Bike parking in Wellington: it’s boring

Bike racks at Lyall Bay. Image credit: Barry Bryant

It’s not that easy to design a functional, interesting bike rack that comes at a reasonable cost. The standard ‘staples’ we see around Wellington are functional but…they’re kinda boring and I have to say I don’t think they add much to the cityscape. In fact I’ll go further than that. They’re drab and plain, and I say we see them but actually we don’t. When I mention the bike racks on Willis Street near the corner with Manners, even my Willis Street-riding friends go “Eh? Where?” Riding down Lambton Quay I have to search for them, even when I know roughly where they are. The design and colour just aren’t that visible.

There are plenty of examples of elegant or interesting and practical racks. This one made me think we could do something New Zealand-based, with koru, for example. Or how about these? OK they’re not all at the high end of functional, but what about those ‘bedsteads’?! Awesome! (And how much better would those heart racks be if they were red?!)

Here are some examples of the things we could do.

Image credit: bikerakk.co.nz

It would be great to see a few more Bikerakks around town. I love using them because they’re kind to my paintwork. They can be used for advertising too, bringing the cost down or providing a revenue stream.

This bike rack is outside an optometrists. There must be plenty of scope for this kind of inventive advertising in a bike rack.

David Byrne shoe. Image credit: By Jim.henderson, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

OK so it’s not the most practical, but it adds to the cityscape and calls attention to itself as bicycle parking, and that’s something I’d like to see more of around here.

Yes, I’d like to see more colourful, inventive bike racks around Wellington. But being practical, what can we do with the ones we have? Well, what about adding some colour? Imagine the racks in that photo at the top painted in rainbow colours. Or hot Miami colours. Or alternating red white and blue. Anything! Because if it doesn’t happen, I’ll be seriously tempted to yarnbomb the lot.

EDIT: I should add that I like the racks at the Courtenay/Taranaki corner. But for ages I didn’t use them because I thought they’d damage my bike. Turns out they’re fine.

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7 thoughts on “Bike parking in Wellington: it’s boring

  1. Hils

    There’s a brilliant one at the Chaffers New World. Looks like the black bike shaped one (above) and has advertising on the ‘back wheel’. There was talk about the peeps who made them making more – funding dependant. I think they were made from recycled tyres. I’d love to see more of those around town!

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    1. Simon Kennett

      They’re rolling those out in Hastings now. But Hastings is a well-funded ‘model community’. In these parts the budgets are limited, so you have to ask yourself, do you want 10 more standard bike racks or 3 new arty ones? Do you want a low-maintenance black or a high maintenance red colour? Of course, if the money comes out of a public sculpture fund rather than the fund that fixes dangerous grates and pot holes, it’s a completely different story.

      According to the survey CAN did last year, the Sheffield stand (shown in Barry’s pic) is the most popular style at Wellington region train stations.

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      1. Budgets may be limited in these parts but I heard the WCC cycling budget didn’t get used up last year. If that’s true then I’d like coloured ones, please.

        Plus if actual cyclists aren’t seeing the racks, something extra is clearly required.

        I also believe councils have a role to play in promoting a cycling culture, and providing fun, interesting bike racks is a nicely non-controversial way to do that.

        Pot holes and grates would come out of the roading maintenance budget, surely?

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      2. Simon Kennett

        I think the budgets are split into capital expenditiure and operating expenditure.

        As I understand it, the WCC cap ex cycling budget can only be spent if the NZTA share is secured. NZTA will fund stuff that has a good BCR and fits in with their priorities (of safety and congestion relief). So finding big bucks for flash cycle racks that help to promote cycling culture may be hard, even if the WCC cap ex cycling budget is underspent. It would certainly be easier if the WCC cycling budget wasn’t tied to approval of cycling projects by NZTA.

        The maintenance of cycle racks and cycle paths is a different story. I didn’t mean to suggest there was competition between funding new racks vs fixing pot holes, rather that their will be competition between maintaining cycle racks vs maintaining other cycling stuff (like pot holes in cycle paths, or grates – it’s all transport op ex money). A light-coloured bike rack will attract taggers; a rubber cycle rack will attract pyromaniacs – these concerns will influence the decisions made by those officials who choose bike racks.

        Also, cyclists do see the Sheffield racks and they perform just fine. Which brings me back to the conclusion that funding for Byrne-type racks would need to be part-funded by some sort of public art fund. At the moment, transport funding is stretched thin and has higher priorities (like the RONs, for example).

        Don’t shoot me! I’m just the messenger : )

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      3. I maintain that the bike racks aren’t that visible. I’ve yet to talk to someone who knows where the Willis/Manners bike racks are when I’ve raised it. I’ve even ridden straight past the Lyall Bay ones myself – while riding on the footpath.

        Given that the best way to improve cyclists safety is to increase the numbers (see the graph at http://cyclingauckland.co.nz/front/2011/06/safer-cycling-were-nearly-there/), having visible cycling infrastructure looks to me to be a great fit for the NZTA’s priorities.

        And if cycling culture also increases safety (and I argue that it does), having interesting racks makes even more sense because it meets the twin objectives of culture and infrastructure.

        Sure, art racks would be great. But in the meantime all I’m asking for is fun, bright coloured racks that can be seen easily, don’t scratch my bike and add to cyclists’ safety. A bit of extra maintenance is an acceptable cost for that.

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  2. Wiebke

    Is this article serious? Complaining about bike racks being boring rather than the fact that there are hardly any in Wellington?! I prefer the functional but boring ones and you don’t need them to be red or highly visible if they are everywhere you need them.

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