as there's not enough space for residents to construct private garages. So if there's not enough space for residents to park their bicycles, that's what we call a "parking problem", in layman's terms.

No? The primary purpose of a

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No? The primary purpose of a city is to provide services for residents. Parking happens to be one of those services

But what priority should it get? There's not a lot of public space in this city, and there are other uses for it besides storing cars.

Sources please

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Sources please

Ummm No

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in 2011 I worked for, an inventory of every off street lot and garage in the city, through this time i inventoried 275 lots and garages in my work area, this area was a very small portion of boston (north end to longwood), when i asked why so many of these lots were empty during peak tourist season and during business hours I found out that there are more parking spaces in boston than cars at any given time if you include lots and garages (not icluding those specifically for patrons of an establishment to park). there is more than enough parking, we have an excess of cheap assholes too lazy to walk a few blocks and pay for parking


The Boston parking "freeze"

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In the mid-70s Boston adopted a parking "freeze" policy in order to comply with the Clean Air Act. The construction of massive, taxpayer-subsidized interstate highways into the city was expected to lead to a influx of cars and attendant pollution. The goal of the "freeze" was to prevent Boston from becoming filled with smog (for example, the way Beijing is today).

Yes, there is a "cap" of about 35,000 parking spaces. However, it only applies to commercial parking garages which rent spaces by the hour or day.

Residential parking provision is not affected by this regulation (and neither is business-specific parking). So it does not apply to this discussion at all.

Yes. Tons.

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4,660 places to park within a five minute walk of Worcester Sq that I can think of off the top of my head:

DOB Garage at Harrison Ave and E. Brookline St: 250 spaces
710 Albany St garage: 1,000 spaces
610 Albany St garage: 1,461 spaces
35 Northampton St garage: 539 spaces
700 Harrison Ave : 160 spaces
Crosstown Center Garage: 1,250 spaces.

Well, if you complain about

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Well, if you complain about people attaching bikes to your fences what do you think is going to happen?

They can't block most sidewalks with racks because the sidewalks also need to be wide enough for wheelchair access.

Not far enough...

Not far enough. We should close downtown, south end, north end, back bay, fort point and the waterfront to vehicular traffic (except electric delivery vehicles).

With one small piece of legislation Boston would become the healthiest, safest, least polluted, most progressive city in the country.

Maybe we're not

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shooting to become the healthiest and safest city. My city needs to be somewhat gritty and dirty. Why don't you try Portland or Santa Cruz?

Better models

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Still gritty, but they manage to get a lot of people into and out of their cities each day on bikes with cowpath street plans.

Santa Cruz? Seriously?


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no thanks!

Really now?

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And if I happen to live there - how am I supposed to get to my home if say I work in the burbs without transit, or if I go shopping or if I want to go out of town for the weekend? Do you suggest I park in Charlestown? Let's say I don't even have a car - but use zip car - should I take the T to Brookline to pick up my vehicle and then say I need to get something back to my house - how do I accomplish that? And do YOU want to sit next to me after I finish walking 18 holes of golf on a 90 degree day on the T? The T is gross enough without that.

Nice thought - completely impractical. Lemme guess - you live in Cambridge and voted for Markey and Warren? Bet I got at least 2 out of 3 on that one.

Be helpful.

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Maybe instead of trashing the idea you can think up some hybrid ideas that would make it work. Like congestion charges within the city that pay for better T service, or eliminating the current taxi system for instead a public taxi system of smaller, electric vehicles which are also allowed to use the areas being discussed for non-driving.

There are thousands and thousands of great ideas to bounce around put forward by transportation and urban planning experts who know more than all of us. One can take those ideas, combine and configure them to make a suitable solution for any city out there. But just giving up and keeping with the status quo, that does not work, is not helpful.

