Locking Up Is Hard to Do

meter_parking.jpgIs bike rack installation keeping up with meter removal? Photo: velcroTABandthewalkman/Flickr
2008 was a banner year for bike rack installations in New York City. DOT put in 1,377 racks in the fiscal year ending last July, according to the Mayor's Management Report -- up from 320 the previous year. And when DOT unveiled its new on-street rack design in November, the agency said it planned to install nearly 5,000 in the next three years.

The upswing in official bike parking spots may have to accelerate even more, however, to keep pace with the swiftly diminishing supply of that informal standby, the quarter-slot parking meter. A reader who suffers from a disability recently brought this concern to our attention after seeing a slew of the old meters removed to make way for Muni meters:

I need the bike to live pain-free and mobile in NYC. Now it's getting to be a lot harder for me as the temp warms and more bikes are on the street, and I can't find a place to lock up without walking a painful block, or two, or more! What can we do?

We put in a request with DOT to find out how many parking meters were removed in 2008 and haven't heard back yet. A back-of-the-envelope calculation using data in the Mayor's Management Report suggests that, in the same period that the city installed those 1,377 bike racks, it removed somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 meters. (An additional 4.4 percent of the city's total metered parking supply -- about 80,000 spots -- is now covered by Muni meters.)

What are you seeing out there on the streets -- have you noticed any areas where it's tougher than usual to find somewhere to lock up? Could this be the impetus to test out some bike corrals in New York City? How about re-purposing those decommissioned meters?