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"Rack Attack" hits Near Southeast with new bike parking

It only takes about half an hour to install a bike rack. So, very soon, DDOT and WABA will have placed 36 new bike racks in Near Southeast as part of a new initiative called "Rack Attack."

Photo by DDOTDC on Flickr.

ANC Commissioner David Garber brought attention to the lack of bicycle parking at new retail establishments in the area. Along with DDOT and WABA staff, he was on hand to witness the first rack being installed at Cornercopia in the rapidly growing neighborhood.

New bicycle racks are fairly inexpensive and provide a great incentive for cycling in a neighborhood. U-shaped "staple" racks cost about $100 in bulk, and DDOT provides a grant to WABA for installation. DDOT Bicycle Program Specialist Chris Holben estimated the total cost of a new bike rack at around $300. WABA Bike Parking Program Coordinator Megan Van de Mark installs most of the racks, using a bicycle and trailer to carry the racks and tools to each installation site.

Are there places you know that could use more bike parking? Maybe a “Rack Attack” could come to your neighborhood soon. DDOT installs about 250 bike racks a year and takes requests from the business community for possible locations. Post your suggestions in the comments and we'll get the nominations to DDOT.

Check out the full set of photos provided by DDOT.

Michael Perkins serves on the Arlington County Transportation Commission, though the views expressed here are his own. He lives in Arlington with his wife and two children. 


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why are we spending tax $$ on bikes when maybe 1% of people use them. im sure it has nothing to do with the fact that bike riders are liberals.
we should be repairing roads and potholes. dc is becoming closer to a 3rd world county every day (just go to gallery place and see what i mean)

by Johna on Oct 1, 2011 3:53 pm • linkreport

@Johna: which 3rd world county do you come from? Yours was a pretty sad attempt at trolling, please practice more at before you come back here.

by jindc on Oct 1, 2011 4:37 pm • linkreport

calling someone a troll is a great way to avoid having to acknowledge they're facts.
the fact is bikes are recreational and we should not be spending our limited road $$ on them. dc's whole economy is based on commuters and making it harder for me to get into the city isnt doing anything to help

by Johna on Oct 1, 2011 4:45 pm • linkreport

Can we also get locks on CaBi's? It is unfrotuantely not possible yet to do a quick chore on a CaBi because you can't lock them. I know it goes against their philosophy, but on the other hand, isn't being able to do quick chores the point of CaBi?

by Jasper on Oct 1, 2011 4:45 pm • linkreport

@Johna: Facts, like proof-reading, can be tricky. Please cite where you found the following facts

1) 1% of people use bikes
2) bike riders are liberals
3) 'we' are not repairing roads and potholes
4) DC is becoming close to a 3rd world county (PS please tell me what a 3rd world county is? Is that your definition of PG County?)
5) bikes are recreational
6) 'we' are spending road dollars on bicycles
7) DC's 'whole' economy is based on commuters


by jindc on Oct 1, 2011 5:59 pm • linkreport

please tell me what a 3rd world county is?

The US poorest county:,_South_Dakota ?

PG County can not be a 3rd world county. PG County is the richest county in the US with a black majority.

MD and VA are not featured on the list of the 100 poorest counties. Buchanan County, VA is the 85th poorest county in the US, for median household income. Not surprisingly, you can't get much farther from DC in VA.

by Jasper on Oct 1, 2011 6:20 pm • linkreport

You could jsut buy a bike lock and carry it with you in your backpack or something for use with Cabi. Why does everything have to be formally provided to you?

by Doug on Oct 1, 2011 6:38 pm • linkreport

Johna wrote: "bike riders are liberals"

WTF??? Some people are determined to make a political issue of EVERYTHING.

And then Johna wrote: "dc's whole economy is based on commuters and making it harder for me to get into the city isnt doing anything to help."

You're not even a DC resident and we're supposed to give a damn about how YOU think OUR local tax dollars get spent? Please go away.

More bike racks, please...on every block. Despite Johna's ignorance bikes are not just for exercise or recreation, they are an important part of DC's transportation system now and will be even more so in the future. And not just for "liberals"! (wow. that was dumb.)

by Kevin on Oct 1, 2011 7:14 pm • linkreport

I don't care what percentage of bikers there are vs crazy car drivers, DC needs more bike racks, including downtown. Whenever I ride to NW CT, 19th, K Street areas for an appointment, the racks are full (hence I'm late as I search for a sign post to inefficiently lock my bike to).