I'd be happy to Kat

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But I'm responding to an absurd and irrelevant comment. While we can all do more to protect the environment with electrics and hybrids, we really don't have much of a traffic or parking problem in downtown Boston - I've lived here for 20 years and it is EXCEEDINGLY rare that I can't get from here to there anywhere downtown at any time including rush hour in 10-20 minutes (and I define that as any two points basically east of Mass Ave as long as you don't hit water plus a little bit of space from Fort Point channel to Mass Ave). As for parking - it's definitely worse than 20 years ago - but with patience I've never heard of me, my family or my neighbors simply not finding a parking space - although it may not be within a block of my house. From an environmental standpoint which is not relevant to this thread - Jake may have a point - from a traffic standpoint he doesn't have a leg to hobble on.

Residents don't pay $500,000+

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Residents don't pay $500,000+ for street parking in the south end, they pay nothing, so the irate citizen is wrong. If leaches that want to have EBT parking (street parking) subsidized by the government, they cant complain if other forms of transportation get some of that parking too, like bikes, wider sidewalks, and bus stops. Menino is a very car-centric mayor, this is small potatoes, hopefully the next mayor will really start making Boston more walkable (instead of putting billboards to make narrow sidewalks even narrower) and push for expanded, not limiting, public transportation the way Curatone in Somerville has (menino helped kill the E line restoration while Curatone not only is getting the green line extension, but another spur to Union). A tale of two mayors.

Exactly, the person who paid

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Exactly, the person who paid ~1/2 million dollars did not do so because he or she is unable to find parking due to a parking shortage.

There is no parking shortage

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There is no parking shortage in Back Bay. People are paying for the privilege of having a space in close proximity to their property. If a person is willing to walk a block or two, there are multiple garages with PLENTY of vacancies.

Slow your Roll on Somerville

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slow your roll on Curtatone. The current edition of the Weekly Dig has a well-researched investigative piece on problems in Somerville governance. you should check it out.

Please tell me

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where their are metered bike rakes on city property!

So you are saying there was a

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So you are saying there was a meter there for car parking before it was made into a bike rack? Or are you just spazzing out with unrelated rants.

It sounds like folks in that

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It sounds like folks in that area actually wanted the bike racks.

status: Closed. Case Noted. Bike rack installed by request of residents and worcester square neighborhood association.

In general, a bike rack is

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In general, a bike rack is considered an improvement, yes. But if the city took the time to find a good spot for it, I'm sure that on most Boston streets there's some place where car parking isn't allowed (for whatever reason) where it would be safe to put a bike rack. You know, those not-quite-a-spot areas between driveways? Places were car parking would make the road too narrow but parallel parking of bikes would be fine?

Put in more bike racks, yes. But do it smart so the city's non-cyclists don't unite against the idea.

well, that didn't take long. . .

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OK folks, here's the story. . .

last Fall those of us who use our bikes as our everyday transport (we don't own cars) had been repeatedly reported by local busybodies for locking our bikes to the fence around the public park area in the middle of the street. We kept getting these warnings on our bikes. We also had nastygrams left on our bikes informing us that locking them to the fence was "an eyesore". So, in response we filed a request with the City for a bike rack. We can't really put our bikes in our already-small apartments. Some people have kids and have four or five bikes to secure.

On relatively short order, the City got back to us and had our neighborhood rep attend our neighborhood association meeting. Options were presented, and we agreed that the best thing to do was to have the street rack installed as a temporary solution until the necessary approvals were gained to allow for the installation of black "lollypop" racks on the sidewalk in an area where the sidewalk was wide enough. You see, the street rack requires no approval other than the City's while the sidewalk racks require Landmark Commission approval.

There were many discussions about the racks and the best places to put them. Reps from the City and from Boston Bikes came out and took pictures/talked with residents. . . finally after 6 1/2 months the bike rack went in last week. It takes a single public parking space and sits in between a fire hydrant and a wheelchair ramp. The working plan is to remove the street rack once the approvals come through for the black sidewalk racks (like the ones you see all over the city). If we don't get those approvals then the street rack will be our permanent solution. The rack was put in with the explicit understanding that those of us that use the rack (at least those of us that attend the neighborhood meetings) are responsible for shoveling it out in the winter.

