December is bike cage month in DotBike land, as DEHC’s Pete Stidman and DotBike’s Vivian Girard have been gathering support for a bike cage at the JFK/UMass station near Columbia Point. The MBTA is building six to 10 bike cages within their transit and commuter rail system as part of a $4.8 million chunk of stimulus money specifically targeted to improving bike parking.
DEHC used the Freedom of Information Act to acquire a list of all the stations the T is considering for the new cages, as well as 50 bike shelters they intend to build. What we discovered is a strange bias toward suburban stations, and the likelihood that there would not be a bike cage in Dorchester, where bike theft is the number one deterrent to cycling!
As it turned out, the proximity of other stations worked against Dorchester and other urban neighborhoods in the T’s assessment of need for bike cages. They didn’t prioritize the positive effect on bike-ability neighborhood density has, nor the fact that cyclists might avoid other nearby stations due to theft risk. And most surprising-they didn’t compare or even look at rates of bike theft for any station!
Earlier this month Girard and Stidman met with the project director, the T’s Erik Scheier, and convinced him to add JFK/UMass to the list of 15 stations being considered as Dorchester’s second-best choice for a cage (Ashmont is DotBike and DEHC’s first choice, but space is limited there due to the new station design).
To make this argument, DEHC asked the MBTA’s Transit Police for five-years’ worth of bike theft statistics for each station being considered for a bike cage. JFK/UMass came in ninth, even though other surveys showed far fewer bikes are generally parked there than at other stations.
DEHC believes the majority of cyclists already know that parking at JFK/UMass is high-risk for theft, and don’t park there. And with UMass-Boston a stone’s throw away, there is likely a pent-up demand for secure bike parking at the station.
So far, the McCormack Civic Association and the Columbia Savin Hill Civic Association have voted unanimously to support the bike cage, and we are waiting to hear back from UMass-Boston, which has given us some positive signals.
Scheier is also organizing a meeting of bike advocates from across the city in January to help determine which stations get the cages. Stay tuned to the Green Dot to read the results, and feel free to call (617-222-3214) or email (email@example.com) Scheier directly to tell him where you think a bike cage should go.