Friday, February 14, 2014

Give Me Shelter

Passing through a University of Ulster campus the other day, I saw a couple of these neat bicycle parking structures. A transparent plexiglass shelter has been put up around an ordinary 6-slot bike rack. Likely in tribute to the campus's seaside location, the enclosure is abstractly sail-shaped. There is an intriguing quality to the way it catches and reflects light even in overcast conditions, and I was not the only passer-by inspired to snap a photo. Others ducked beneath to hide from a sudden burst of rain. One student even actually used it to lock up his bike. He then lingered inside while making a phone call before reluctantly moving on.

Despite its resemblance to contemporary sculpture, the university's enclosed bike rack is basically a modified bus shelter, of the kind commonly scattered through the local countryside - light-catching properties included. These too will sometimes function as makeshift refuges for pedestrians and cyclists - locals who aren't waiting for a bus, but want some cover from rain or wind. It seems this kind of structure makes for a useful multi-purpose design.

My picture of the sheltered campus bike rack received some positive feedback from cyclists, which makes me wonder to what extent a feature like this is valued. For those who must leave their bikes outdoors for 8-hour work days, sheltered racks would offer some protection from the elements. On the other hand, they would not really do much to deter theft compared to ordinary bike racks. Still, they could be an option worth considering for employers who cannot provide indoor bicycle parking - particularly in areas where weather damage is a bigger concern than theft. It might also be nice if the sheltered bus stops could be combined with bike racks of the same design, which could, in turn, encourage multi-modal commuting - particularly in winter. With storms hitting both sides of the pond pretty hard at the moment, rain and snow are playing starring roles in our lives, but we pedal on when possible and take shelter where we can!

24 comments:

  1. The curved steel-and-glazing bike shelter seems to be the standard design in the UK now: one of those bits of street/campus/station furniture that almost nobody notices, though there must be a narrative as to how that form came to dominate in the past decade or two. A quick google suggests they are mostly supplied by companies that also make shelters for all the hapless smokers banished outside offices, railway stations etc. So the two groups can now eye each other ruefully, maybe enviously, through the drizzle.

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  2. This already happens in many places.

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  3. NUI Galway has the same covered bike stations! I loved them.

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    1. Ah ok, so the sail shape is not a local thing. Do many students cycle there?

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  4. Those plexi-covered bike racks are popular in Switzerland, and when I visited the "home office" of my company in Basel last year, I saw these all over the campus, which has its own free bike-sharing program. So these racks are full of bikes 24/7.

    I think it's smart, especially if there are going to be used by bikes that live outdoors exclusively. Even crude shelter almost certainly prolongs the life of a bike left outside all the time. It also gives the cyclist shelter as he fumbles around for his lock and other stuff whilst locking up.

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  5. My suggestions to include bike shelters in my office projects are being accepted more often by the developers. Tenants are beginning to consider this and real estate agents know it.

    There is also the interest in secured/locked bicycle shelters, yet these add significantly to operations, security details, and potentially cameras. I've been wondering, among cyclist who park outside, how much more benefit is a secured structure over just a shelter?

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    1. I think a sheltered bike rack like this that invited people(cyclists or not) to hang out, avoid the wind/rain or just congregate in an interesting, discreet space, might discourage thieves who like to smash and grab in private. I promise not to winge about cigarette butts if the smokers kinda look out for my bike...

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    2. Smokers are always a problem in my area, it seems. I have to leave my bike locked up at an outside rack all day while at work, and there are times I've found cigarette ashes on my seat at the end of the day. They don't seem to have any respect for other people's property; they flick the ashes wherever they will, and throw the butts down without even looking.

      I fear that if my company did actually put up an enclosure around a bike rack, as much as I would love that, the smokers would just use it as another smoke shack (they already congregate around the rack area every break), and the situation would get worse.

      ...Okay, I'm done venting...

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  6. Replies
    1. Borderline. The River Roe began overflowing just now and the Lough Foyle is in the back yard, so we're sitting tight.

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    2. scratch that, there's no flooding; we're fine here

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    3. Glad to hear- that pic on Twitter was alarming.

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    4. It was close. But some standing water in fields and back roads is pretty much the worst of it here. England and ROI got it much worse.

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  7. Hey! More importantly Happy Valentine's Day from snow / sludge locked NYC !!

    vsk

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  8. Bus + bike multimodal? Crazy. To accomodate non-bike and bike passengers the canopy would have to be twice as large, creating a giant sail, particularly if there isn't a prevailing wind.

    All this sailplane activity and wind study hasn't taught you that?

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    1. The bigger the sail the better to sail away on during flood. Multimodal.

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  9. Great idea, having a wet bike isn't nice, and being exposed to the elements does it's damage over time. Plus how nice to have somewhere covered to lock and unlock the bike, fumble with bags, helmets etc.. People who only drive to get around simply do not consider all the extra things cyclists and bus users have to deal with. Being out in all weather, waiting for buses that never seem to come, the extra time involved...
    I know there are a few bike lock areas in car parks in Vancouver, but they are a bit skeevy and not necessarily being watched for theft. Something like would be absolutely loved. My bike is left outside all day at work, I can't leave it under the awning and the only protection is a plastic bag on the brooks saddle.

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  10. Thanks for showing these. I haven't seen them elsewhere yet, but I'll look into them. I'm a transit administrator.

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  11. Nice. Would be great to see these in Chicago area.

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  12. These kind of shelters with transparent plexiglas are typically north shape conception. Hot sunny weather is not an issue, nevertheless I wonder if it withstands storm.
    L.

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  13. We have the same one in work, have had for 11 years now - stands beside an identical one for the smokers... Smoke hut is usually a LOT busier than the bike shelter!

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  14. They had to be made see-though. For anyone at school in the UK up until the late '90's or so, the "back of the bike sheds" was where you were first experienced threats with menaces, cigarettes and, if you were lucky, the opposite sex!

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  15. I like very much. I'm in the northwest corner of Washington State, U.S. We do get a lot of precipitation most of the year. We do not get nearly enough covered bicycle parking.

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