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Spotted on Dexter: What do you think of these bike racks with maps?

Photo by @familyride

Madi with Family Ride spotted this bike rack at the under-construction Union apartment building at Dexter and Aloha (yes, the one that sometimes closes the bike lane or puts fences in it).

I can’t think of another public bike map in the city. It seems like a great idea, both as a way to help residents and visitors navigate by bike and as a tool to attract passersby.

I wouldn’t be surprised if its an idea that catches on. Hopefully, they will keep it updated as annual versions of the map are released.

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What do you think? Will it catch on?

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28 responses to “Spotted on Dexter: What do you think of these bike racks with maps?”

  1. That’s pretty cool! I wish there were more maps available around town.

  2. Nick

    It is unnecessary because now many of us carry our smart phone.

    1. Gary

      One day last summer I met a pair of cycling tourists without proper cycling maps. And me out walking didn’t have one to give them. So having some of these maps around town, with directions on how to get to the bicycle alliance office and pick up a map would have been very helpful to them.

      It would be nice if these were at key locations, say King Street station, both ends of the LINK tunnel, at the Grayhound station etc.

  3. Joel S.

    Nice! Probably will get all beat up from bikes rubbing on it and the inevitable graffiti and stickers though. Prove me wrong Seattle!

  4. Peri Hartman

    Bad. Although I like the idea of having a map, putting it in the bike rack will make it difficult to thread one’s cable through. Now there isn’t room to get a wrist through and reach around. Especially if there are other bikes already on the rack.

    1. Becky

      Agreed – this is an excellent idea but I feel like the placement actually would end up impeding my ability to use my u-lock to actually lock my bike there.

    2. Paul

      Agreed. Seems like putting the map higher would make the rack more useful as a rack while also putting the map closer to eye level. They already have some wavy arms up there, why not use them for the map?

  5. Joel S.

    I just realized it’s a coffee cup with steam. Won’t it be hard to read the map if a bike is parked there blocking the view?

  6. merlin

    I would be happier if the various maps put up around town just included easy-to-decipher information for people who ride bikes. Best (worst!) example: the maps at the Light Rail stations. At the Stadium station, there’s a little map of the immediate area that shows the SODO trail (parallel to the Light Rail, and really tricky to find if you don’t already know it’s there!!) but doesn’t show the bike route that connects to it coming from the International District. Another map, on a big round kiosk just outside the station, doesn’t show bike routes at all. That said, I like the CONCEPT of a bike rack with a map, but the execution looks less than perfect for the reasons already mentioned.

  7. merlin

    and another problem with bike maps in general is that it’s very hard to figure out from a map whether the suggested route is a nice quiet neighborhood street or a major arterial full of trucks and buses zooming by at 60mph. SDOT puts bike lanes and sharrows in some pretty scary places.

    1. Gordon Padelford

      Ditto. Routing people onto major arterials because they have sharrows is not a good way to build ridership.

      1. Eli

        I’m still not sure what our bike maps are intended to be good for — other than convincing to more risk-averse people like myself that Seattle doesn’t have safe places to ride a bicycle, and I should go back to an elliptical trainer at the gym.

  8. Gordon Padelford

    A few thoughts:
    1) Cool!
    2) Nice coffee reference
    3) Should be a QR code for smartphone enabled people to download a digital version
    4) Looks like attaching your bike to the ..er.. bike rack would be difficult
    5) Incorporating art into bike racks is a fun and practical two-for-one. Let’s keep doing this

  9. Andres

    I’d prefer to see a Bike Rack Etiquitte sign instead of a bike map (I find SDOT’s bike map useless). Something reminding people that you should be able to fit *4* bikes on a bike rack, not 2. One of my pet peeves, especially in U-District.


    1. Andreas

      Might I suggest directing your full-rack annoyance not at your fellow cyclists, but at SDOT, which chooses to install racks whose designed capacity is in fact 2 bikes, not 4. (If 54″ rail racks have the same capacity as 24″ inverted-u racks, why bother with the 54″ racks at all?)

