Why can't people park their bikes right?
November 22, 2004 2:05 AM   Subscribe

Bike Rack Etiquette. Can anyone explain why certain asshats insist on parking their bikes horizontally against the front of bike racks, thereby taking up a dozen+ spaces? Am I missing something? Is there some reason beyond the obvious selfishness? Are they oblivious to the fact that pissed off people (like me) will gleefully let the air out of their tires ... or worse?
posted by RavinDave to Society & Culture (42 answers total)
 
So that they can lock both their front and back wheels? Can't think of any other reason...
posted by nicwolff at 2:14 AM on November 22, 2004


Maybe they don't want their bikes sticking out near foot/car traffic because they're afraid they'll get knocked around?

(a pretty flimsy reason, to be sure, but i've definitely met people who never outgrew the "don't touch my toys!" mentality...)
posted by introcosm at 2:40 AM on November 22, 2004


I guess I was thinking there must be a senisble reason that I just wasn't seeing. I had a similar experience back in the early days of kryponite locks when I'd see several of them hanging on nearby racks. At that time, I thought people must be insane until someone pointed out they were left by people who simply didn't want to lug them around and were going to be parking there later. Made sense when explained that way (indeed, I should have guessed that). But this business of taking up an entire rack for one frigging bike has to one of the rudest things I've encountered in lieu of a sensible explanation. Moreover, it seems insanely risky in a busy area. It's like hanging a "Please fuck with my bike" sign on it. I haven't gotten that petty -- yet -- (though I'm sorely tempted).
posted by RavinDave at 2:49 AM on November 22, 2004


it's so that you can easily stand on the spokes to make pancacke wheels.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:21 AM on November 22, 2004


It's just someone thinking that they're a unique snowflake who deserves half the bike rack because the world wants the expensive frame that daddy bought for them.

If you're seeing the same person(s) doing this every day (like a co-worker and I did), you can remedy this using the following:

Day One: A bright (green or orange) post-it with "Park properly or this bike gets trashed."

Day Two: (this is conjecture because we never saw the bike again, parked correctly or not.) If the asshole is still doing it, take a coffee break sometime after lunch (around 3:00, because the asshole will be positive that it was an empty threat by then and not checking his/her bike), take out some wire cutters and snip the brake and gear lines.

Day Three: If it's still going on, you're justified in standing on the spokes as andrew cooke suggests. Just be careful because the bike's probably being monitored from afar.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:57 AM on November 22, 2004 [1 favorite]


what the Mayor said
posted by matteo at 5:04 AM on November 22, 2004


I'm all for vigilante justice, but only AFTER a warning via a note. Sometimes a guy is a dick and doesn't care if is actions inconveniences others, but quite often they're just oblivious to the effects of what they do. A note could either alert them to an action that needs correcting, or at least scare them into getting their shit together.

And if they're dumb enough to do it again I can assure that it'll be on their mind all day. They'll keep going back to check on their bike and when it's out of site they'll be wondering if anything is happening to it. It'd be so much easier to just get with the program and use the rack the way everybody knows it's supposed to be used and not worry about it.
posted by HifiToaster at 5:26 AM on November 22, 2004


take out some wire cutters and snip the brake and gear lines.

Decidedly uncool, no matter how frustrated you might be.

Smearing honey on the seat or the handlebars, on the other hand, is fine. (and hilarious)
posted by felix betachat at 5:38 AM on November 22, 2004


take out some wire cutters and snip the brake and gear lines.... uou're justified in standing on the spokes as andrew cooke suggests

Yeah... sure, that's the way to do it. Deliberately damage the bike. You are justified in doing that. Remember that when the police come round. Just point them to this comment and say 'look, I read it on the Internet so it must be true'.
posted by humuhumu at 5:52 AM on November 22, 2004


when property is everything, community is nothing.

om.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:03 AM on November 22, 2004


Cutting gear cables: minor vandalism and inconvenient.
Cutting brake cables: potentially very dangerous.

Letting the air out of both tires would be a good first shot across the bow (after a warning).

