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Old 04-16-08, 07:21 AM   #1
Old Dirt Hill
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Do I have to lockup at the bike rack?

For the last six months or so I've been locking my bike up at location "A." Location A is the side of a parking garage that is near the smoker's station and in view of a security camera for my building. I like location A for these reasons along with the fact that it's extremely easy for me to use my u-lock and cable combo in a way that is extremely secure.

A couple weeks ago, I noticed someone installing bike racks nearby (location "B"). They are the standard looking bike rack which only allows for two decent lockup locations (either end) so that I can use the u-lock through the frame and rear wheel and cable through the frame and front wheel. I thought that it was nice of them to install these, but I would continue to lock up at location A (again, more security).

Anyway, this morning an employee that works at the parking garage comes up to me and tells me that I cannot lock my bike at location A and that I must now use location B. I told him that I'd been locking up at location A for months and that I thought it was a more secure location. I told him that "city ordinance" says that I can lock up anywhere I choose as long as it's not in the way of vehicles or traffic (I have no idea if this is true or not, I just came up with it on the spot). "You've done your research," he replies. I continue and tell him that I fail to see the problem (for anyone) with location A. "It doesn't look good," he replies...

So I tell him that I'm going to leave my bike at location A for today but that I would seriously consider location B. He walked away telling me that he would "work the issue from his end," whatever that means.

Am I required to park at a bike rack, if provided? What would you do?

Last edited by Old Dirt Hill; 04-16-08 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 04-16-08, 08:02 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Old Dirt Hill View Post
Am I required to park at a bike rack, if provided? What would you do?
I don't believe that there's any law that says that one must park at a bike rack if provided, but the building owner is also vaguely within their rights to post a sign by your Location A stating something along the lines of "This area must be kept clear at all times. Anything parked or locked to this location will be removed at owner's expense."

Then, once the sign is up, they are vaguely within their rights to confiscate your bike and charge you for the time taken to break your lock. I only say vaguely because their ability to do this is dependent on whether your Location A is actually within their property boundary or within a public space. It is also dependent on whether the property owner believes that you will sue in the event that your bike is confiscated; and whether or not it's worth their time.

It might help to find some sort of middle ground. If the building can either install a security camera or confirm that they have personnel patrolling the area regularly, then that might be a method for meeting you halfway.

Also, what I've found with bike racks is that in some cases, I can actually back my bike into the rack slots and use the ulock to go through the back wheel and rear triangle. So long as the rack is high enough to accomodate your rear triangle, then this might be a more optimal approach than using the end slots or trying to get your front wheel and downtube over the rack.
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Old 04-16-08, 08:24 AM   #3
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I told him that "city ordinance" says that I can lock up anywhere I choose as long as it's not in the way of vehicles or traffic
look that up it might be true. I know here the ordinance specifically states that one can lock to parking meters and street signs.
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Old 04-16-08, 08:51 AM   #4
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Such a common problem: people providing bike facilities that don't know anything about bikes. I never really understand the bike racks with slots for tyres - mine rarely fit, and what are you supposed to do, lock the wheel to the rack and let your frame go free? My ideal bike rack looks like the metal barriers they use to stop pedestrians crossing streets, with lots of bars for you to fit your lock through. Failing that, a simple inverted U shape would do fine...

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Old 04-16-08, 09:07 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Old Dirt Hill View Post
... "It doesn't look good," he replies...
+1!

Parked bicycles improve the appearance of a building. Abandoned bicycles don't look good, of course.
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Old 04-16-08, 09:17 AM   #6
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Depends on your building manager really, I'd bring up your concerns with her/him...

I know out here at the convention center if you lock up on anything except the racks provided, they will cut your lock and take your bike, they did this at the handmade bicycle show recently, there are vids on youtube of security persons taking bikes that were locked to handrails (taking peoples bikes at a bike show is kinda wrong IMHO, especially since all the bikeracks were full).
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Old 04-16-08, 09:25 AM   #7
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Am I required to park at a bike rack, if provided? What would you do?
Some cities have requirements that a business owner provide bike parking. Madison is one of those cities, so if the rack is reasonable, I use it. There are a *lot* of racks around the city that are lovely examples for the bad rack list in the city's rack guidelines. Local bike shops seem particularly fond of the sort of rack you describe. The rack will be positioned where it is *very* visible and can be watched easily tho, so it's fine for short visits. For a longer visit, they're usually ok with you bringing your bike inside.