Those are the facts. The rack options were vetted in more than a couple public neighborhood meetings over more than six months.

A couple of personal comments:
1) in response to the "you're stealing my parking space": As a resident of that street for almost 10 years, I can confidently say that it's not that hard to find a spot within a block or two any time of day or night. Also, free parking is absolutely a privilege not a right.

2) in response to the "it's an eyesore": it's certainly no more an eyesore than the whole street being clogged with parked cars. our apartments aren't garages any more than theirs are, so until they start parking their cars in their apartments I'm not going to be bothered about parking my bike on the street. We don't have cars so what's wrong with having a single spot for us?

Man, post-deadline NIMBYs are the worst kind of NIMBYs.

I Endorse What this Poster Explained

What he explained is reasonable and fair to all parties.

The suggestion is of putting racks on sidewalks is viewed at an idea by drivers and also given derision (currently voted up +20 above) as common trashed, knocked around, run over by cars, dog-peed, and finally ended with no space.

However, this poster posted the thought process and a fair place that is win-win. Unless you assume cars will literally go 3ft over the curb, strollers go out of the way, and residents purposefully put trash at the pictured spot. The space is a reasonable point, but negated at there is one part is the actually spacious enough. The dog pee is a plausible point too, I hope it is exaggerated, as I parked my bike at sidewalk racks and parking meters plenty of time.

That said, I prefer to see a way that pleases the most as possible. And this poster showed it. Drivers can still keep their one parking spot, cyclist can still have a good spot to park, and pedestrians still have their space as the picture shows that part of the sidewalk is ample.

The real stupidity is the bureaucracy. That there's a perfect good spot that sacrifice nothing for any party (unless one really believes that spot would lead to the craigglesnotloggedin's post above - and I doubt that). But the Landmark Commission apparently still can't approve the idea. It seems it took 6.5 months for the interim solution.

I'm good with all of this except the following

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Thanks for posting this info. There's always going to be push-back when things change because we all have a psychological bias against change as being "wrong" because our brains refuse to admit that we weren't perfect before when the change hadn't occurred yet. We always keep a perception that "now" is perfect...thus change is "wrong" since it changes our perception of what "perfect" is. (This is understandable too since if "now" isn't perfect then why haven't we acted to fix "now" yet? Maybe it *is* perfect...ah, much better again.)

But I do disagree with the following:

The working plan is to remove the street rack once the approvals come through for the black sidewalk racks (like the ones you see all over the city). If we don't get those approvals then the street rack will be our permanent solution.

Even if you get the new racks, leave the street ones. By the time you finally get approval and installation of the new racks, people will have adjusted to accepting the then old racks in their current place. You'll still be better off without a car between a fire hydrant and a wheelchair ramp. And worse case scenario? You have too much bike parking...and I don't even know what "too much" and "bike parking" really have to do with one another.

Fullest explanation winner

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On behalf of the Committee of the Partial, I think you have won the Fullest Explanation of the Issue at Hand for 2013 (as well as 2012 retroactively).
Seriously, thanks for taking the time to explain the process of how this handled. I would never have thought it would be so complicated. Now I know something more about how challenging it can be to change something in a Boston neighborhood, particularly one with historical status.

stop & think.. and use Google Maps

(written by a driver/ Non-biker)

First off, this is not the Dominoes Communism theory, if one spot turns into a bike rack, it does not follow that we will have to stockpile weapons to preserve all of our parking spots.

Secondly, look at the map, this a somewhat quiet street, that was already resident parking. If it had been general parking i would have been annoyed since it is tough going to see friends there or go anywhere in the south end (dinner, bars, you know being a customer and helping the economy etc). But it is in an area cutoff for the residents with a fair amount of parking.

Now, that being said, they could have put something in that island or on the REALLY wide parts of the sidewalk across from the island where the islands begin.

