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Each parking meter Vancouver removes means one less place to lock up a bike!

March 25, 2021

Newly-installed pay station in 1400 block of West 10th, next to the remains of a parking meter it replaces. And in the distance a bike locked to a sign pole.

As the City of Vancouver slowly replaces 11,000 parking meters with an unspecified lesser number of pay stations it hast to be said that the city is also, in effect, eliminating 11,000 bike racks—at a time when COVID-19 is driving a huge increase in bike sales and cycling!

Cyclists have always used parking meter poles as ad-hoc places to lock up their bikes but no one will be locking their bicycles up to the boxy new pay stations.

So unless the city commits to adding a new bike rack for every subtracted parking meter this big changeover will result in a disastrous reduction in the number of places where cyclists can securely lock their bicycles.

Talk about unintended consequences

There was something noteworthy about this meterless pole I saw Tuesday in the 1400 block of West 10th.

I saw the potential impact of the great meter takeaway on Vancouver cyclists neatly illustrated in the 1400 block of West 10th Avenue Tuesday (March 23).

There in all its boxy, sparkling glory sat a brand new parking pay station. It was flanked by the two parking meter poles (sans their parking meters) that the pay station was replacing.

Well, that’s progress for you, I thought.

But there was more. One of the meterless poles was affixed with a note in black marker on brown kraft paper, which read simply:

“Your bike is over there”

And lo and behold over there—being a few metres east along the sidewalk—sat a bicycle locked to a parking sign pole.

The bike I imagine workers moved from the parking meter pole.

“Uhhh,” I thought audibly.

The picture that finally emerged in my mind’s eye was of workers confronted by the problem of a bike being locked to one of the parking meter poles that they were tasked with beheading. The problem being that if they simply removed the parking meter that would leave nothing to stop a would-be thief from just lifting the bike and its lock off of the pole.

So, rather than do their job and leave the bike unprotected, the hypothetical city workers in my imagination took the time not only to take the parking meter off the pole, they also took the bike and its U-lock off the pole.

Poles apart. The beheaded parking meter pole, the new pay station and the removed and re-locked bike.

They then carried the bike over to the easterly-located sign pole, which they unbolted from its sidewalk-mounted steel sleeve. Then one of the workers held the bike so that once the sign pole was re-threaded and bolted in its sleeve the bike’s U-lock would be securely around the sign pole.

That’s my guess, anyway.

I’m also guessing that the changeover from parking meters to pay stations could result in the unintended consequence of vastly reducing the number of convenient places in Vancouver where a cyclist can lock up their bikes. And this in turn could have the knock- effect of discouraging overall bicycle ridership.

At the same time it could also encourage more grab-and-dash bike thefts—by forcing cyclists to risk locking their bikes freestanding while they patronize stores.

If the elimination of parking meters does lead to an increase in bike thefts it will be ironic, given that coin theft (using magnets) is one of the main reasons given for getting rid of parking meters in the first place.

Ironic perhaps but not unforeseeable.

Hopefully the city has foreseen this and is already planning to more than make up for the loss of bicycle parking caused by the loss of parking meters. Click the images to enlarge them.

From → Personal

  1. In Toronto, they replaced the meters with a locking ring for bikes. Maybe Vancouver could implement something similar?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. danneau2016 permalink

    Great read. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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