Sunday, May 26, 2013

Why "wheelbender racks" suck

We are 13 years into the 21st Century, so it is hard to believe that a bicycle rack that has been outdated and essentially useless since the 1970's is still such a popular choice.  Unfortunately, when people who know very little to nothing about the end-user needs of cyclists are charged with providing for cyclists, thing like "wheelbender racks" are what cyclists get.  The rack shown below is all too common in New Jersey.  It is very inexpensive and that is clearly what drives the decision to buy them. That that particular rack can be disassembled with regular tools, is even more disconcerting.

Frank Warnock, a leading bicycle advocate in neighboring Delaware, took a look at the problem with wheelbender style bicycle racks in the below post from his independent blog DELAWARE BIKES.  Take a look at his video and his analysis.  Spot on!

I just got off the phone with LAB on Friday asking what - if anything - is being done to obsolete Grid, Toaster, Schoolyard, Wheelbender, etc. bike parking systems. The answer is nothing really. The League has, in the past, encouraged manufacturers to refrain from selling this worse than useless design, but suppliers are driven by profits, not what's in the best interest of bicycling.

What's needed is an industry-wide handshake ... an agreement to phase this thing out. It's an advocate's worst nightmare when, finally, bike parking is achieved in a key retail or public location, only to find they went with something that might as well negate the effort. Unfortunately, to really get it right, we have the added responsibility to educate the buyer about what works and what doesn't.

Above and below: Bikes in Newark parked anywhere but in the rack!

All it takes is for your bike to fall over, or someone to knock it over. Since the wheel is trapped between the vertical rods, and is the only thing holding the bike upright, it can be easily damaged or bent beyond repair. It is also difficult to lock a bike properly, through the frame, not just the wheel.