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VTBIKEPEDPOLICY-L  March 1999

VTBIKEPEDPOLICY-L March 1999

Subject:

Plain Words About Bike Track

From:

"Peter K. Duval" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Policy Discussion <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 29 Mar 1999 11:15:08 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (124 lines)

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 nationwide
> then new solutions must be demonstrated and tested until they
> meet federal standards.
>
> - Gerry
>
> www.biketrack.com

This sounds high minded, but this discussion list is about appropriate policy
and design for Vermont conditions.  Below I'll discuss how Bike Track fails
basic design considerations in the interest of profit.  But first the Truss:

Truss Ramp
**************************
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 audience.  It
has a flimsy appearance, limited span, limited width, and would be of
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.  Temporary
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.

Bike Track
**************************

Bike Track is more about marketing and making money than the promoting public
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 consideration of
cyclists) solution to the problem of bicycles.

The Little Parker should have been withdrawn years ago.  Bike Track's failure
to do so demonstrates that Bike Track is more interested in testing our
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 other busy
areas.  This creates conflict between the parked bicycle and passing
pedestrians, leading to some specific problems mentioned below.  Fundamentally
though, if a site designer doesn't confront bike storage as a design issue,
then poor, unusable storage is the result.

(2) Wheelbender
*************************
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 only stability,
but also acceptance of a variety of bike types and configurations.  Because the
Little Parker is often placed in high traffic areas, and bikes project  well
away from the rack, wheel-bending is enhanced by bumping from passing
pedestrians and vehicles.

(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 Little Parker
is designed for the sales brochures, not the real world.  The Little Parker
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.

(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 wheelbender bike
racks sit empty nearby.  With its diminutive stature, complex design and poor
placement, the Little Parker is not recognizable as good bike storage.
Consequently, it is not used.

(5) Complex
*************************
Lots of cutting, drilling and welding make the Little Parker a complex
fabrication.  The security arm adds an unnecessary moving part, which further
complicates the design and use of the device.

(6) Hazardous
*************************
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 Parker ensure
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.

(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.  In many
installations, base mounting provides a weak attachment.

(8) Insecurity
**************************
Not as much of an issue in Vermont: the Little Parker does not provide for
double frame locking with U-locks.

(9) Low Capacity
**************************
A single Little Parker module can only claim to provide a single parking
opportunity.  It is costly, compared to the alternatives:  a railing or
inverted-u provides double the capacity per module;  parking meter rings are
cheap and effective; ribbon racks, though sacrificing the second balance point,
offer multiple parking opportunities per installed unit.

-Peter


--
Peter K. Duval                         +1 802 899 1132
98 Sleepy Hollow Road                   fax:  899 2430
Essex Junction, VT 05452-2798      [log in to unmask]
USA                            www.emba.uvm.edu/~duval

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