Thursday, July 22, 2010

Metering thoughts

The City continues -- with some delays* -- to replace parking meters with pay-and-display kiosks.

The old meters are not immediately removed, however, since motorists are used to what they look like and seek them out. Instead, each one is converted for six months or so to signs telling motorists to look for the pay-and-display kiosk.

After that breaking in period, the old meters are removed. All of them. A small percentage of them -- 12% --  will be retrofited to become bike hitching posts. The city will then go out to find places to locate these new posts.

Some meter posts perhaps should be removed. The ones immediately adjacent a curb, for example, which would sometimes get in the way of car doors [more car first thinking here...].  But the city being run on a rational and systems based approach, instead of removing just the problem posts removes ALL of them, and will send out crews to reinstall them in new locations. Criteria had to be developed for where they will be put. Not along the curb. Not along buildings or fences (as in the picture above) because then cycles cannot be put on both sides of the post.

Wouldn't it have been cheaper to identify which posts need to be removed, and left in place the ones that could be converted to cycle posts? Under the city's plan, we go to the expense of removing all the posts, developing a new location plan with all sorts of location criteria, and then reinstalling the posts, which is so expensive it will take years to get just some of them reinstalled. I'm willing to bet that while parking meter posts could be squeezed in anywhere they city wanted, the new cycling post criteria will be so tough we will shortly be told we can't have a post here or there because they dont fit the criteria.

Local businesses are annoyed at the lack of bike parking posts now. With the removal of the meters, there will be even fewer hitching posts. I already see cycles locked to benches and trees along Preston. Both the Somerset/Chinatown BIA and the Preston BIA have asked the city to do a one for one replacment of parking meter posts for cycle hitching posts, and the response was negative.

Next summer, when all the old parking meter posts are gone, and the few recycled cycle posts are in ... the shortage will become apparent. Four thousand parking meter posts will be missing, only 500 new posts may have been installed. Media can pencil it in for next June: write story on shortage of bike parking spots.

*delays ... the new pay-and-display kiosks are made in France. There have been delays getting them to Ottawa by shipping container as this is a peak-season for trans-atlantic shipping, and now the port of Montreal is closed due to a labour dispute.


  1. Curbside parking meters also prevented motorists (especially taxis and delivery trucks) from climbing up onto the sidewalks, probably extending the sidewalk lifespan. Now it'll be a free-for-all.

    They've already removed some on Elgin with some recent sidewalk repairs.

  2. I understood from this article ( ) that the city was generally leaving the 550 converted posts and only moving some of them to new locations. It's all in how the words are spun.

    You're right though, 550 bike lockups (even at 2 bikes a lockup) isn't enough.

    -- Justin

  3. No, no way, they did not manage to mess this up too?

    It just seemed to obvious: note the meters that are in the way and remove them, putting bike rings on the others that remain unless there really wasn't a need for them. Then take some of the ones that had to be removed and find places to put them in areas of need.

  4. Did THAT many people really lock up their bikes to parking meters? I've never done it, and it doesn't seem particularly secure.

  5. I do all the time. Because they are found just about everywhere I go, eg downtown. No matter how many are actually used, we are losing 3500 possible locking posts. Their absence will be noticed.

  6. I don't lock my bike to meters because the bike can often be lifted, lock and all, over the top of the meter and carried away by a thief.