Do you know that it is illegal for you to lock your bike up to a parking meter in Minneapolis? It’s true, check out the regulations on the city’s website (pdf link).
Any trip to an area with old style parking meters in the area and you can see that cyclists either aren’t aware of this regulation, or don’t particularly care.
With a switch to new electronic meters intend for an entire block we made the argument back in April, that these new meters should be considered street signs and therefore legal parking. We took it one step further and suggested that the city look into installing loops on the new posts for bike parking.
Well, ask and you shall receive. While we are sure that it had absolutely nothing to do with our post, the City of Minneapolis has now rolled out some experimental hybrid parking meter signs/ bike parking poles in various spots around the city. We stopped to check out the one located in Dinkytown (just one on the street), but two more have been installed in Downtown.
It appears that they each have a slightly different style while the City attempts to determine what style they want to use, or if they should expand the program. The one we used Dinkytown, on 14th Ave SE between 4th St and University, worked well for our purposes.
The question for us is, what is proper use? Are the loops intended so that you can lock your bike to the pole, without the lock being able to slid up and over the top? Or, did they intended you to lock onto the loops? If it is the latter they were too high for the traditional U-Lock through the front wheel (see picture below), however, that could be easily accomplished below the loops.
Whether or not the city ultimately adopts one of these solutions we applaud them for giving it a shot first, before purchasing 100,000 and rolling them out.
If you have used one of these and have some feedback, head over to the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition’s website to comment. While you are there, check out the other locations of the test poles and a picture of a different style.