Bike Rack FAIL

On the Bits and Bikes blog, Edwin Watkeys uncovers a major issue with the new Creative Metalworks bike racks that are showing up in cities across the country. I like the fact that cities are repurposing parking meters as bike racks, but for reasons you’ll understand after watching his video, it’s probably best to avoid these until the issues are resolved.

Bits and Bikes

12 Responses to “Bike Rack FAIL”

  • Steven Vance says:

    In Chicago, after the Mayor sold (through a 75-year lease) the parking meters and the parking spaces to a bank consortium, the 36,000 removed bike parking spaces (the meters) were replaced with…nothing!

  • Moopheus says:

    Well, that does seem pretty lame. We have bike circles on meters around here, but they’re thick pipes welded to the meter poles; they aren’t going to move.

  • AndyN says:

    U.S. Patent Pending! (Here’s hoping somebody steals the patent application from an insecure mailbox.)

  • Ben says:

    Here in Belgium they have a similar problem in Antwerp. The only difference is that these things were actually meant to be bike racks…

  • Teddy says:

    I’m the type of person to look around for a legitimate bicycle lock because I’m under the impression that they are usually better to lock up with than a parking meter, pole, etc.
    This really surprises me though! I would never have thought to check a locking post like that! Normally I check the bolts, and if thieves have used stickers to cover up where they cut the post, but this is a whole different story!
    I did have one small question though, I hear all the time to not lock up to parking meters, but I don’t really see why not. Could anyone help clarify?

  • Christopher Gagnon says:

    > it’s probably best to avoid these until the issues are resolved.

    This seems an unfortunate situation–especially since the Seattle Department of Transportation already resolve the issues five years ago, working with Creative Metalworks to refine the design of this rack to make it more secure:

    Honestly, I’m kind of surprised the company didn’t incorporate these changes into the basic design–why not make these essential improvements standard?

    Unfortunately, no universal minimum standards for bike parking fixtures exist, so buyers really need to do some homework if they want to ensure they’re choosing good products.

  • Lee Trampleasure says:

    Is the video working on anyone else’s browsers? I’ve tried Firefox, Opera, and even the dreaded IE, and all I get on each page is a video type image with the “start” triangle, but when I click I don’t get any video.

  • Alan says:


    You’ll need to click over to the Bits & Bikes website (the link is at the bottom of the post). The video is hosted locally on his server, so what you’re seeing above is a screenshot, not the video itself. Sorry for the confusion.


  • Bee says:

    @Christopher Gagnon

    unfortunately not all of the Seattle incarnations of these racks are safe either. On a weeklong visit to Seattle in August I noticed the design appeared flimsy so I habitually grabbed and shook the racks whenever I saw them while walking down the street in Capitol Hill. While a few were rock solid, most were loose enough to wobble in my hands and one of them shimmied up the post just like in the video.

  • Moopheus says:

    Chris—There are a couple of potential problems with locking to meters. One is that in many places, it is simply not allowed by local ordinance. This, obviously, does not actually stop anyone, but it could make your bike susceptible to removal by police. The other is that it is not necessarily very secure. Especially with single-head meters if you have a wide lock, it may be possible to get the lock over the head of the meter. The two-head meters are better for this.

    As a side note: here in Cambridge I have begun to see parking meters that take credit cards.

  • vanessa says:

    this is how we do it in okaland:

    It is, of course, up to the the rider to make sure that their lock can’t slide over the top of the meter.

  • Christopher Gagnon says:

    @Vanessa: we’ve done some of that here in Chicago too. In Chicago, parking meters were officially recognized as legal bike parking spaces. I’ve not personally seen a U-lock wide enough to fit (with bike frame) over a meter head, so the remaining meter poles with stickered meter heads seem reasonably secure–much more so than regular sign poles. Not as good as inverted U-racks, however!

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