Bike racks. There are good ones, bad ones and then really really bad ones. Once a bad one is purchased and installed somewhere in Chittenden County, then it will be here forever. Forever you say? Won’t it be replaced with a good one at some point as awareness grows? No. For every good rack we install as a replacement to a bad rack, an improvement to our bicycle culture, it is very difficult to send that bad rack to the metal recyclers.
And so the perpetual cycle of bad bike rack gifting continues. As UVM improves their racks and sunsets the old ladder or comb racks, they have lovingly donated them to organizations that do not have any racks, such as the 6-8 racks that now grace Centennial Field for the VT Lake Monsters. Is it not better to gift to an organization that has NO rack than to get rid of it completely? The answer is likely yes, but the root cause may be the purchase of the bad rack in the first place.
Racks are not cheap, but they ARE important. When we buy and display a sub-standard rack, we are telling the world that THAT is what an acceptable bike rack is. Those who do not ride a bike, see the proliferation of ladder and wave racks around town and may think to themselves “that is a bike rack” and “that bike rack is functional for bikers because I see it everywhere”. It is not until an in-depth discussion of WHY that rack style does not actually work for people that ride a bike that it becomes clear. There are good bike racks out there, but we need to shift the needle.
Nic Anderson is the Transportation Coordinator at Champlain College where he supports college efforts to increase bike/walk mode share and reduce the numbers of vehicles driving to campus.