There were better ways of doing this, but it is not worth the uproar in this thread.

the rub here. . .

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all non-street options need to be vetted by the Landmarks Commission. Also, a couple of us *do* agree that the best option would be to take a 15-foot stretch of the fence out and make it an inset to allow for a bike rack off the street. I can't even imagine the uproar that a cause if we were getting hassled for simply locking our bikes on the fence in the first place.

A rack at the end of the park isn't viable because there are two big steel pylons driven into the ground on each end to protect the park from reckless drivers. And trust me, some folks fly down the street when they use the block as a cut-through to avoid Mass Ave between Washington and Harrison.

what i meant

was across from the beginning of the island (on the normal sidewalk, not on the island). Just looking at Street View it seems much wider than a normal sidewalk.

I personally would not want to see the island compromised to hurt the green space or have the fence removed as it fits with the neighborhood style. But it seems like with some creativity the island was an option.

i was writing my post while you were finishing yours, so i saw it after I was done. It makes perfect sense, explains a lot of my other questions (why is that rack so inefficient, etc), and if you guys are not taking away the non-resident spots visitors and customers of local businesses use then i have no complaint.


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We're really hoping for the lollypop racks along the curb where the sidewalk widens (and no one walks). Let's hope the Landmark Commission agrees--they meet this week, I think. Nicole Freedman (Director of Boston Bikes and all-around awesome person) told me that they've never approved a sidewalk rack on a resident street. . . I'm crossing my fingers that the streak ends here.

. . . and yeah, I feel like this is a situation where we tried to keep everyone as happy as possible. Haters gonna hate, but, if we could take this kind of attitude to the bike infrastructure side of things, I'd hope we could convince folks that ride bikers have as much right to use the street as drivers and, as long as we have an adequate, safe, and legal place to ride, we're largely ok ceding the majority road to cars.

The pylons /fence at the end of the square

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Just wanted to add that even if you could get historical approval (and even less likely neighborhood approval) to put a rack at either end of the park it would be a very risky choice. I've th e 20 years I've been on the square someone crashes a car into one end of the fence or another at least every other year. Last year the car ended up vertical on the pylons. I can't imagine a bike rack would put up much of a fight against that...

The real issue here

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The real issue here is that they put in a bike rack on the street when it could have been on a sidewalk. But of course, the neighbors would never want their precious sidewalk ruined by a bike rack...

Why should it be on a sidewalk?

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Sidewalk space is limited and precious in this city. Most sidewalks are very narrow. This one looks only a little bit wider than normal, and "normal" here is still too small.

Why do walkers have to take on the burden of being blocked by all this infrastructure? We already have to contend with tiny sidewalks blocked by endless utility poles, sign poles, trash bins, traffic control boxes, and trees. On most of the streets around me, I can't even walk side-by-side with another person if I stay on the sidewalks.

South End streets are very wide, and there's plenty of room in the PUBLIC right-of-way for bike racks, in a way that does not clutter up the limited sidewalk space that we have on the side streets.

Motorists are so selfish and entitled that they whine about even ONE measly parking space. If that's how you feel, do yourself (and us) a favor, go move to the suburbs. In the city, walking comes first.

Wait, are you talking about the picture from Neuroboy?

When you said "this one looks a only a little wider than normal", are you talking about the picture link of Neuroboy? Or just general policy

If so, I must disagree. That part looks plenty wide enough to make everyone happy. Walkers would not be contending for space right there. Everyone can happy in this scenario. Plenty of parking for cyclist, motorist can keep that one parking spot (if there wasn't any space on sidewalks, the first place that should be compromised is the singular parking spot), and walkers still have enough space to not be inconvenienced at all.

To me, the real problem is the Landmark Commission. Boston itself took 6.5 months to take a spot. How much time does the Landmark Commission need?


Yes, that spot

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And no, there isn't that much room. For whatever reason, the trees there are installed in a staggered pattern and take up a good deal of space in the middle of the sidewalk.