I wonder how to deal with motorists who park so as to block a bike rack sometimes...
posted by adamrice at 6:05 AM on November 22, 2004


I suppose the concept of asking nicely has gone the way of wild fantasies about property destruction.

Also, if you cut brake cables and the biker gets into an accident, congratulations, you're going to jail.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:06 AM on November 22, 2004


If this is one of those really nice bikes, carbon fiber everywhere, campy components, aero bars, etc. I'd find myself a Huffy emblem and adhere it with something super strong. 'Tis a cruel fate for a bike elitist.
posted by phrontist at 6:30 AM on November 22, 2004


The answers on this thread are mildly horrifying. You should never intentionally damage someone else's property, or threaten to do so.

Develop a sense of what is not your problem. If you can still lock your bike, this is not your problem. If you can't, complain to whomever owns the bike rack (your work/school/local government, whatever). You simply cannot go through life taking it upon yourself to punish every asshole you encounter.
posted by profwhat at 7:02 AM on November 22, 2004


A relatively non-violent option would be to get an old lock, and lock a shopping cart (or old bike frame, or other random piece of street junk) to the offender's frame. Throw away the key.

...they come out of the office, and their bike is in PERFECT condition. But it can't be used, because there's a rusty shopping cart attached to the rear wheel.

But only after a note, and make goddamn sure your note sticks -- I mean, what if it simply blew away in the wind?
posted by aramaic at 7:04 AM on November 22, 2004


A note, or air out of the tires, even the honey on the seat seem about right. Outright destruction seems a bit much for the level of offense. No?
posted by caddis at 7:26 AM on November 22, 2004


If you're going to fuck with the bike, don't fuck with it in such a way that the owner would be tempted to just leave it there because that would defeat the purpose of the fuck in the first place.

Honey, Vaseline, shaving cream, and so on could make nice gooey surprises on seats and handles and would be a good wake-up call. So could mummifying the bike in toilet paper (later, masking tape) or bright pink crepe paper.

Also, if the bike seat has a slip cover, then a small stinkbomb could be fit up under there. Not that I know that from experience, mind you.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:35 AM on November 22, 2004


To answer the original question: in junior high, when I first saw a bike rack (not a lot of them in the suburbs), I didn't realize you were supposed to park your bike perpendicularly to them, so I parked my bike alongside it (I didn't lock it up, just parked it). The wasn't used very much, so my bike was pretty much the only one ever there, and I didn't realize until much later when I saw a rack with several bikes on it that you were supposed to park perpendicularly.

I seriously doubt that what you're seeing is due to an influx of dumb junior high kids, but it is a possibility.
posted by Bugbread at 7:47 AM on November 22, 2004


Can anyone explain why certain asshats insist on parking their bikes horizontally against the front of bike racks?

because many kinds of bike racks are prone to scratching... its dumb to ride a nice bike to work, but some do it... some drive hummers too.

do you seriously live in a place where the bike racks are full on a regular basis? and you dont think this is, like, some kind of eden? count your blessing, bike rider! as a fellow cyclist/bike-commuter arent you on the same team as these folks? doesnt that override their selfishness some?

glad to see some mefites suggest leaving a note.

to those who suggest sabotage: shame.
posted by RockyChrysler at 8:00 AM on November 22, 2004


Similar phenomenon: assholes who intentionally park across two parking spaces so nobody will (accidentally!) ding their precious. Oh, how I've been tempted.

(On spellcheck: spellcheck doesn't have "assholes"?! What kind of board are you trying to run here?)
posted by callmejay at 9:11 AM on November 22, 2004


What profwhat said.

If you absolutely must do something, leave a note. Most likely the person is oblivious and will start using the rack properly if you ask. If that doesn't work, talk to whoever's responsible for the rack.

Do not vandalize their bike. Not even the air-out-of-the-tires-to-let-them-know-you're-serious trick. Even if they're not oblivious, even if they're an absolute me-first-and-damn-the-rest-of-you asshole. Your time is worth more than that. Let it go.
posted by amery at 9:20 AM on November 22, 2004


Is it a design problem with the racks? Some (generally older) racks are stupidly designed, such that you can only lock a single wheel at at time to them. Most cyclists want to lock at least a wheel and the frame to the immovable part of the rack, and doing so might consume more than one bikes worth if the design is poor. If, on the other hand, these are the more modern and sensible racks, like 'sheffield racks' say, then yes, you're dealing with an asshat.

