Friday, April 9, 2010

Another improperly installed bike rack

I needed to ride to the county courthouse yesterday. It was a beautiful day and a nice ride from Reston to Fairfax City. When I arrived I didn't notice the rack in front of the main entrance, so I parked near the front door. As I was leaving I noticed the rack on the right.

I'm not fond of the wave rack since there's only one contact point with the bike compared to the U rack, which is the standard in most places. Bikes are supposed to be parked perpendicular to the rack. As you can see, when used properly bikes end up in the flower bed. What many people do is park parallel to the rack, which turns a 5-bike rack into a 1- or 2-bike rack. In this case, the 10-bike rack becomes a 2-bike rack.

Why is it so common to see improperly installed bike racks? One reason is that Fairfax County has no bike parking guidelines. In November of 2007, nearly two and a half years ago, Supervisor Smyth
moved that the Board direct staff to investigate and report within three months how other jurisdictions are addressing these issues and develop specific standards for the County to use as part of the land development process, and to further examine how these standards could best be introduced whether through adoption of a Board Policy, an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance, or incorporation into the Public Facilities Manual.
The guidelines are still under development. We continue to ask about the status but have never seen draft guidelines although we've been assured they are due any day now.

Staff do work with new developments to request racks and provide guidance regarding placement, but almost every new rack that I've seen in the past couple of years is incorrectly placed and of the wrong type. The county bike program needs more resources for this type of work, and yet the county executive has proposed cutting all operating funds from the program.

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