Bike Parking is Complicated?
February 09, 2022
Tomorrow on UC Davis campus and at the monthly meeting of the Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission (BTSSC) a new shared public bicycle lock will be introduced, followed by pilots and local research...
I'VE not seen the lock in use and the presentation doesn't contains imagery that's clearly actual photography - and not the much more helpful video - but for now have comments and questions for the lock developers, City and UCD partners....
- The BTSSC and other complementary bodies have not created a new strategy for bicycle security, have not asked to do so, and have not been asked to do so.
- City of Davis Staff are implementing new programs using City property without Council approval.
- The locking system seems over-complicated, dependent on smart phones, Cloud-connectivity and electrical power supply (both on the locks and system servers) to function properly, or at all.
- It’s not clear that the City and UC Davis c
- The promises of resistance to defeat and plans for distribution seem exaggerated, and it’s possible that the City would have to pay for it despite being instrumental in development of a commercial product. If the project goes forward, its users in Davis should not have to pay for the system though user fees, or indirectly. The City is looking into this, but it's not clear if the ROAM creators will take responsibility for it, or other sources will be sought.
- The system does not work with non-Lightning Bolt (LB) racks (unless there’s a variant for other modern types).
- Aside from the system used on UCD campus, it’s only for racks on City property, this leaves out a tremendous number of LB-equipped parking spaces, many of which present significant opportunity for theft due to lack of supervision or supplemental security (e.g. bicycle rooms). It’s important to note all of these properties are in fact semi-public and still required to observe local regulations for bicycle storage.
- It’s not clear if the system will actually be available on semi-public property. In some cases this will mean that ROAM-equipped and non-equipped racks will be in close proximity. This seems to be a direct contradiction of the “everyone” claims of the concept’s authors.
- If the system IS available for use on semi-public property but only via opt-in, i.e. by choice of the property’s managers or owners, it may further widen the gulf between the haves and have nots in bicycle parking in Davis, as there are a significant number of (improvised) parking spaces at commercial properties and residences which have no racks, LB or otherwise. This is in direct contradiction of the authors' claimed benefits and violates equity principles for Davis as lower quality bicycle-parking is likely over-represented at more modest rental properties (This would be solved starting with a truly-equitable policy of the City, initiated by the Council and discussed and prepared for actualization by recommendation of relevant Commissions, e.g. the BTSSC and Social Services.) There's also no explicit mention of DJUSD properties - i.e. users such as students at primary and secondary schools, even as a future goal (yes, inclusive of the magic "everyone"). Bicycle theft on these campuses is a huge problem that the administration is not solving. The theft of a bicycle can be traumatic for people in this age group, especially if their family has difficulty replacing it. Why isn't this community involved at the first stage? Isn't there considerable value in the user experience of a younger person who might have difficulty with some over-complicated systems?
- City Staff promised new bicycle parking regulations as long as two years ago, but nothing has come of it (only the registration program which is mostly the work of an outside entity, and ROAM). Five years ago, the City initiated a plan to improve bicycle parking at Davis Depot, and eventually added longer lockers, which fit the long-tail type of cargo bicycle. Five years ago the City declined to pursue acquiring facilities that would accommodate larger cargo bikes or bikes with trailers for Davis Depot. Prior to the pandemic there were some ideas about adding over-sized bicycle parking in the one of the under-utilized buildings at the Depot, but nothing's come of it.
The Bike Lock design:
What makes it take “25 times” more time to breach than…. what? A cable lock, a top-of-the-line U lock? My chain and lock combo takes at least 3 to 4 minutes to cut in the field with an angle grinder – ROAM takes 90 minutes?
It’s “Cloud Connected”: What happens when it can’t connect for any number of reasons, as other systems can’t sometimes? Does it become unusable?
Right now the “Lightning Bolt” locks take less time to cut than the more expensive hardened locks. The main reason it’s not happened a lot is likely due to the psychological disincentive of damaging city or university property, as opposed to personal property. Will existing racks be modified to be more resistant to quick cutting?
Presumably the alarm sound comes from a small hole etc that’s also protected from water intrusion – have their been tests to seal this without setting off the alarm?
If the QR code on the lock is damaged how can the user disable the lock?
If the user loses their phone or its battery is dead, how the can the user disable the lock?
How many regular bicycle users don’t have mobile phones?
Is there a way for people who don’t have mobile phones to use the system?
What supplies the power to the locks? A separate battery on each holding piece that requires a swap for a recharged battery? How often does it need to be recharged?
Have there been tests where a unit’s alarm and lights were activated in the present of people not connected with the project? If so, what was their reaction?
All the visuals in the attached promotional brochure are visualizations - no photos. Presumably some exist as they are being introduced BEFORE the BTSSC meeting and before its members formally-reviewed it.
I went through the entire staff report and interleaved comments and questions. It's long and it's here.