      Of course, it wouldn’t be an issue if they simply installed more racks, but even when they deign to do that, half the time they install them like this, with the racks too close together and with a utility pole or landscaping getting in the way of properly locking to the ends.

      As with many bike-oriented projects by SDOT, I often wonder if they ever even bothered to ask a frequent cyclist about practicality of rack design and location before they made their decisions.

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        Really, we need to be moving toward bike parking corrals in every business district. Solves all these problems :-)

  10. Joseph Singer

    It’s supposed to be “cool”, but all I can see is that it has limited capability as far as a bike rack. At most you can use it for two bikes. The rest of the steel in the unit is a waste as far as I can see.

  11. basketlover

    QR code would be great.

    Looks like a good 4″ gap on the sides and the top, plenty to reach through.

    Teflon coating for easier graffiti clean up. The business or property owner will do most of the maintenance.

    Regional map on one side more localized on the other.

    Maps are good for those of us with rotary pocket phones.

    4 bikes to a rack is why I tend not to use them. I kinda like my bike not being accidentally dinged/scratched.

    The business going in probably paid for the rack and paid the City a permit fee so be sure to thank them for making our City just that much better.

    1. Peri Hartman

      I’ll go try it. It’s near where I live.

    2. Orv

      Yeah, when I use a rack with other bikes on it, I’m always afraid of ticking someone off by accidentally dinging their expensive track bike. It’s like parallel parking in front of a Ferrari.

  12. This rack does not look like it is well secured to the ground. Those small pavers will come right up with a good push on that rack.


  13. Tom Fucoloro

    Wow, I was not really expecting so many negative reviews of this thing! I really like it. There looks like plenty of space to get cables and u-locks around the poles (an issue with other bike racks, especially many “art racks.”

    And while the map has its issues, the idea of posting the city’s current bike map is a great idea. It’s not the bike rack’s fault if the map is not great. And if they keep it updated, then that’s just one more reason for us to convince the city to make a more useful one next year.

    Plus, considering how annoying the construction work for that building has been (closing the brand new bike lane, etc), it’s good to see bikes are on their radar.

    1. Kirk From Ballard

      I like it too. Something is better than nothing. Moving in the right direction.

  14. Peri Hartman

    Ok, just got back from checking out this rack. It’s probably fine for just one bike. It is not possible to get a U-lock through the gap (between panel and tubes) from the front side (the side your bike’s on). If there’s only one bike, you can push your lock through from the back side just fine.

    Also, if your handlebars are in the mid area, with rear tire extending beyond rack, the panel forces the bike away from the rack – because the handlebars hit the panel. This reduces movement that would otherwise allow another rider to wiggle your bike to make room for his. Similar problem for your seat, depending on how high it is.

    The coffee cup handle is nice, though. Easy to hook up to that.

    No vinyl covering to protect your bike, either.

    Finally, the map is too low to easily read. At least for me, I would have to squat down to read it. Obviously, it would be obscured by parked bikes.

    So, overall, not too bad. But it would definitely be better without the panel. And even better to stick to the conventional U rack with two horizontal bars, both below normal seat level. Nice try, but I hope we don’t see more of these.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Interesting. Thanks for the report back!

  15. I didn’t mention this when I posted the photo (because we were in the middle of Cranksgiving and a police officer was trying to wave us through the intersection), but there are two racks and the other one doesn’t have a map in the middle. I bet a bunch of regular bikes could fit on that one.

  16. Sarah

    Wow. The negative comments are astounding. If I ever own a business, remind me not to buy any artsy or informative bike racks and install them for ingrate cyclists to metaphorically piss all over.

    1. Andreas

      I think the lesson here is that if you ever own a business and plan to buy some artsy and informative bike racks, you might want to ask some cyclists how informative and useful they’ll actually be before you waste your money. If it’s not functional, what exactly are cyclists supposed to be grateful for?

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