DPT Finally Racking Up Successes By Michael Tanner

Soon you'll be able to quit locking your bicycle to whatever meter, trash can, or parking sign happens to be handy where you park. The city has had a law on the books requiring bike racks in public garages since 1998 but compliance has been weak and enforcement nonexistent. After a couple years of sitting on funding for its garage rack compliance program and the sidewalk bike rack program, the DPT has dedicated a city planner solely to the bike parking issue. On the job for about nine months, Bike Parking Coordinator Deirdre Weinberg says that a major push forward for bicycle security is underway.

Trash can bike racks may soon become a thing of the past. Photo by Glenn Caley Bachmann
Weinberg explains that the original 18-month period for installing racks in garages was extended to ensure that all owners were aware of the requirements. The new deadline for starting installation was the end of May. After that, the DPT will forward the list of noncompliant garages to the planning department for enforcement. Fines can range as high as $500 each day a garage does not have bike racks as required by law. Weinberg says that 30-40 garages have come into compliance in the last several months alone, and compliance is "picking up speed as owners see the axe falling." Garages must display easily visible signs directing cyclists to the racks. The DPT is providing signs free to those garages that haven't posted their own yet, so the owners' good deeds won't go unnoticed.

At the same time, the city has contracted the Civilian Conservation Corps to begin erecting sidewalk racks this month. By August 31, 350 new U-racks are to be set up throughout the city, in addition to the 150 or so installed before last year. The most important new set of bike racks is at the Main Library, where the DPT is taking the unprecedented action of putting the bike racks in the street, replacing three curbside car parking spaces with 50 bike parking spaces!

Placement of new racks is based on suggestions Weinberg has received so far from citizens and the SFBC, and criteria that ensure the bike racks meet all safety, traffic, and disability requirements. Bicyclists may call 554-2304 or email bike_parking@ ci.sf.ca.us to request a bike rack on any public sidewalk.

Please note that racks may not be placed in bus zones, loading zones, within a couple feet of underground utility cover plates, and on sidewalks narrower than 10 feet.

There should be a map of these treasures on the DPT web site by next fall, augmenting the map of garage racks that Weinberg expects to have up early this summer.

Meantime, many city-owned garages (like 5th/Mission, Sutter/Stockton, and the Transbay Terminal) already have actual bike lockers. Weinberg has been spearheading a recent effort to repair broken lockers and strengthen locks on the rest. And all this security still costs just $75 a year to rent.

Though Weinberg is basically a department of one at this point, she expects cyclists to be "our eyes and ears." You can help by reporting garages that lack racks or signage, suggesting a site for rack placement, or reporting "guerilla" racks put up by private citizens that are positioned in either an impractical or dangerous manner.