Going further, I highly discourage the shrinkage of sidewalk space because we have had a terrible habit of doing so over the years. 10 feet of unobstructed width should be regarded as an uncompromising minimum. The aim ought to be that two strolling couples are able to pass each other without doing the awkward sidewalk-passing-jig.

The motorway in this section of road is four car-lanes wide. Think about that. Four cars can comfortably drive side-by-side here if need be. But not four people on the sidewalk. That's perverse.

Looks like more than 10 feet to me or close enough

I'm Looking at neuroboy's picture again (and checking now Google Maps directly), it still looks big enough. The picture indicates the suggested place in large amount of sidewalk in front of the stairs, not down in to the staggered trees. Looks to me enough space to put a bike rack there and still hold 4 people side by side (or pretty close). I would imagine there is a little discomfort for passengers-side people getting out of cars, but the smallest sacrifice for the most benefit.

If not, I still rather go for this compromise (can't be less than 3 passing pedestrians) because I think all parties feel happier (including the pedestrian walking by). That corner says everybody can win, I'm not going to vote for taking the parking spot because of fear the city can't handle sidewalk management, I rather vote for what I think pleases the most people. Which I think from neuroboy's story, it sounded like they did a great job.

Also I think your word of perverse is a bit strong. If you think it is unoptimal, I get that, even though I think Neuroboy is taking the most optimal path rather than yours. Saying perverse rather than unoptimal give more of my sense you're the mirror end of the spectrum of Markk (with exception you pull your research and articulate far better, I mean more along the line of unnecessarily against cars as Markk unnecessarily against bikes).

Street users, sidewalk space, etc

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Maybe we're looking at different spots. But if you want to talk about what pleases most people...

The 3 census tracts which contain Worcester Street have a car-free population rate of about 46% on average. Almost the entire remaining population is listed with access to 1 car.

Now remember that with these particular survey results, if a family of four has a single car, that's four people listed with 1-car. So the number of vehicles owned by people in those tracts is actually numerically much less than half of the combined population.

This makes sense, since geometrically, there simply isn't enough space on the street to park as many cars as there are people, nor even half that. That's a fact of life in urban areas. The cars you do see only represent a fraction of the households.

So I would say it's easily quite possible that this "temporary" bike rack is what pleases the most people.

In the meantime, I went further than "non-optimal" because this is a residential street, yet it has the width of a highway. That's a general flaw with South End streets which were laid out in the hypertrophic 19th century style, for whatever reason. I think that's a perverse way to build streets in a neighborhood, but we're stuck with it. The least we can do with such a street is ensure that the sidewalks are ample. My rule of thumb is two couples strolling past each other. Others would go further, and ask for you to imagine children playing on the sidewalk and such. I think that's good too, where it can be managed.

I'm happy for neuroboy and the others that they were able to work out an arrangement through the city and neighborhood coordinators. I think they will work things out satisfactorily. I was just responding to the knee-jerk reaction that bike parking should be loaded onto the sidewalk. That's not fair to people using the sidewalk, and there's no reason that walkers (and wheelchair users) should always have to undertake the burden of dealing with arbitrary obstacles because of whining from a vocal minority of motorists.

I don't think that using up a single parking space for a bike rack is unfair. Not any more than a fire hydrant is unfair. Or a handicap parking space. Or a loading zone. Or a bus stop. Or any of the other possible uses for street space. I think that all the complaining and making of a big hundred-comment thread whining about a single parking space is rather unreasonable. I think it really demonstrates the entitlement complex of motorists that even the loss of ONE parking space - that the neighborhood even came to an agreement about - brings out this amount of craziness.

100+ Comments

I'm glad you're cool with Neuroboy's conclusion and neighborhood arrangement. I think that's what matters in this entire thread, no matter of the rest talked here.

