I will do my best to address the concerns Peter expresses below.
My responses follow each concern he expresses. I do believe that
bicycle pedestrian policy is well served by getting as many new
ideas out, tested and demonstrated as possible. Not all ideas
will be good and one idea or new approach will not fit all
situations. Also many ideas and new approaches take time to
evolve into viable solutions.
Bike Track, Inc.
From: Peter K. Duval <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
<[log in to unmask]>
Date: Monday, March 29, 1999 11:14 AM
Subject: [VTBIKEPEDPOLICY-L] Plain Words About Bike Track
>Was: Re: [VTBIKEPEDPOLICY-L] Bad Road Reports - Bridges
>Now: Plain Words About Bike Track
>Gerry Hawkes wrote:
>> ...if we are to address the serious constraints to
>> bicycling and walking along public roads and highways
>> then new solutions must be demonstrated and tested until they
>> meet federal standards.
>> - Gerry
>This sounds high minded, but this discussion list is about
>and design for Vermont conditions. Below I'll discuss how Bike
>basic design considerations in the interest of profit. But
first the Truss:
RESPONSE: Bike Track was started after many years of deep
concern over the effects of air pollution on our forests,
particularly transportation generated pollution. I gave serious
consideration to setting up a not-for-profit organization to
develop new ideas to encourage less polluting means of
transportation, but decided that the only way to attract
sufficient investment and generate the revenue needed to make a
meaningful difference was through a for-profit corporation.
Quite frankly there are many easier ways to make a profit than
promoting new ideas for bicycling, walking and wheelchair use.
>Having looked over the web pages for the truss ramp, my first
reaction is that
>this is another product designed for marketing to a non-biking
>has a flimsy appearance, limited span, limited width, and would
>questionable usefulness for high spans and public ways. I may
change my mind,
>but I think that Bike Track should stick to marketing this
product as a mail
>order ramp for low height, low traffic, private installations.
>installation for pedestrians at construction sites might be a
use. Why not
>sell this to Gardener's Supply as a "private" cantilever on the
Blue Bridge to
>see whether people are willing to use it in a high installation.
RESPONSE: You are correct in your initial reaction. What you
see on the web is designed for short spans of 30' or less in
wheelchair ramp applications. For longer, wider, and more
heavily loaded spans, the same modular concept would need to be
increased in size and strength, and features such as safety mesh
would need to be added. Since the modular truss system is
relatively light weight, in many cases it could be at least
partially supported on the outside of existing highway bridges.
To properly modify, test and demonstrate a modular system to meet
ASHTO and other federal standards will require far more time and
money than Bike Track can muster. This is why we put forth the
example of the wheelchair ramp application as a proof of initial
concept that deserves furthur consideration. Gardeners Supply is
a good suggestion, but I would want to see the modular truss
system rigorously tested before that type of installation is
>Bike Track is more about marketing and making money than the
>interest and good design. As an example: Little Parker Wall-It
>(http://www.biketrack.com/littlepa.htm), a wheelbender bike
rack, is heavily
>marketed to non-bikers as a painless (in terms of space or
>cyclists) solution to the problem of bicycles.
RESPONSE: Bike racks that hold bicycles by front wheel with
single vertical bars are notorious for allowing bicycles to tip
with the possibility of twisting rims. The Little Parker Wall-It
module has double vertical bars on both sides plus a mid-cross
bar that prevents the bicycles from tipping over even if you
push. This bar configuration spreads the force on the wheel so
that barring major impact, say from a car bumping into the bike,
the wheel will not twist. For even more stability, the security
arm may be pivoted up and locked to the bike frame.
>The Little Parker should have been withdrawn years ago. Bike
>to do so demonstrates that Bike Track is more interested in
>patience than testing designs. Here are the many ways
(partially ranked) in
>which the Little Parker fails as a design concept:
>(1) Encourages Poor Site Design
>Little Parker invites designers to tack bike storage onto a
design as an
>afterthought. Bike Track emphasizes the compactness of the
Little Parker, and
>encourages designers to place racks near doorways, walkways and
>areas. This creates conflict between the parked bicycle and
>pedestrians, leading to some specific problems mentioned below.
>though, if a site designer doesn't confront bike storage as a
>then poor, unusable storage is the result.
RESPONSE: One way to encourage people to use bicycles rather
than cars is to provide bicycle parking and security right at the
cyclists' desired destinations. Often there is no room to do
this with larger bike racks that must sit out away from a wall
plus there are often aesthetic objections. Modules may be angled
at 35 degrees to reduce the projection of bicycles into sidewalk
space. In addition to providing convenience, bicycles that are
dispersed and secured individually or in small groups in high
visibility locations are much less likely to be stolen than
bicycles parked in large groups in less visible spots.
>The Little Parker supports bicycles by one wheel rim. This
violates a basic
>principle of rack design. Racks should balance by the bike's
seat post to get
>a barely passing grade, and by both the seat post and head tube
to get any
>higher grade. The principle of two point balancing ensures not
>but also acceptance of a variety of bike types and
configurations. Because the
>Little Parker is often placed in high traffic areas, and bikes
>away from the rack, wheel-bending is enhanced by bumping from
>pedestrians and vehicles.