I would start attending city planning meetings. It's very clear that business owners pay attention to Madison's rack guidelines, and they try to pick a "good rack" when a building goes up or is remodeled. 30 years later the racks don't always look so good, but businesses do *try*. If your city can develop some rack guidelines of their own, it will be easier for a non cyclist to pick a good rack and set it up so it works well.
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Old 04-16-08, 09:45 AM   #8
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Are you parking on private property or city-owned/government property?

If you are parking on private property, the property owner can do whatever they want. If they don't want you parking at spot A on their property, it is ther perogative, I would think.
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Old 04-16-08, 09:57 AM   #9
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The parking garage is not owned by the company that I work for. I believe it is city-owned property, but I'll have to look into this to be sure.

I agree/understand that if it's private property, they are within their rights to ask me to park at location B. It is unfortunate that location A is so much better and more secure (camera, frequent smoker traffic, much better locking potential, and in view from my building) than location B.

If staying at location A means I'll make someone grumpy and that will be the end of it, I can live with that. If staying at location A means that someone is going to cut my locks and I'll never see my bike again - obviously location B is the better choice.
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Old 04-16-08, 12:00 PM   #10
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I just confirmed that it is a city-owned, public parking ramp.
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Old 04-16-08, 08:37 PM   #11
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I could go either way on this one. The way your conversation played out you could take your chances with location A. How much did you pay for your bike if you don't mind me asking. This situation never makes me too uncomfortable because I only paid $250 and have gotten a lot of use out of my bicycle (enjoyment-wise and possibly distance-wise) and have debated upgrading for a while. Not that I want to lose my bike to a thief.

If you paid a high end amount (greater than $500) I probably keep locking at A until they either say something / leave me a note etc. If you paid closer to what I paid I would just switch to B.
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Old 04-17-08, 12:09 AM   #12
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I've only ever locked my bike in secure locations, such as bike lockup that requires ID access and wouldn't feel comfortable leaving any bike outside where it is accessible to the general public. Even if you lock up your bike securely there are plenty of idiots out there that could steal your seatpost.

I'd fight for your right, I fail to see how a locked up bike looks bad. Any possibility of locking it up inside or in your office? I know when I was at uni I wasn't allowed to keep it in my lab due to health and safety issues but when I got a job for a private company I ensured I could keep my bike in the building at the interview, always helps when your boss rides to work as well.
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Old 04-17-08, 12:35 AM   #13
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When I went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (a public college, so it's all public property) it was against the rules to lock your bike anywhere other than a bike rack. The first few weeks of a new quarter they'd just put a paper warning on your bike explaining the rule, but after a while they'd start "booting" illegally locked bikes by locking them up with a police department owned U-lock. You had to go to the campus police and pay a small fee for them to remove their lock.

You may want to look up your city's municipal code to see if it has anything about bike parking. Here's what mine says (Santa Maria, CA):

Quote:
Originally Posted by Santa Maria Municipal Code
Section 7-10.07. Parking.

No person shall park a bicycle upon a street other than upon the roadway against the curb, or in a bicycle rack, or upon the sidewalk at the curb, in such a manner as to afford the least obstruction to pedestrian traffic. It is unlawful to attach to, chain or lock onto or lean a bicycle against a parking meter.
Here's what the California Vehicle Code has to say about bicycle parking.

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Originally Posted by California Vehicle Code
21210. No person shall leave a bicycle lying on its side on any
sidewalk, or shall park a bicycle on a sidewalk in any other
position, so that there is not an adequate path for pedestrian
traffic. Local authorities may, by ordinance or resolution, prohibit
bicycle parking in designated areas of the public highway, provided
that appropriate signs are erected.
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Old 04-17-08, 07:19 AM   #14
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Well I looked up the city ordinances on the topic and found the following:

Quote:
Originally Posted by My city ordinance
Section 236:60.Subd.4.f

No person will leave a bicycle in a place other than a bicycle rack when one is provided and space is available, or leave a bicycle in a place where other persons may be injured by the bicycle.
I don't have to be happy about it, but I suppose that this settles it.
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Old 04-17-08, 07:39 AM   #15
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Actually, I just took a closer look at the ordinance and the one I referenced above only pertains to city parks.

Then I found this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Other city ordinance
Section 635:35.Subd.3.