Please don't damage the offending bike.
posted by normy at 9:43 AM on November 22, 2004


if it's a matter of them wanting to lock both tires, they should be doing that with a linking cable. I think the note is a nice idea, but letting the air out of their tires is fine. Honey, while cute, seems like a bit of a hassle. Pancaking isn't justified, period.
posted by cmyr at 9:58 AM on November 22, 2004


Ball bearings are an easy way to let the air out of tires without hanging around for very long. Lift the air cap. Insert ball bearing. Restore air cap. Walk away.
posted by shepd at 10:02 AM on November 22, 2004


Leave a note.

If the first note doesn't get any response, leave a fake "official" note.

If that doesn't get any response, bring honey. (Or Limburger cheese, which is my favorite non-permanent desecration tool.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:11 AM on November 22, 2004


One other possibility: many of the old style bike racks not only fail to accomodate locking both wheels but, if you're riding a 700c bike without a lot of clearance between the front wheel and the down tube, they won't even accomodate one wheel. They're too short to fit a 700c wheel under and if you don't have a lot of clearance under the downtube, you can't hang it over the top of the rack either. So you either have to park sideways in the rack or lock up at the end (why this person doesn't do the latter is beyond me).
posted by leecifer at 10:17 AM on November 22, 2004


You simply cannot go through life taking it upon yourself to punish every asshole you encounter.

I don't agree with the calls for vandalism, but I don't agree with this statement either. Bad behavior left unchallenged will multiply, despoiling the environment and mental well being of us all.

The bike didn't give offense; target the one responsible. Passive-aggressivity is uncool.
posted by rushmc at 10:22 AM on November 22, 2004


callmejay: one of those nametags in the middle of the windshield: Hello My Name Is: Incompetent Selfish Parker
Non-destructive yet completely annoying; that's a win-win in my book.
posted by TimeFactor at 10:31 AM on November 22, 2004


I think it's fun to note that those who promoted vandalising the bicycle are the same ones who rabidly support Critical Mass.

Seriously, don't vandalise someone else's shit, you asshats. When I ride to work all of the people at my office know what my bike looks like, and if they see anyone even looking at it funny they tell me. I probably wouldn't go outside and beat the shit out of you, but I most certainly would be sure to get a good ID on you and take video with my digital camera, and then call the police.

Leave a note. If the behaviour still doesn't stop, figure out who it is (usually not hard with a little detective work) and then confront them.
posted by SpecialK at 10:53 AM on November 22, 2004


Bad behavior left unchallenged will multiply, despoiling the environment and mental well being of us all.

Yes, selfishness is a disease and the cure is demonstration that there are harsh repercussions for taking more than your share.

The bike didn't give offense; target the one responsible. Passive-aggressivity is uncool.

I'm all for confronting assholes. Unfortunately, in this case it entails loitering around the bike rack like a sex offender waiting for the owner's return. A note reading "Hey, you're being inconsiderate" will merely result in the thought of "Fuck you! I'm somehow entitled to the whole bike rack, and anything else I want. I'm the best!"

And should you meet the Lord of the Bike Rack, there are three options:

- A shouting match that goes nowhere

- A physical altercation that you lose, accomplishing nothing

- A physical altercation that you win, along with a probable assault conviction. (Yes, vandalism is a crime, but it's a lot easier to get away with.)

Fair warning with a note, followed by degrees of Unique Snowflake's property is just the most effective solution in this scenario. Idealists are free to ignore transgressions and start a Love Train, but some of us are tired of laughing off people pissing on us.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:00 AM on November 22, 2004


Ball bearings are an easy way to let the air out of tires without hanging around for very long.

