The city is building some new bike parking/shelter things. Well, they’re actually built by Cemusa, a Spanish company that makes “street furniture”, which means bus shelters and newsstands, not sofas and credenzas.
The Department of Transportation, in partnership with The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, is holding a design competition for outdoor and indoor bicycle racks, and I have agreed to judge the entries. The current standard is the U- or M-shaped steel square tube mounted on sidewalks here and there. For me, these racks work pretty well in isolated and lightly trafficked spots, though they could be more fun. Suggestions below:
The real problem seems to lie at places where many riders congregate: movie theaters, offices, music clubs, schools, stadiums and arenas. A couple of U- or M-racks won’t suffice in those places. We riders end up locking up to any bit of scaffolding or parking sign within a block of the location. The issue then, seems less about the shape of the rack—we can borrow models from Europe, Japan and elsewhere—and more a question of where to put it.
It wouldn’t be right to block the sidewalk with some huge contraption, with people going to and fro. In some cases—like around offices or schools—there is often a plaza large enough to house multiple bike racks, but this is not always the case. I would suggest taking ONE parking space from the street around these potentially heavily trafficked sites and devoting it to bicycle parking instead. The DOT has already tested this at the Bedford L stop in Williamsburg: by removing three parking spaces, they were able to create enough parking for thirty bicycles. (See here and here for more info). The rack could be something similar to the one by Cemusa in the photo above, with salable ad space so it would pay for itself. One parking spot wouldn’t be nearly enough, but it would be a start.