Another important issue: which racks are best? I definitely vote for the upside-down u-shaped ones with the thinner loop attached to them, making it easier to lock bike and front wheel to it.

by Freestyler on Oct 1, 2011 9:12 pm • linkreport

@ Doug: Why does everything have to be formally provided to you? ?

Because it's convenient. Is this not America? The country that more or less invented convenience? Since when is convenience a dirty word?

Also, CaBi is a business. They cater to their customers. I am one of them. I can ask for a service. They might provide it. That's how a free market works.

by Jasper on Oct 1, 2011 10:47 pm • linkreport

@ Kevin:You're not even a DC resident and we're supposed to give a damn about how YOU think OUR local tax dollars get spent?

Because, however obnoxious, SHE paid them. And SHE can choose to take HER tax dollars elsewhere, and away from YOUR locality. Pot, meet kettle.

by Jasper on Oct 1, 2011 10:49 pm • linkreport

Johna is not a DC resident. She gets NO SAY in DC issues like potholes vs. bike racks. No say whatsoever. Just like I get no say in those issues in MD and VA.

And it's not because she's obnoxious (those she is).

There's no pot/kettle issue here.

Bottom line: As Freestyler points out, the demand is there. Bike racks in many places are full every day. Every person on a bike is a person not in a car, not packing the Metro, and improving their health. This is a no-brainer.

by Kevin on Oct 1, 2011 11:43 pm • linkreport

Georgetown desperately needs more bike parking, specifically along M St near Wisconsin Ave.

by Russell on Oct 2, 2011 1:04 am • linkreport

bike racks in front of the Taylors on K Street wold be useful. Some people are chaining their bikes to the trees in the planted area . Not a good idea.

by Dan Maceda on Oct 2, 2011 8:10 am • linkreport

Keep dreaming. I do think there is some on K/Water street, but the sidewalks on M and Wisconsin are both too small to accommodate bikes and hoards of shoppers. And the Old Georgetown Board would likely veto the idea on arrival. Wisconsin below M might be a different story.

by thedofc on Oct 2, 2011 10:27 am • linkreport

@jasper, re: bike locks

I suspect the reason CaBi doesn't provide locks is because then they would then be sanctioning locking the bikes off the racks.

It's probably a liability issue. If you were to lock a CaBi bike up with your lock and the bike is then stolen, you're responsible. But if you were to lock it up with an official CaBi lock, then who's on the hook when a thief saws through it and takes the bike?

by jyindc on Oct 2, 2011 11:56 am • linkreport

@ jyindc:I suspect the reason CaBi doesn't provide locks is because then they would then be sanctioning locking the bikes off the racks.

Oh, I'm pretty sure of that. In CaBi's vision, their bikes don't need a lock because there is always a station nearby. In real life this is not (yet) the case. Try shopping in Georgetown on a CaBi. Unless you want to shop at the waterfront, you have a 10-15 minute walk to the nearest bike station.

Just ask yourself, how do you go to the Georgetown Post Office on a CaBi?

I've run into this problem several times now, and it's annoying. Hence my request for locks on the bikes.

by Jasper on Oct 2, 2011 12:47 pm • linkreport

Jasper, I was with you (about the lack of station density) until the example. The Wisconsin Ave. CaBi station at the canal is 2-1/2 blocks away from the Georgetown post office, which is hardly a 10-15 minute walk.

In addition to the liability concern raised above, I would rather have a more sustained drive toward station additions/expansions, and I think 80 stations in the next 5-6 months should help considerably (and more than retrofitting 1,100 bikes with locks would).

by Jacques on Oct 2, 2011 3:05 pm • linkreport

30 minutes to install? Makes me not want to use one since it sounds easy to break.

by TGEOA on Oct 2, 2011 3:13 pm • linkreport

Why don't these bike racks have to go through the Public Space Committee review and approval process?

by Fritz on Oct 2, 2011 3:45 pm • linkreport

I remember reading a post somewhere not so long ago about a cyclist who forgot his lock, went into the place he was visiting and asked. The person at the front desk said they keep one handy for just that reason, and loaned him the lock.

by Steve O on Oct 2, 2011 3:48 pm • linkreport

Timor Bodega really needs a bike rack, or three. I've mentioned it to the owner, but I'm not sure he knows how to go about it.