A core remover will do it even better. :-)

Personally, I like the idea of locking their bike to the rack. Unlock it the next day, promise a longer time-out next.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:21 AM on November 22, 2004


Oh, what FFF said. That's really brilliant--it doesn't damage the bike, but it does inconvenience the owner.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:11 PM on November 22, 2004


Also, I love "Unique Snowflake".
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:14 PM on November 22, 2004


The locking to the bike rack is good; I like it. As long as you don't damage the bike it's fine by me, but when you start vandalizing other people's stuff in ways that costs them more than time and frustration ... ... I have a serious problem with anyone who would suggest property damage as a way to cure a social problem.

Curley, you really are an asshole. Why the hell are you personally offended and feeling 'pissed on' by someone taking up more than "their share" of bike rack? Who the hell died and made you god?
I'm all for confronting assholes, too, which is why you and I argue on MeFi all the time.
posted by SpecialK at 1:16 PM on November 22, 2004


And apparently on AskMefi, too, where it definitely isn't appreciated.
posted by Hildago at 1:24 PM on November 22, 2004


Bad behavior left unchallenged will multiply, despoiling the environment and mental well being of us all.

I agree completely. You don't want to operate inside of the guidelines and norms society has erected? Fine. Reap the anarchy you sow. You are not the ubermench, you are not achieving spiritual nirvana by going against the grain. You are pissing a lot of people off, however.

I'm sick and tired of people who happily take advantage of people's civility because they selfishly think they're more important than everyone else. If you want to remain a happy, productive member of society, you will play by the rules, or pay the consequences. Sometimes those consequences will involve prison, sometimes honey, sometimes vandalism. Sometimes all of the above.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:14 PM on November 22, 2004


Oooo, I just came up with an idea.

Get a professional metal sign made that looks like the local street signs. Attach a money box below.

Write on it:

"Charitable donation month. Please consider leaving a $0.25 donation per rack space used in support of starving orphans with lukemia."

Attach it to said bike rack.

The guy might not feel like a heel, but after a day or two, someone watching is sure to speak up and say "Where the hell is your $5, asshole? You hate starving orphans or something?"
posted by shepd at 2:33 PM on November 22, 2004


Curley, you really are an asshole. Why the hell are you personally offended and feeling 'pissed on' by someone taking up more than "their share" of bike rack?

Because the rule is "one bicycle, one space." Everyone knows this. Some people feel an amazing sense of entitlement, so they take more than their share.

People who feel said sense of entitlement need to be taught that their feeling is not, in fact, valid. If we all operated on this "me first and fuck you" principle, ultimately society would not function as everyone grabbed what they could, wrecked what they didn't need and left their trash behind for someone else to deal with.

I am personally offended that people see a resource to be shared and elect not to share if they can help it. Those people should be purged from a good society, but I am not yet in a position to do that. So destroying their implements of selfishness seems the best option.

Don't think I'm an asshole. I want to help you. Unless you think you deserve the whole bike rack. In which case you're right to hate me, because you I would hate you.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:19 PM on November 22, 2004


Nobody seemed to notice that Leecifer had the actual answer. In addition, the rear derailleur usually prevents locking the rear wheel to the rack. No sane person would leave an expensive bike locked to a rack for more than a few minutes. Then again, most people with nice bikes never carry locks.
posted by rotifer at 5:01 PM on November 22, 2004


Wait a minute. I have the answer! I can't believe I didn't think of this before.

Go to a second hand store. Pick up the worst, cheapest, most broken bike available. I wouldn't pay more than $10 for it. I'd also probably bend up the wheels and remove the seat so there's no reason to steal it. Heck, while you're at it, tear up the tires in an obvious manner.

Lock this bike in the rack one night when "the asshole" has left. Lock it in there permanently, never remove it. You could even leave a note on it "Because other people use this rack, too".

There you go. Now he'll have to lock up properly, and you're all set, no vandalism charges, no getting beaten up, no nothing.
posted by shepd at 5:18 PM on November 22, 2004


Or lock the crappy bike to the offending bike.
posted by rushmc at 7:35 PM on November 22, 2004


I have to say, after reading this thread, I'm ashamed to count myself a cyclist.

I'm not one of you. I'm a sane person who likes to ride a bike.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:26 PM on November 22, 2004


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