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Alewife Station’s Bike Cage: Cambridge, Mass.

In the greater Boston area, a secure bike parking facility for bikes has been erected at the end of the T's Red Line in Cambridge. It boasts one incredible amenity: it's completely free!

Alewife station is perfectly situated at the edge of the burbs and perpendicular to The Minuteman Bikeway, one of the most popular rail trails in the U.S. Wanting to encourage even more customers to launch an intermodal bike commute, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) fast tracked two unmanned bike cages that can hold hundreds of bicycles in a secure, covered cage, protected by high-tech surveillance. From the crowded weekday parking action we saw - with hundreds of bikes parked outside the cage to supplemental racks - it looks like a hit.

Also see lots of our other bike parking goodies from Berkeley's Bikestation, BikeLink in the Bay Area, and Portland's on-street bike parking choices.

[intro music]

David Loutzenheiser: [00:12] Welcome to the LA station bicycle parking cages. This is one of the two new bicycle parking cages that have been installed recently in the last two months.

Ken Field: [00:21] One way to get to the Red Line for a lot of people is by bicycle by using the parts or all of the Minuteman path. So that really is an important connection for a lot of people.

David Watson: [00:34] So I’ve arrived at Alewife Station on my bike and I’m about to enter the bike cage to park. All I need is my Bike Charlie Card and you just tap it and that unlocks the door. Once you’re in the cage you just need to find an empty place to park your bike. If your bike’s not too heavy it’s pretty easy to put them up in the upper racks. You just have to get the front wheel in and then guide it forward, and then there’s a little bump you have to get it over that holds the wheel in and you just need to attach your lock back here to the chain stay.

Eric Scheier: [01:10] One of the most exciting aspects of the project was from start to finish we were able to have these cages operational in about four months, which for a large public agency like the MBTA that rarely happens. Normally it takes years. There are a couple of components to this particular facility that are maybe worth mentioning. One is that it doesn’t cost the bicyclist anything. The people who want to use this facility get a card that also functions as a way to ride on the subway, if you put money on the card. But they use that card to have access to the cage and park their bike safely.

David Loutzenheiser: [01:47] In our research we found that this is one of the first unmanned bicycle cages in the country, at any transit station in the country.

David Watson: [01:54] As you can see there are still hundreds of bike parking spaces outside the bike cages here at Alewife and you’re welcome to use them if you can find a space. But they’re pretty much full today.

Eric Scheier: [02:04] We just finished this bicycle cage in September and I just want to point out a number of the components which I think are important for people to realise. As you can see we have high security chainling fencing and what’s interesting about this is that it’s a tight mesh fence, it’s a security fence, so that it’s much harder to climb the fence. It’s also much harder to cut the fence. And you can see that we have a canopy up here. The canopy is really important because of the climate here and because that it’s… for people who have high-end bicycles, it’s important to keep the bicycle dry. And people are just more comfortable locking and unlocking a bicycle when it’s some place that’s protected from the elements. You’ll notice on the ceiling here, these black domes here, these are security surveillance cameras, okay, and there are four of these in the cage. They’re looking at both the door and also at the interior space. Everything that happens in this cage, even this interview, is actually on film. Also you can see we have a high level of lighting here. Lighting’s also important, especially this time of year when it gets dark fairly early. We have two different types of bike parking racks here, probably because we wanted to try out a couple of different systems. On the right hand side you can see the conventional inverted U type racks. On the other side of the cage, over here, we have double stack racks. A couple of other important factors have to do with information for the customers, and by information I mean signage, and have signage on the door here reminding people that when this cage fills up there is parking space available on the other side of the station.

Steve Miller: [03:32] Well the buzz is that people love it. People are excited. It adds to the general feeling that when you’re a bicyclist, you’re part of the community. You’re part of the mix, that people are respecting your needs and welcoming you in.

David Watson: [03:44] The reaction has been very positive, and I think it speaks for itself that the cage is pretty much full right now.

David Loutzenheiser: [03:51] I understand that T’s already talking about building more cages. It helps even more so legitimise and honour the bicycle as a key mode of transportation.

[music]

Transcription Sponsored by: Transcript Divas Transcription Services

Clarence Eckerson, Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

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  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/grenavitar Fritz

    I think surveillance and a choke point is key to stopping bike theft. Anyone stealing a bike (theoretically) must leave through the door and will (theoretically) be taped. That's a big disincentive to theft... which is a great thing. Now it remains to be seen if the agency with control of the video cameras 1) maintains their functioning and 2) is willing to use the footage to track down bike thieves.

  • http://www.urbanaggression.com Felipe

    Similar facilities throughout all facets of the transit infrastructure will help solidify cycling as a transportation alternative. All communities with plans to upgrade transit hubs need to watch this film.

  • http://hembrow.blogspot.com David Hembrow

    There are secure places to park your bike all over the Netherlands. For instance, I have a video here of a covered, video surveilled and actually quite beautiful cycle park at a railway station in Groningen for over 4000 bikes, which brings the station area to over 6000 in total. Note how the double level cycle parking here has a lever to provide some mechanical advantage when lifting your bike which makes it rather easier to use.

    Also, this is an example of a manned secure cycle park in Nijmegen city centre. Again it's for thousands of bikes.

    You find a lot of cycle parking even in very small towns.