Also, they need more near Big Bear Cafe/Farmers market. The ones there are always packed and I hate having to lock my bike to a neighbor's fence.

by Eric on Oct 2, 2011 4:09 pm • linkreport

@TGEOA: The process was to mark and drill holes in the concrete with a hammer drill, then pound self-setting stud anchors into the concrete. The studs have a deformable end that locks itself in when it is pounded. The nuts are then tightened using a special tool, and the threads are mangled to deter tampering. Short of pouring epoxy over the whole thing when you're done I don't know what you could do.

by Michael Perkins on Oct 2, 2011 5:21 pm • linkreport

OT: 3rd World is not the right term. It's a political designation for the non-aligned countries during the Cold War. NATO and the Warsaw Pact Countries were the 1st and 2nd worlds. Technically this made Switzerland "3rd World". The term you're looking for is "undeveloped" or "developing," depending on whether or not you're an optimist.

by David C on Oct 2, 2011 11:22 pm • linkreport

I would like to see a few racks in front of the Harris Teeter at the Potomac Metro. Also Foggy Bottom needs more racks like arround 20th and E.

by CapHill Keith on Oct 3, 2011 8:07 am • linkreport

It only takes about half an hour to install a bike rack.

This illustrates the problem I often have with this blog. Lack of forward thinking, lack of attention to detail, aesthetics, and scale.

I get it: there really should be no excuse not to offer people bike parking. (Although I've never really had to look longer than one solid minute for a place to park. It's not that hard, dedicated facility or no.) But that comment just struck me as so unthinking. And scarey for the future prospects of our once-beautiful city. Some of those racks are downright hideous. But eh. Who cares about aesthetics? (It's only the reason so many of us moved here.)

by Jazzy on Oct 3, 2011 8:24 am • linkreport

Would taking longer to install the racks solve your issue? If not, why do you object?

by Matt Johnson on Oct 3, 2011 8:45 am • linkreport

I second @Eric in front of Big Bear and Timor. Also on Rhode Island/1st NE in general would be nice. Went to new Boundary Stone(!) this weekend and all racks were full by 630!

Other Locales (at the risk of revealing my day-to-day destinations):
V St by American Ice.. also in the vicinity of 930
H Street 3rd to 15th NE
On 14th between Swann all the way to P.
Gallery Place all along 7th.
Pretty much every street downtown

Depending how you orient the rack, either parallel or perpendicular to the sidewalk path pretty much all sidewalks can accommodate an Inverted-U. Other options include Us on sleds that are not bolted to the ground so they in theory could occupy spaces such as metro grates that are otherwise not traversed.

Also, I've said it before and I will say it again: Bike Rack Ferris Wheel

As for aesthetics. What is more beautiful than a full bike parking lot? Certainly not a car lot....

by Beariest on Oct 3, 2011 9:36 am • linkreport

I object to the rapidity and unthinkingness of the decision making, as illustrated by the quoted comment, "it takes 30 minutes." I might amend it: it takes 30 minutes to destroy what was once an elaborately thought out design of a street, or what have you. Those loop racks are ugly. Not all bike racks are. There is never, and I mean never, any discussion on this list about how to make things more physically attractive so that they match or complement their environs. The concrete - don't get me started!

by Jazzy on Oct 3, 2011 10:16 am • linkreport

Jazzy, before installation, a DDOT employee plans out the location for each rack. Do you have an example of a bike rack that was installed in a way that made the sidewalks ugly?

by David C on Oct 3, 2011 11:34 am • linkreport

The installation takes 30 minutes not the planning/design/review process. You may have a legitimate beef with the style of rack but the installation time isn't a factor to the impact of the aesthetics.

by Canaan on Oct 3, 2011 12:01 pm • linkreport

Bike parking is good business sense for the city. DDOT should prioritize spending that gives people a chance to stop and spend money in the city, instead of just speeding ever-faster past the city's shops.

If there isn't enough space on the sidewalk, bike racks can either go around the corner or into a corral that replaces one street parking space. About a dozen bikes can be parked in place of a single car.