To ride a bicycle on the sidewalk and or landscaping areas of the Central Business District or to lock or chain a bicycle to any object other than a bike rack.
and this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Other city ordinance
Section 700:22.Subd.8.a

The prohibitions set forth in the subdivisions, which follow, are declared to be nuisances affecting the peace and safety of users of municipal parking lots: ....To ride a bicycle in the landscaping areas of a parking lot or to lock or chain a bicycle to any object in a parking lot other than a bike rack.
I'm in a parking lot in the Central Business District, so I guess I'll go out there and move my bike today.
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Old 04-17-08, 07:52 AM   #16
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If its private property, they can make you "park it" where ever they want.... Just like unauthorized vehicles getting towed..... Want your bike towed?

Since its owned by the city, the city can dictate where you are allowed to park..... Their lot, their rules

JMHO

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Old 04-17-08, 11:35 AM   #17
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Well, I moved my bike to the city provided rack during lunch.

Now that I've seen it up close, I have even more concerns about the design. While it's bolted to the concrete, it could easily be removed with a ratchet and a few minutes of work. If the eight foot rack is too much for one guy to wrangle, the rack is bolted together with more bolts of the same size. Someone could disassemble the rack and be gone with my bike in only a few minutes.

I don't think I'm being paranoid, but I'm aware that I might be.

My only reservation about bringing the bike into the building is that it's brand new (the building) and I'm concerned that someone will come up with some imaginary reason about why bikes in the building aren't a good idea. I guess I'll give it a shot and find out, as I already scoped out a somewhat secluded area for parking.
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Old 04-17-08, 11:52 AM   #18
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I would simply ask your supervisor if it's OK to park inside. I asked my boss awhile ago if she minds if I park in a side, dead end hall. The person who has an office there also does not mind. She said no prob.

I don't even lock it up. Access to the building itself is restricted and the entire floor knows it's mine.

Just never bring it up on a rainy or snowy day. I once did that , and the snow melted in a few minutes leaving a puddle. (duh - what was I thinking). I ran to clean it up. Also, make it clear you will be thoughtful and never park inside when the bike is wet, so as not to give them an excuse to say no. A bike is no worse say than a mail cart etc.
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Old 04-17-08, 12:40 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Dirt Hill View Post
They are the standard looking bike rack which only allows for two decent lockup locations (either end)
You could refer building management to one of the following documents:

Bicycle Parking - Good and Bad Practices from Around the World
Bicycle Parking

In particular, it sounds like the rack they installed is the kind that holds the bike by the wheel instead of the frame in two places.

Is location B within sight of the building entrance, or is it kind of hidden away in an area that gives thieves more security?
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Old 04-17-08, 01:28 PM   #20
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Location B is not hidden away by any means, but location A was right next to the smoker's station that pretty much has people standing around 8x5 (and most of which know or at least recognize me).

The management of the parking garage is that of the city. Which in my experience, is unfortunately much more difficult to deal with than a private company.

Last edited by Old Dirt Hill; 04-17-08 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 04-17-08, 01:30 PM   #21
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Aside from the prerogative and legalities with this parking issue, I think it speaks volumes that a bike rack is considered "unsightly." What's more sad is that this viewpoint is probably very common.
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Old 04-17-08, 01:31 PM   #22
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I wouldn't be surprised if there's some sort of gotcha in the name of emergency service access or something that could be used to require you to be at least X feet from a door or window... we were just told here that 'liability' prevents us from taking bikes inside at all.
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Old 04-17-08, 01:58 PM   #23
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IMO you can thank your employer (or the manager of the garage?) for their gesture, but tell them that you'll continue to lock your bike in the place you feel is superior (unless it's unsafe/in the way for others). Use this as a starting point for conversations about what's wrong with their choice of rack, location, etc... and how you'd be more than willing to help them improve their "bike friendly" factor in the future. Mention health insurance and wellness and you may get some buy-in.

The bulding where I work installed a really cheap bike rack in an isolated area two years ago. There are several of us who bike to work in the warmer months and none of us use that rack. The building management wanted to know why and sent out an email. The next afternoon I completely disassembled the rack and took photos to show them how bad the rack is (I then reassembled it). I let them know that I don't own a car, so this is an important issue to me. This was the start of some good conversation. Through some discussions we managed to work out a compromise with the facilities manager that seems to suit all of us, and they are seriously considering bike lockers when they remodel the facility later this year. (We're still not allowed to bring bikes into our cubes- that would be too easy)
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