Is this the weirdest bike rack in Seattle? + Metro’s new bike lockers cost a nickel an hour

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After years of biking by these strange contraptions under I-5 at NE 65th St and Ravenna Boulevard (AKA the Green Lake Park & Ride), I finally decided to give them a try.

Clearly designed as mid- or long-term bike parking for commuters (for example, Sound Transit 542 riders), the racks are designed to secure your wheels and your frame with just a padlock or u-lock.

They were manufactured by bike rack company Graber and dubbed “The Bike Bank.” It takes a couple minutes to figure out the first time, and I’m not positive they fit all bikes, but here’s a quick walkthrough posted on the top of the rack:

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First you pull the arm back so you can put your bike in place:

IMG_1439 You have to fidget with your wheels a bit to close the contraption, since rods need to be able to fit through the spokes in order to secure your wheels. If you don’t mind getting spiders in your helmet, you can also lock it up in the box before closing the top and hinging the contraption back together.

IMG_1440The last step is to secure the rack with your lock. I used my u-lock, and it worked like a charm. However, I’m not sure beefier u-locks would fit:

IMG_1441And voila! All locked up.

Judging by the relatively low usage I’ve observed, the racks are not the most successful bike parking initiative. For one, they may just be a little too intimidating or confusing for most people. In fact, I saw several bikes simply locked to nearby street sign poles. There are also a set of the newer style of long-term bike parking solution popping up at transit stations across the city and county: Bike lockers.

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Speaking of bike lockers, Metro just installed a ton more of them. They cost a nickel an hour (plus $20 up front for the card) and can now be found at:

- Aurora Village Transit Center
– Eastgate P&R
– Issaquah Highlands P&R
– Kenmore P&R
– Northgate Transit Center
– Renton Transit Center
– S. Kirkland P&R ( to open when new parking garage opens in August)
– S. Renton P&R
– S. Sammamish P&R
-Tukwila P&R

What do you think of the Bike Bank? And on the topic of bike lockers, would you pay a nickel an hour for an extra-secure bike parking solution?

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25 Responses to Is this the weirdest bike rack in Seattle? + Metro’s new bike lockers cost a nickel an hour

  1. Max HB says:

    I have always hated those racks. I used to live near there and gave them a try on multiple occasions. With smaller frames (around 50 cm), they don’t even seem to work right. I say rip em’ out and replace them with something useful: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/250076

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      I say you come back to us and do it yourself, traitor! (hope the Greater Richmond Bicycle Coalition is going well!)

  2. Al Dimond says:

    I’d pay for on-demand bike lockers near the Montlake Flyer Stop. The extra security would be worth it at a high bike-theft location, but since I don’t go through there daily it wouldn’t make sense to rent one of the existing lockers.

  3. Steve Campbell says:

    Northwest Hospital used to have these on their campus a long time ago. They were a slightly different model with a round cage around where you put your lock that was only large enough for a padlock. And theoretically not large enough to fit bolt cutters or anything else that you could use to cut a lock off.

    I liked them at the time because back then a cable and padlock were state of the art for locking your bike. So these meant I could leave my cable at home and just bring the padlock.

    The other thing I always liked was they held the bike upright and since there’s only one bike per rack, someone else couldn’t come along and knock your bike around locking or unlocking their bike.

    But, they’re fussy to get the bike into and you always have to close them slowly in case everything isn’t lined up quite right. Also, they take a lot of space, and we all have u-locks now. I’d also bet they’re quite a bit more expensive than other racks.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      I have a call into the company that answered the 800 number listed on the instruction sheet. I don’t believe they are made any more, but I’m gonna try to confirm that. I found an old sales sheet online that had it listed at $350 (just the rack, not counting install costs or anything), which isn’t so bad.

    • asdf says:

      The thought of trying to hurry up and get racks like that to behave before your bus leaves just sounds awful. I’m sure it’s happened where people in a hurry to avoid missing their bus left without properly securing their bike, and then had it get stolen.

  4. biliruben says:

    The long-term bike rentals never made much sense to me. A lot of space used and infrastructure investment for one person’s individual little garage, which I’m guessing were empty more than half the time.

