Following an early trial period that transformed 200 decommissioned single-space parking meter poles into bicycle parking, New York City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) will be retrofitting the remaining 12,000 meter poles into bike racks to provide reliable bicycle parking throughout the city.
Bike parking has been on the decline in New York since the city switched from single-space meters to a multi-space meter system. The new meters arguably help optimize street parking for cars by ending rigid parking space delineation, but – where the poles of the old meters provided an abundance of easy-to-find bike parking throughout the city – the multi-space system offers less poles to lock up to.
The DOT has installed more than 5,000 new bike racks during the period since decommissioning, but have failed to keep pace with its rapid meter removal rate.
To provide more bike parking instead of less, the DOT retrofit combines two separate campaigns (removing old parking meters and installing new bike racks) into one single effort: modifying the old poles into new bike parking.
Echoing the award-winning design of the DOT’s hoop-shaped bike racks, the meter pole retrofit will be designed and manufactured by Long Island-based Louis Barbato Landscaping. The design mounts a simple, easy-to-lock-to-ring on the old meter poles, making economical use of secure, sledgehammer-proof steel, presumably paid for by city coffers as the old poles were installed in the early 1950s.
While we continue to scout out inventive solutions to bike parking needs, the DOT’s sweeping meter-to-bike-parking retrofit deserves attention for its resourcefulness.
Building on the strengths of its existing resources, the DOT project breathes new life into what would otherwise be considered junk, distributing easy-to-find bike parking throughout the city’s neighborhoods and retail districts with minimal budget expeditures.