How the City’s Parking Meter Replacement Will Affect Bicyclists

New racks on the way to supplement loss of secure bike parking at meters

The City of Pittsburgh Parking Authority is about to debut their new pay stations on the North Shore, with Downtown, Oakland, the Strip District, and the South Side to follow. It is unknown when the rest of the city will follow suit.

We applaud the City’s plans to modernize with the new stations, there are some issues and opportunities that arise for cyclists when the parking meters are removed.

Namely: where will all the bicycles park.

Secure places to lock

It’s no secret that parking meters act as de facto secure bike racks. Removal of the meters will seriously impact the number of available secure bike parking spaces, leaving less secure sign posts, garbage cans, trees (please don’t lock to trees!), or whatever happens to be around for people to lock their bikes. Also affected will be businesses who stand to lose parking that their bicycle riding customers depend on.

Fortunately, as soon as the plans were announced, BikePGH began working with the Department of Public Works, Planning, and the Parking Authority to address the issue head on. What resulted is that DPW  will be bolting standard “hoop” style racks (pictured above at the Jewish University Center in Oakland) in affected neighborhoods as soon as possible after the meters are removed. They will not be converting the no longer needed meter poles into racks, like some cities have done to mixed results. Also, it won’t be a one-to-one replacement as they intend to concentrate the new racks near businesses. Unfortunately, due to space issues on narrow sidewalks, the meters need to be removed before the new racks are installed, so expect some transition time as there are two agencies handling their respective roles.

At first, there will no doubt be businesses that will lose convenient bike parking for their customers.

To help address this, the City of Pittsburgh has a Bike Rack Request Program where eligible businesses can request a FREE bike rack for the sidewalk in front of their building.  Requesting a rack will help the chances that your business will receive a bike rack after the meters are removed. Even if your business is not in the affected neighborhoods, you can still request bike racks.

Businesses can also simply install a bike rack themselves with a $25 bike rack permit.  Click here for all information.

Removing the meters

We learned some lessons from Philadelphia and other cities on what not to do when removing parking meters. We really want to avoid any situation where a worker removes a meter while a bicycle is locked to it, leaving the bike ripe for the picking.  In order to avoid this, or having to confiscate a bike that would need to be reclaimed later, the Parking Authority has asked us to pass along the following information.

First of all, the new pay stations will be installed while the old meters are still active, with about a week of overlap as the new stations get tested. Basically, once the new pay stations get installed, the meters will be removed shortly thereafter.  The Parking Authority is starting on the North Shore, and intend to complete the installations in the other neighborhoods by mid-September.

They have assured us that they will not be removing meters with bikes attached. Rather, if they come upon a meter that needs to be removed, but is occupied by a bicycle, they plan to tag the bicycle to warn that the meter is set for removal and that the bike should be moved. Once the bike is removed, they will remove the meter.

In short, if you see a new pay station present, please avoid any long-term locking to the meter.

Get ready for BikeFest, a fifteen-day celebration of bicycling, August 5th-19th. The activities kick off with Pedal Pittsburgh on August 5th’ which includes a car-free section and a finish line festival. On August 10th the Bike Fest Party returns to the Pittsburgh Opera in the Strip District.


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