    I’d be much more inclined to use the on-demand, but in the end, I really just want a roof, so my bike will stay dry. I’m not fool enuf to lock up (or own, for that matter) a bike that’s worth so much I need to worry so much about it getting stolen I sacrifice a portion of the convenience of owning and riding a bike in the first place – you don’t have to worry about parking and you can generally lock it up at exactly your destination.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      I’m gonna go out on a limb and suggest that bike share will dramatically increase demand for secure bike parking at transit stations. You bike from home to a station with an express transit route of some kind, lock your bike, ride transit downtown or to the UW or wherever, then use bike share to get to your end point. Way easier than trying to bring your own bike with you on the bus or (worse) light rail, only, to have to lug it into your office or lock it up in a parking garage. Or, if you’re going shopping downtown, this means you don’t have to lock your bike up to a sidewalk rack in the worst bike theft area in Seattle.

      • biliruben says:

        Yeah, you might be right. Because it’s on the Burke, and the routes downtown are, um…, less than ideal, I’m guessing the Husky stop on U-link will have huge demand for this sort of usage.

      • asdf says:

        While putting a bikeshare station at the Husky Link Station seems like it should be a no-brainer, none of the plans I’ve seen have included it.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        There are no specific bike share station location plans yet, but the U District will be part of the initial launch. I would assume Husky Stadium Station would get one, at least by 2016…

  5. amcnabb says:

    On demand secure parking is the best news ever! I would definitely prefer the lockers to the racks, though, to also guard saddle/bags/etc. My biggest deterrent from bike commuting is a lack of secure bike parking, and all the park-and-rides bike lockers have required you to rent a particular locker at a particular location. I need a spot close to errands, meetings, events, which are always different locations. I’d gladly pay as much to securely park my bike as I would pay for a meter for my car. (That being said, there should still be some “regular”, free bikes nearby for those who don’t have the $ for secure ones).

    • Gary says:

      I’d use on-demand bike parking, even if I had to pay for it. It’s just that I don’t need it often enough to sign up for a bike locker full time. And yes, leaving my bike at a Park and ride to have it’s parts stripped off is way less than ideal. And I used to think that a junker would solve that problem, but I’ve seen so many junkers with just the U-Lock and parts of the frame in place, everything else stripped off. At least with an enclosed box, theives have less of an idea of what’s inside.

    • asdf says:

      Question: do you have to bring coins, or can you pay electronically? It’s the carrying of nickels around that I object to – the payment itself, I think is great, as it discourages overuse (e.g. use of the lockers for long-term storage, rather than commuting).

  6. Bellinghammer says:

    I like these new on-demand lockers a lot, but isn’t a little sad that the first time Metro charges for parking (however small) is for bikes?

    • Al Dimond says:

      Haha, so true, so true. I suppose part of the justification is the difficulty of enforcing restrictions against long-term parking with bikes, which are largely not licensed.

      • Gary says:

        They could do the “same as for cars” and chalk the lock, cut it and impound the bike. No “license” required.

      • Orv says:

        UW uses zip-tie tags, instead of chalk, but same concept.

  7. Matthew Hendrickson says:

    I saw very similar bike racks in front of a grocery store in Los Angeles, 30 years ago. The rack made sense, because all you needed to carry was a small padlock, and bikes at that time had a pretty standard frame design. I have no idea why a grocery store would be so bike friendly in such a bike un-friendly time and place.

  8. Bob says:

    Here’s my vote for craziest bike rack. It’s slightly NSFW — apologies for that, but at the same time all I did was take a photo of a public bike lock. It’s up near NW 90th St & 15th Ave NW.

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/63500_10151453784583001_822024781_n.jpg

    It’s supposed to be a baseball and a bat, but that’s not what 95% of people think at first… :)

  9. Sarah says:

    There are banks of free bike lockers here and there. I often use ones in parking lots in Northgate and Mapleleaf. The only problem with honor-system lockers is people thinking they “own” the locker, and leaving padlocks on “their” empty locker for months, taking the locker out of use. Paying 5 cents an hour would certainly cut down on that issue.

  10. Scott says:

    Metro in DC used to have those racks, oh, lessee — 24 years ago. I liked them, but they did take some getting used to. They worked with just a padlock.

  11. Andreas says:

    There’s a bank of Bike Banks on the UW campus, under the eave on the south side of Allen Library. If I was leaving my bike on campus for a long time this was invariably where I’d park: centrally located, covered, and seemingly very secure. I’ve always wished there were more of them around, though other than UW, I think the only places I’ve ever seen them are park & rides. Space and cost, presumably, limits them to these sort of institutional/parking-lot settings.

  12. Pingback: County’s new on-demand bike lockers will secure more bikes, more of the time | Seattle Bike Blog

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