Just one thing I find contentious. The absurdity of this thread trigger another 100+ thread commentary, I think most are bike-positive.

as a suggestion

If the city put elevated bike racks (assume 3-4 ft above ground) on telephone poles, so that you could lock a bike and be out of the way of dog pee and careless drivers, would you find it an eye sore? or a reasonable compromise to all of the whining?

You should

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move to Southie, fewer bike racks and way more parking spaces! Good luck!

The problem in Southie

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Is every Yup owns a vehicle, but many don't use it during the week. So they sit on the street without moving except for street cleaning day. It is worse in he winter but you can go blocks and see the same cars covered in snow that obviously haven't been moved.
Get rid of your cars and get bikes. Just don't be a dickwad and lock it to a fence that doesn't belong to you.

I'm glad to hear an

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I'm glad to hear an explanation as to why they didn't install sidewalk racks. I'm gladder still that sidewalk racks are the hoped-for permanent solution. Thank you Neuroboy.

I will say that while bikes in good repair are no more an eyesore than cars in good repair, that street rack IS an eyesore.

...and to the person who said car owners were looking for "free" parking, do keep in mind that car owners have to comply with requirements like registering their vehicles and registering for neighborhood parking and paying excise tax to the city and moving their car on street cleaning days.

The bike rack seems to be put

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The bike rack seems to be put in place for residents in the area with bikes. Isn't one of the benefits of a bike that it's portable and can be carried?

If you're home, why not bring your bike inside and store it inside your unit. It won't get stolen, peed on, vandalized, corroded, etc. It also won't create an eye sore for everyone and block the sidewalks.

It's not like people with cars have that option (unless they own a space).

In order to comply with MGL 2953...

I propose all eyesores be removed from the streets. No more bikes or cars -- you either put them inside (be it a closet for a bike or garage for a car) or you don't own one. Behold, the power of "eyesore" legislation!

I keep my bike inside

but it's not easy for everybody to do that. Suppose you live on the third floor? How easy is it to carry a bike up three flights of narrow, winding staircase? How easy is it to fit the bike in a small apartment and still have room for other things? The size and weight of a bicycle make them useful for short to medium distance personal transit. It doesn't mean that cyclists renounce our rights to public amenities.

i understand your point

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Yep. The rack is definitely intended for residents. It's the reason we requested and lobbied to have it put in the center of the block rather at the end near Washington or Harrison.

However--and I understand that you are just throwing out ideas--just because a family *could* theoretically squeeze four bikes into their living room doesn't mean I'd ever *ask* a family to put four bikes in their living room. That would be kind of inconsiderate, no? Part of living in a city is understanding that you're literally living on top of people. If folks can't accommodate the slightest inconveniences for their fellow city-dweller (for example, 1/50 of the parking on the block) I'd suggest a nice house in Newton with it's own garage and a property line that allows for moderate distance from its nearest neighbors.

This is as reasonable solution as could be hoped given the understanding that you can't please all the people all the time. Living in a city has many benefits, but, unless you're unreasonably rich, loads of personal space and having your way 100% of the time are not things that living in a city usually affords you. Being reasonable and being capable of compromise is the only way one can be happy living in a place where the population density is almost 13,000/sqmi.

Even if--for the sake of argument--everyone put their bikes in their small apartments and the bike rack was just for visitors, what's one space compared to more than two dozen visitor (i.e. non-resident) parking spots within a one-block radius?

This in-street rack doesn't

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This in-street rack doesn't bother me as much as most, because it displaces a resident parking space.

Most racks take away a metered space. In most close-in neighborhoods, the only option for nonresidents is paying to park for 2 hours at a meter, and there's a shortage of metered spaces. Meanwhile, residents, get blocks and blocks of free (or very cheap) time-unlimited parking.

And even before these racks went in, I've never had trouble finding a bike parking space.

So it bothers me when a metered spot is taken away to add a rack.

And I say this as someone who bikes and takes the T for most of my transportation. In the past month, I've biked almost every day, and haven't driven at all.

Think like a merchant

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Take away a metered space and provide parking for as many as sixteen people?

