MassBike Helps MBTA Design New Bike Racks

MassBike has been working with the MBTA to evaluate bike rack designs for the new Pedal & Park secure bike parking facilities coming soon to stations including Braintree, Ashmont, Davis Square, Oak Grove, and Malden Center. (The South Station Pedal & Park, which already has racks, will also be completed soon.) These great bike parking facilities will encourage more people to take the T instead of driving, by giving them the confidence to leave their bikes at stations that have suffered from insufficient bike parking and bike thefts in the past. Pedal & Parks have already made a big difference at Alewife and Forest Hills.

To maximize the number of bikes that can fit in each Pedal & Park, the T plans to use bi-level racks. The existing racks at Alewife, Forest Hills, and South Station are OK, but those racks are either unavailable now, or have not worked that well in actual use. So the T asked for feedback from actual bicyclists on bike rack prototypes from two vendors. We reported back that all the designs had significant drawbacks.

A few weeks later, when the T asked us to try out another design, we were pleased to see that most of our concerns had been addressed.

Executive Director David Watson tries out new bike rack

The T took our feedback seriously, asking the manufacturers to address the problems we identified. The new design works much better, and needs just a few more modifications before going into production for the new Pedal & Parks.

We really appreciate the T asking for our input and taking the time to get this right!

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3 Responses to MassBike Helps MBTA Design New Bike Racks

  1. Henry Lieberman August 29, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    Outdoor bike racks for commuters in New England should be *covered* against rain and snow. This can be as simple as a canvas awning over the rack. It doesn’t have to be fully enclosed.

    Yes, a bike won’t melt if you leave it out in the rain. But if you are a bike commuter and leave your bike outdoors all day, every day at a workplace or commuter train station, it will rust and cause other maintenance problems.

    The other problem with most outdoor bike racks is they don’t leave enough space between bikes. In the old days, you could lock up only a bike’s front wheel. Now, you have to make sure the frame is locked to the rack, awkward or impossible on older bike rack designs. I’m constantly getting other bikes’ pedals mashed into the spokes of my wheel. Just like car parking leaves enough space for doors to open, bike racks must make sure there is space to lock the frames of both bikes *and* space to maneuver, between adjacent bike rack spaces.

    Henry Lieberman

  2. Price September 8, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    Henry, you’re right on all counts! Covered bike parking is key, and we are always working with transit agencies around the state to change to covered parking when possible. Having a safe spot to park your bike (from weather, other bikes and would-be thieves) is essential to getting more people biking – thanks for the feedback!

  3. jsd September 13, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    Just a warning about the bike cage at South Station. I’ve left my bike for days at a time at South Station in the old rack by the tracks, and the worst that ever happened was a light was stolen.

    I left it for 2 days in the new cage and it was completely vandalized: seat stolen, handlebars stolen, all cables cut, headset destroyed.

    I spoke to the security guard and she said that they’ve been meaning to get around to putting a lock on the cage from midnight to morning when the MBTA is shut but hadn’t gotten around to it yet.