RESPONSE: Please see previous response. With the security arm
locked in place bikes are well supported from the front wheel to
the frame. The security arm serves to lock-out the pivoting of
the front wheel thus keeping the bike straight and upright. In
many other bike racks, if a bike is not properly parked, the
front wheel often turns sideways.
>(3) Bare Fat Tire Requirement
>Take a look at the bikes in the promotional photos for the
Little Parker: no
>fenders, no pannier racks. Indeed, mostly mountain bikes. The
>is designed for the sales brochures, not the real world. The
>will only accept a bare wheel and because it relies on a snug
fit, fat mountain
>bike tires are required to give the illusion of stability.
RESPONSE: Little Parkers are designed to park bicycles by the
front wheel. The largest mountain bike tires fit snuggly. The
narrowest racing bike tires fit with room to spare which means
that when the security arm is not employed a bike with racing
tires may lean 5 or 10 degrees, but will not tip because of the
multiple rail design. In most cases the security arm is
employed. Because bicycles are parked front wheel first, fenders
or paniers have not been a problem. If you have front paniers
and need to lock the bike using the security arm, you will
naturally remove the paniers and take them with you.
>(4) Unrecognizable As Bike Storage
>As noted in (2), bikes need to lean frame-against-rack. This is
why you'll see
>trees and light poles fully populated with locked bikes while
>racks sit empty nearby. With its diminutive stature, complex
design and poor
>placement, the Little Parker is not recognizable as good bike
>Consequently, it is not used.
RESPONSE: Poor placement can be a problem no matter what the
design of the bike rack. Since Little Parkers are so different
in design, we have found it helpful to lock a demonstration bike
in one module of a grouping so that cyclists can see clearly see
what they are for and how they are used.
>Lots of cutting, drilling and welding make the Little Parker a
>fabrication. The security arm adds an unnecessary moving part,
>complicates the design and use of the device.
RESPONSE: This is a trade off to achieve a compact modular
design. The security arm is extremely strong and has a large
diameter stainless steel pivot which is virtually maintenance
free and not at all complex. Remember this is not designed to be
the least expensive bicycle parking device, but is intended to
fill a need not met by other designs.
>The swinging security arm is an invitation to mashing fingers
against bike or
>the Little Parker. And when not in use as a rack, the easy
swinging arm must
>really appeal to toddlers! The sharp corners of the Little
>maximum injury to anyone unlucky enough fall near the rack.
This is enhanced
>by the Little Parker's shin height, dark matte finish and
typical free standing
>placement near walkways.
RESPONSE: The Little Parker is designed so that planters or
benches may be installed on top for safe, attractive,
multi-functional installations. The majority of installations
are actually against walls. We have had no reports of tripping,
finger pinching or toddlers playing with bike racks.
>(7) Low Durability
>The high leverage of the security arm provides opportunity to
vandals as well
>as toddlers. The many nooks and crannies soak up salt and grit.
>installations, base mounting provides a weak attachment.
RESPONSE: As with any good bike rack we recommend anchoring into
concrete. Two 1/2" anchor bolts set into 4 way concrete anchor
bolts provide so much holding power that a two hundred pound man
pulling as hard as he can against the security arm can not begin
to wiggle a module. There is provision for four anchor points in
the bottom of each module, but only two are needed. Some of our
older racks only had one anchor hole and thus required connector
bars for addtional strength and stability. Also some
unsuccessful attempts were made to anchor to asphalt in early
installations. I don't know of any bike racks that successfully
anchor to asphalt.
Also earlier powder coat finishes did not hold up to salt well.
We have made many improvements in powder coat finishing, but
still would not recommend that the base of the modules be exposed
to excessive deicing salt.
>Not as much of an issue in Vermont: the Little Parker does not
>double frame locking with U-locks.
RESPONSE: You can certainly lock the frame and front wheel to
the security arm with a U-Lock then lock the rear wheel to the
frame with a second U-Lock. Remember there is additional
protection by being able to secure bicycles where they are easily
>(9) Low Capacity
>A single Little Parker module can only claim to provide a single
>opportunity. It is costly, compared to the alternatives: a
>inverted-u provides double the capacity per module; parking
meter rings are
>cheap and effective; ribbon racks, though sacrificing the second
>offer multiple parking opportunities per installed unit.
RESPONSE: These are valid points, but there are numerous
situations where the other solutions are not appropriate. For
Railing: Often there is a window or a wall that will not
allow a railing to be attached
Inverted U: Frequently not enought sidewalk space or not
Parking meter rings: Can interfere with access to meters and
sidewalks when bicycles are parked
Ribbon racks: Bicycles often tip and ribbon racks require
In short you should look at all types of bicycle parking and
security racks and decide which type suits a particular need
best. Little Parker Wall-It modules are not a universal bicycle
parking solution, but they fill a need for space saving bicycle
NOTE: I do not think we should be discussing products in such
detail in this forum, but I felt I should address Peter's
concerns. I do appreciate suggestions for improvement, but the
suggestions should be directed to me at [log in to unmask] and not
through a forum which really should be discussing issues more
closely related to bicycle/pedestrian policy.
>Peter K. Duval +1 802 899 1132
>98 Sleepy Hollow Road fax: 899 2430
>Essex Junction, VT 05452-2798 [log in to unmask]