August 18th, 2011

3 take-home lessons from the US

Everything is a religion in America. I can imagine apathy societies having annual meetings and handing out leaflets. Given this proclivity for zeal among some 300,000,000 well-to-do folk, should we be surprised to learn some of their buildings for bikes are exemplary on many fronts? I'm not. I've spent enough time over there to know their smart folk well and truly make up for the dumbos, who drive around Texas, invent things like Hooters, and clutter up Florence. So here are three best practice examples, courtesy of our overlords and natural superiors, that I suggest we accept with due grace. I'm not saying you won't find earlier examples of each practice elsewhere. I'm just saying, these are top notch.

From left: eyes on the bike racks; free public work-stand; bike tracks on both sides of all stairs.

Put eyes on the bike racks. No thief will tamper with these bikes, knowing the owner could well be sitting at one of the dining tables on the other side of that glass. Even if I had business a block away, I would chose to chain my bike to these racks outside a Wholefoods supermarket in Boston.
Provide public work-stands. In the future, work-stands with tools dangling from wires will be as common as places to refill our water bottles. The friendly gesture to cyclists pictured above, is at the door of Frank Gehry's Stata Center at MIT, Boston.
Provide bike tracks on BOTH sides of stairs. Most people feel comfortable walking their bike on one side, not the other. It follows that stairs will need ramps on both sides, not one. These stairs at the McDonalds Cycle Center in Chicago, have long treads and low risers, making them especially easy to walk a bike up or down. In high traffic areas, stairs need to be split into two lanes (one up, one down), and include two more tracks running down the stair's center—that last one, a lesson from Holland.

Care to add to this list? I would love to hear your suggestions! They needn't be from god's country necessarily either.

p.s. My sincerest apologies to all my American friends, for ingratiating myself to weaklings with chips on their shoulders, at your expense.