Bicycle parking in the suburbs: a funny mix

Bike left unlocked, in front of a gym and yoga studio.

My bicycle and another person’s bicycle, locked to the two ends of this bicycle rack.

I bike a lot in the suburbs and although I feel alone much of the time, in a sea of cars, getting stuck in cul-de-sacs and walking my bike across highway ramps carefully on foot, I do see traces of fellow cyclists: bicycles parked haphazard, sprinkled throughout the city. While downtown Montreal is infamous for its high levels of bicycle theft (50% of respondents in the McGill Bicycle Theft survey had been victims of bicycle theft) and as a result people usually bring their bicycles up to their apartments or attach them carefully with a U-lock, people in the suburbs are less concerned. I often see bikes left unattended and unlocked (Anecdote: I tested this out in June. I biked to my doctor’s appointment and parked my bike, but did not lock it, beside the building. I went up to my appointment and when I returned my bicycle was precisely where I left it. I admit, it probably helped that I put it beside, not in front, of the building and it is far from a new bicycle.).

I have noticed two even more interesting trends: First, most of the bicycle racks in Pointe-Claire are designed more as bicycle stands, used to hold up your bike by rolling your wheel between two bars. With this kind of rack it is impossible to attach both your frame and your wheel. What I often do, and I noticed today that others do this too, is place my bike close to the outside of the rack, where I can attach both the frame and the wheel with my U-lock.

Bicycle locked to highway infrastructure at a bus stop, with a cable lock (211 bus stop, St-Jean/A-20 West)

Finally, I know there are some people cycling to transit. However, there are seldom bicycle racks at bus stops. This is evident every time I see a bicycle attached to random infrastructure, such as benches, lamp posts and most recently, the metal barrier on the highway entry ramp.

There is work to be done to improve bicycle parking in the West Island: we need more bicycle racks, especially at transit stops, and better designed racks which allow for cyclists to lock their bicycles securely.

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