As for the "speed" of installing a bike rack, that of course refers only to the actual hardware of installing the rack. Just like it takes me 10 minutes to actually hang a picture frame from the wall, but days (weeks, months?) of contemplating where the picture should go on the wall, the "30 minute" time does not refer to whatever paperwork goes into these decisions beforehand. I remember that in Chicago, where things happen instantaneously compared to DC, it often took anywhere from 6 months to 3 years to get things like bike racks and recycle bins placed. There are many designs for bike racks out there and you're welcome to suggest others, but keep in mind that aesthetics are in the eye of the beholder. I think those new ParkMobile signs on every block are ugly, but I'll probably get used to them.

Glad to see a bike rack in front of Cornercopia in particular; a great little shop for sandwiches and sundries.

by Payton on Oct 3, 2011 12:29 pm • linkreport

The installation takes 30 minutes not the planning/design/review process. You may have a legitimate beef with the style of rack but the installation time isn't a factor to the impact of the aesthetics.
by Canaan on Oct 3, 2011 12:01 pm

Wouldn't it be nice to think so?

There's some in Adams Morgan and a few downtown which are fairly ugly. I know that DDOT won't consider anything that is different, they say, because of the expense. So cheap, ugly, and easy it is. As for this blog and aesthetics, I just see a lot of pasting of web sites to check this out or check that out, a one-size fits all approach. The bike rack is just a microcosm of what I think is a larger problem (in case I really needed to say that).

by Jazzy on Oct 3, 2011 1:29 pm • linkreport

The 1200(?) block of 11th Street NW needs more racks. Even with a few racks, a lot of bikes get chained or locked to young trees. A lot of Latino cyclists in the area; many don't have a voice or time to make such requests. Some of these guys work late at night, and can be seen racing home from restaurants and hotels in the wee hours of the morning after, sometimes after working two shifts. So consider this a formal request on their behalf. Even those in front of the local supermarket are not sufficient to meet demand.

Thank you.

by CCCA Prez on Oct 3, 2011 1:42 pm • linkreport

@Jazzy, I know that in several parts of the city, BID's (I'm thinking particularly the Golden Triangle BID) have paid for more attractive/artistic racks to go in on prominent corners.

I think this is great, and it's an example of DDOT working with externally-generated funds to upgrade the visual appearance of racks going in.

In the absence of externally funded "nicer" racks, though, would you rather have DDOT slow the pace of putting in bike-racks, to put in half as many (at twice the cost per)? I think it's a valid argument--not one that I agree with, but still valid--but I want to be clear that that's what you're arguing.

If that is the case, I would probably fall on the side of the argument that says there's not nearly enough capacity to meet current demand, so I would rather see the cheap staples go in now (they're certainly better than the 1980's long racks), but to have them replaced or supplemented eventually by nicer racks, any time someone or some group is willing to pitch in.

by Jacques on Oct 3, 2011 5:01 pm • linkreport

Jacques, it never works that way. Once the cheap staples, as you say, go in, that's it. To do something nice, you have to do it from the beginning, otherwise, it just doesn't ever get done. And hardly ever does it get undone.

I don't know if what you summarized of my argument is right or not. What I'm saying is that no, it is not worth it to uglify a place to convenience a growing population of cyclists. No. No. No. You can put racks in in a way that respect the design of a place, that incorporates flow and scale and aesthetics. It just takes longer and more effort. It does not satisfy many peoples' impatience. I'm not saying every single street is magnificent, but there are some that are, and are or were worth preserving.

by Jazzy on Oct 3, 2011 5:26 pm • linkreport

@Jazzy, where exactly do you feel that bike racks detract from the aesthetics of a place? Perhaps a specific example would help illustrate your point?

And the planning for this event and these racks took a lot longer than 30 minutes. Clearly it was done this way to attract attention, hence the moniker of "rack attack" and what not. If there are bike racks that you would like to see changed that's one thing, but these weren't just thrown in there by a pack of marauding WABA folks without any oversight.

by Tim Krepp on Oct 3, 2011 5:48 pm • linkreport

Jazzy, you are hurting our feelings. No one likes to be told they're ugly. I suppose you like those tarted up bike racks with all their surgical enhancements. And we're especially sensitive, if you'd bother to find out. We don't believe in namecalling, that's why we don't make fun of your handle ("Jazzy?" Makes us think of jazz hands).

