Multi-modal Parking Tickets

The Problem

Source: theChainLink

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One of the issues that will cause headaches for bicycle riders and transit authorities alike is the question of capacity. If the Chicago City Hall predictions of an increase in commuter ridership among cyclists of between 300% and 500% in the next decade come true that will place strains on the physical systems that deliver riders to and from their places of business but it will also make for some frayed nerves.

A good example is what is happening right now on the CTA lines. The Western Metra stop has begun ticketing bikes that are attached to locations that are not designated for bicycles. The original poster whose handle is Reba writes:

If you’ve locked your bike to the hand railing at the Western Metra stop at Western and Grand, you might be coming back to a ticket/fine or confiscation if you’re deemed to be a repeat offender. I saw an officer ticketing bikes about 5 mins ago and asked him about it. Bikes are confiscated if they have been seen locked their before (and ticketed?) And to get your bike back you need proof of ownership. He did mention “knowing your serial number or showing purchase receipt”.

But surely none of us would lock our bikes to the railing.

And as usual the responses are all over the map from aggressive to understanding and sometimes from the same individuals. Here is a sampling:

Reply by Tim S 5 hours ago

Forgive what may be a silly question but why are they ticketing?

Reply by James BlackHeron 5 hours ago

I’m just guessing but perhaps they feel bikes blocking handrailings might constitute a violation of ADA requirements for getting to said handrailings for those who  need them.

I don’t know about Metra, but CTA is seriously fascist when it comes to their signage too.  Never lock to a CTA bus stop sign or any other CTA infrastructure.  If they feel it is blocking the view of drivers coming into the stop or in any way impeding riders when standing/waiting/boarding a bus they will just yank the bike without any notice or warning.  For all intents the bike might as well have been stolen for all most people know when they get back to it.   Good luck calling them either as nobody will know where your bike is -it is like it fell down a black  hole.

Reply by h’ 4 hours ago

The implication is that there is appropriate bike parking that’s not being utilized . . .(?)

Reply by notoriousDUG 4 hours ago

I used to commute form that stop and lock up at it.  There actually is substantial bike parking there that is under utilized.  Bikes get locked to the railing instead of the bike parking and can often end up a hindrance both on the wheelchair ramp and the stairs.

However there is a good reason for this.  The bike parking there is hidden from view of both the street and the platform and would not only be a good place to steal bikes or parts from but also an excellent spot to assault somebody.  In the time I commuted there the only bikes I ever saw parked there were obviously stripped and abandoned or serious bum bikes; anything nice was locked to the railings.

Reply by Adam Herstein 3 hours ago

Maybe better bike parking should be installed instead of paying someone to issue tickets. Seems like a better use of funds.

Reply by Jared 3 hours ago

I’m hoping they at least have a sign stating not to lock to railing…

Reply by Anne Alt 3 hours ago

+1  And Jared’s suggestion about signage is a good one.

Perhaps it’s worth sending Metra a message.

Reply by James BlackHeron 3 hours ago

Metra seems to be pretty deaf to the needs and concerns of cyclists on the whole.  But it is worth a try anyhow.

The Take Aways Here Seem To Be

Parking is an issue that has some nuances where bicycles are concerned. Few if any multi-modal bicyclists seem to use folding bicycles. As a result they end up having to secure their bikes to locations that are deemed safer by their own lights.

For instance a bike should be secured as close to the visual lines of sight of the public as possible on the off chance that a bike thief with an angle grinder will be shy about walking away with a nice bike in broad daylight. But of course if you search the ChainLink archives you will find that bike thieves are not only lacking in shyness but are quite bold about reselling stolen bikes at the nearest flea market possible.

If folders were used it would mean that the riders could board the train (carrying their bikes in shrouds) and then use them on the other end of the Metra ride to travel the remainder of the distance from their train exit point to their office locations. Using a non-folding bike has its limitations because of the restrictions to boarding trains during rush hour. And that situation is going to get even more troublesome for riders who board with bikes if the number increase as much as predicted.

But even if riders continue to leave their bikes at their local stations they will still have issues that result from the increase in ridership. The limited parking spots that are now being eschewed as unsafe will mean that increases in ridership will probably see even more riders attempting to use hand rails in direct disregard to the wishes of the Metra.

What was not discussed in the forum thread above was what impact these bikes have on lawsuits brought against Metra when a passenger becomes entangled with a bike while entering or leaving the station and falls or otherwise has a serious injury directly related to the presence of the bicycles.

Sometimes the scope of understanding of cyclists is a bit too myopic for my tastes. The “air of entitlement” that surrounds bicycle discussions is often breathtaking. Do we really not understand that the world is not revolving around our needs any more than someone else’s?

When you stop and think about it this is a situation which is the equivalent of having automobiles parked in the bicycle lane. Only here we have cyclists using rails intended for the aid of pedestrians climbing or descending stairs and or simply steadying themselves while walking. It is not clear to us that we might actually have little skin in this particular game?

Contrast this discussion with how motorcycles are greeted by cyclists when they use the bicycle lane.

To paraphrase one of the respondents:

Cyclists seems to be pretty deaf to the needs and concerns of everybody else on the whole.