Sounds like a bargain - just like you get in Davis Square. Full racks, full shops, happy business people, and more people accomodated than solo drivers.

Greatest good? Yup.

again look at an aerial map

people park on both sides of the island, there are lots of spots on that section of the street.. why can't one, temporarily until the city rules on a sidewalk location, be used for a few peoples' bikes??

i am a driver, and this concept is not hard for me.

this is not domino theory, we are all not about to lose our spots.

This is another example of

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This is another example of the 1% sticking it to the 99%. And I don't mean the wealthy 1% either. Rule by any 1% is no way to run a country or a city.

Because you have to be a poor person

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To own a Mercedes or BMW and live in this neighborhood.

Rich people spend <1,000 on their transportation choices, poor people spend $$$$ on cars?

The logic!

Pull Up to the Bumper Baby. Drive It In Between!

How can NOBODY yet give tribute to Disco Diva and cultural icon Grace Jones when parking and the South End intersect?

My impressions on the new rack:
1. Good, looks big enough for motorcycles!
2. Good, something for people to steal instead of mugging people or breaking into places. Kind of like a sacrificial metal (zinc) on steel to delay rust (galvanizing).

I scrolled through 125 other

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I scrolled through 125 other comments to find your contributions, and this is what I find? How disappointing.


Watch the video!

All the shots of roads and cars is almost as hot as the lyrics. Sorry, I was busy yesterday, and everyone else pretty much covered the issues. I wanted to add something new, and the video link was it.


One car usually one person

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Eight to ten bike spots = eight to ten persons.

Pretty easy math if you are a local merchant who wants eight to ten people dropping in.

Try this report to Citizen's Connect

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Take a picture of a car parked and say "car is parked on public property without paying anything for the privilege. This must stop. we should not be cutting school services and not plowing roads while these people get to use public property to store their personal property without paying rent."


This is about one parking space, where a resident's car would likely sit from 6pm to 8am. This leaves 10 hours through the rest of the day for cars to come and go. (It's more likely that the resident's car would sit for days at a time, but let's just assume it's a mere 6pm-8am sitter) This are is residential parking only, but lets also assume that during the day it is completely open to the public for them to come and go as they please. That thusly means there are 10 hours free to the public to park there. Assuming each car spends a mere hour there, that means 10 cars can come and go. So we have a total of 11 different cars using this space in a 24 hour period. Again, I find this highly unlikely, but we're being optimistic here... Meanwhile, this rack now provides space for 10 bicycles to lock up, even if all 10 sit there for days at a time. So, leaning towards pro-car parking as much as is reasonable (can we at least agree on that?), we're talking about a loss of 1 vehicle being able to park. Now, if we assume you can get creative with how you lock up, we could maybe see more than 10 bikes here. And we could undoubtedly see bikes come and go through the day, since I'm going to venture to guess that anyone locking their bike here is not leaving it for days at a time, but actually leaves for some hours at a time, giving windows for other bikes to come in.

Also worth noting they could have used a better rack, which would offer capacity which would blow one car space's capacity out of the water.

Not seeing any need to get mad either way. Though, I don't see what was wrong with how things were, other than people getting upidity over bikes locked to... a public fence. But I'm sure those are the same people now complaining that bikes don't have to lock up to a fence anymore. You can't win with them. You can only try to look at this as a matter of efficiency of land use.

i mean

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it's easy to say we should just continue locking to the fence (it's what would've happened had the City not come through for us), but it still really sucks to get passive-aggressive notes on your bike on a monthly basis when it's secured pretty in much the only way possible that doesn't include parking a bike in your living room. we did what we thought was the most reasonable thing to do to avoid pissing people off with our inveterate public property fence-locking. it's hard to have sympathy for folks that complain without engaging or helping find solutions/compromises. as i said before, the caveat for the NIMBY should always be "be careful what you wish for".

but yeah, all this over a single parking space. it's certainly amusing if nothing else.