I think if you got to know us you'd see that we're nice, funny and loyal. That makes us beautiful on the inside. Also, we're great in bed.

by DC Bike racks on Oct 3, 2011 6:01 pm • linkreport

Man o man, you are gonna make me waste time on the Internet. It would be so much easier to talk about the bike racks I know, but then I risk revealing my identify, especially if I go on and on about a bike rack that really works. Then anyone I know reading this would know instantly who I am. So you force me to the broadband, where I am much less familiar with these bike racks. But, anyhow, generally:

do nothing for a space

You don't like my handle?? It's one of the ones I'm prouder of. Rack you're functional, but remember the other part??

Don't mean to snark, but if all you can think of when you read Jazzy is "jazz hands," perhaps you need to expand your horizons some! I think of many things, including "jazzed" a 70s type of verb. Which makes me snicker like a child, but also like a child who's really in awe.

by JAZZY! on Oct 3, 2011 8:02 pm • linkreport

These are pretty good, too. You'll notice that it's the federal agency (where the training and seriousness about design still exist):

Notice they are also not black. Black is a color that tends to dominate its a scene. So you really don't want to draw attention to a bike rack when there are really more interesting things that are there. But the black of those loop racks distracts you and you look, and you lose brain power. In other words, your eye/mind registers no net gain of anything interesting. The NGA racks above, on the other hand, fit in with the surroundings, are the right shade of green. I can't see the larger perspective, but it is possible that these humble bike racks even ENHANCE their surroundings.

These are all things that city/state/federal agencies ALL used to know just without thinking. Over the years, we have lost knowledge.

by Jazzy on Oct 3, 2011 8:11 pm • linkreport

1. I don't see anything particularly ugly about the ones you highlighted. That's the thing about aesthetics - it's all in the eye of the beholder. I don't know how much you want the government defining what is beautiful and what is not. That is, after all, Joan Rivers' job.
2. The NGA bike racks - being secured at only one spot - aren't as secure as the others you pointed to. So here we're trading function for form.

by David C on Oct 3, 2011 10:18 pm • linkreport

Wait, you don't like the ones at Argonaut? Huh? I remember when they went in, the folks at Argonaut were totally jazzed about them.

I guess I can see how you don't like them. They really destroy my view of the abandon gas station and the homeless encampment just a few yards down the street.

by Tim Krepp on Oct 3, 2011 10:30 pm • linkreport

Where to begin.

All manner of chintzy clutter has been put up (and the old classics taken down) in the name of inanities like beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

No. There are things such as principles. Landscape architects used to learn them. Artists too. And architects. These really exist. They might not be respected or taught anymore, but they still exist, and if you learned more about them, you would know.

There is elegant simplicity.

While the black loop racks are far from the most offensive pieces of furniture that have recently been spoiling our streets and parks, if you insist that they represent ‘elegant simplicity’ better than the NGA’s well…perhaps we have nothing more to say to each other.

by Jazzy on Oct 4, 2011 12:27 pm • linkreport

David C. the choice here is between a district agency and a federal one. The federal one trains people. The federal agency insists on standards. The district agency reacts to people, and does a hurry up job.

Give me the people with design experience, competence (proven), and know-how any day of the week.

The NPS has standards - they are far and away better than anything that the District (and probably most municipal and state agencies) can offer. That's just the way it is.

The government is deciding. The question is: which branch of it do you want.

by Jazzy on Oct 4, 2011 12:32 pm • linkreport

Jazzy, the District has standards as well. In fact, the bike racks you're objecting to are the standard as defined by DDOT. Furthermore, the people with the greatest vested interest in making things look nice - i.e. adjacent land owners are, instead of objecting, asking for these to be installed. Similar bike racks have been installed all over the city - including on federal property where they must be reviewed by the Fine Arts Commission. These at the new MLK Memorial, for example, are basically the same - with the bar added for extra utility.

DDOT has a program where they will order and install specially designed bike racks in front of a business if the business will pay for it. Almost no one takes them up on the offer and instead goes for the standard design.

So let's see if we can make a couple of lists.

People who think these bike racks are fine:

Adjacent Business owners
The ANCs
The Fine Arts Commission
Various project architects
Everyone on this blog

People who think these bike racks are ugly:


You're entitled to your opinion, but know that you're the only one holding it.

by David C on Oct 4, 2011 12:56 pm • linkreport

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