Sunday, June 8, 2014

Racking My Brain

Any of you been on Orange Avenue in Coronado lately?  



If you are a bike enthusiast (and who isn't?) you have undoubtedly noticed that the Crown Island's main drag has become a veritable menagerie of bike racks.  Like the mish-mash of home styles that clash with each other on Coronado's residential streets (Craftsman, Victorian, Spanish Colonial, Billy-Box, 21st Century Nouveau Rich Greek Revival, Plasticine, etc.) the random variety of bike racks on display downtown defy any and all notions of uniformity, cohesion, or, in some cases, common decency.

I think the sudden proliferation of competing styles of racks may have been been sparked by the placement of these, experimental, bike corrals in place of certain parking spots last year:


The nice things about them (besides taking away parking spaces and, in turn, further incentivizing using bikes for errands downtown) is that they can accomodate lots of bikes (whereas a single rack can only handle one or two) and that their simple design allows for placing the lock and frame in a variety of positions.   The main, problem with them, though, is that they are just plain ugly --


These would have gone over great in 70's era Soviet Bloc countries.

For a far more visually appealing bike corral, one need only saunter across the bridge and up the 163 to Hillcrest --



Same concept (also occupying a parking space), but so much prettier!  These also appear to offer even more potential points of attachment per rack.

In acknowledgment, it appears, of the bland ugliness of the "new" bike corrals, it seems that the City has deployed several new experimental models for the public to examine and critique.  The. Most striking are these, I think:


They look even faster than the rocket-ship parked behind them!  Much, much, more stylish than the purely utilitarian corrals, while offering a multitude of attachment points (so important with a U-lock or when you want to get your frame and front wheel attached to the rack via one lock).  They'd look even better, though, if they were in a parking space!

Next up is this model spotted on the sidewalk near Cafe 1134:


Also sporting Coronado Islander Green, like the racer racks, these seem to blend utility and style --



It's easy to tell that some research and purposeful engineering went into these racks.  They are designed to prop up most bikes with built-in wheel wells, and an angled upper frame that will be adjacent to the frame (vice just the wheel) of the bike:


It would be super-easy to attach my U-Lock to the rack, frame and front wheel of my Urban Assault Bike (pictured) with this sleek frame.  The problem, though, is that a single one of these can only accomodate two bikes (hence all the cafe-goers bikes propped against the nearby tree.

Next up is this very interesting rack:


While not quite as stylish as the racer racks or the Ikea-style rack in front of Cafe 1134, this one is still more visually pleasing than the corrals (which isn't very hard to be).  What I like about them, though, is how they stand in stark contrast to the crappy, old-school rack in the background.  Look at how this design allows multiple bikes to get the frame and wheel adjacent to a point where a U-Lock can be utilized to lock both -- especially the frame.  The one behind, only allows the wheel to be locked -- which is useless against bike thieves who can detach the frame from the wheel and walk off with it in a split second.  Same goes for this rack spotted outside the Galley at North Island:


When I see one of these, I do exactly what the Sailor who owns the mountain bike pictured did -- lock it to the side of the rack frame, where my lock can reach the bike frame itself.  Thus, a rack supposedly built for about ten bikes is really only effective for two.

Also spotted on Orange were some parking meter enhancements that make it somewhat less awkward to turn them into impromptu bike racks.


Not as snazzy as the other designs, but the oval provides lots of potential angles and points of frame attachment.  Here's another "enhancement" that appears to have been part of some other era's rack experiment:


Need to look a little closer:



It looks to be designed to provide a slot to fit the fork into when leaning the bike against the meter, but I'm really not sure what use that is.  Could just be a vestigial  leftover of something that was once useful.

Of all the varieties of racks we have all over downtown, this organic "rack" is the style I have probably used the most over the years:



Useless for a U-lock, but (easily cut) cable locks can reach around.

Leaving the Emerald City again, I spied these on a recent ride through Balboa Park:


Classy!  Plus, I like the logo built into the wheel.  An array of these filling a bike corral with a nice Coronado logo, could go a long way toward approaching that whole unity and style thing I alluded to above.  

Finally, I give you this remnant which can be spotted in a few places on Coronado sidewalks:



Pretty nearly useless, while doing the near-impossible:  making the bike corrals look attractive in comparison.

Now it is your solemn duty as bike enthusiasts and citizens to flood the Transportation Commission with your own views on how bike racks should be deployed in Coronado and/or your neighborhood/community.  Tell them The Bikeist sent you . . .

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  5. I personally don’t find most of it ugly, though I guess it's a matter of personal tastes. I think it’s actually nice that the place is catering to the parking needs of bike enthusiasts. But yeah, I guess it wouldn’t hurt if they make a more visually appealing bike coral, since some of the designs are undeniably awful.

    Ora Grant @ 2Quik Carbon Technology

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