As noted in a prior column, bike parking at Knox College is headed in the right direction. The hardware is much improved. But the rest of the infrastructure falls short. Spacing is a problem.
For the sake of argument, let’s agree that the average car space is 8.25 feet wide, and the average car is 6 feet wide. That means drivers have more than 2 feet of space between vehicles.
The newest bike racks on campus are 30 inches apart. That’s supposed to be enough for two bikes side by side. In use, the space between bikes is about 6 inches.
We have spent a ton of money and land on parking for cars. In exchange for the cost and comfort of bigger spaces, car drivers have compromised on convenience. Car drivers agreed to live between the lines. They don’t get to park wherever they want.
Bikers, on the other hand, seem to think that we should be able to park wherever we want. Just outside the front door, chained to a railing, in the middle of the sidewalk, and for a lucky few, in our own room or someone else’s hallway—options not available to those without their own inside privileges. It’s no wonder that bikers are treated like second-class citizens. Our behavior is second-rate.
What if bikers agreed to park by the same rules as car drivers? If you park where it’s not allowed, your ride will be booted, then impounded and you’ll have to pay to get it back. Let it sit in storage for a month, it will be considered abandoned. If it’s a loaner from Knox, there’s a one strike policy.
More and better bike parking is not cheap. In addition to space, I’ve got expensive suggestions for even better racks.
What will it take to boost bike parking at Knox? Compromise. Car drivers have already done their compromising—trading the convenience of park-anywhere for the comfort provided by more money and more space. Can bikers do the same?