Friday, December 13, 2013

In Which I Take A Rack Tour of MMU

So, I’m still off the bike. It was warm enough today to ride, and the sidewalks and streets in my neighborhood are clear enough, but the quiet residential streets along my route in the Kenwood area have not been cleared of snow, thus they still have that special Cedar Rapids white winter icing which keeps me off two wheels.

I checked online. The city’s web site says that busy routes are priority one for snow removal, and residential streets are priority two. Based on my experience as a bike commuter, priority two is pretty much priority zero in much of the city. Not that I blame the city for making busy streets a priority, it’s just frustrating that so many residential streets never get plowed.

Anyway, enough of that whining. I've written about that issue before. On to a new topic: I was walking across campus today, going back to my office, and I was thinking about bike racks. Here is where I saw them:
New bike rack by Regina Hall, I use it when I'm at bell practice in the evening.

The first is across the drive from the library, next to Regina Hall. It’s a new one, installed just this school year. I am not sure why, with a giant overhang on the library, the rack is located in a grassy area out in the open, but it’s an accessible and usable rack. However, I doubt bikes will do the grass much good, and bikes may get in the way of mowing—I hope Francis never gets sprinkled with grass clippings some fine warm spring day.
Nursing building rack--it's up there, across the tundra. Not a very busy one, and one I've only used a few times. It's on a brick patio that is not cleared in winter--but since it doesn't lead to a door, I can see why they do not clear it.

The next rack is up on the U Center plaza, by the nursing building. As you can see, it doesn't get a lot of use this time of year. It’s an old-school rack, not that easy to use, but it’s there.
No bike rack at new U Center, but it's close to both Regina Hall and Nursing Building racks.
Third is the U Center itself, a big central gathering space that has no bike parking at all. I've parked there before by chaining to the railing, although if I were to spend much time there, I would use the Donnelly rack.
Lundy porch. There is a bike rack here, and not one of the bikes is attached to it.

Next up is the porch area of Lundy Commons, which seems to have the maximum number of bikes found on campus. Note that although there is a rack, none of the bikes use it--maybe because the rack isn't attached to anything? I’m sure it’s the popular spot due to the roof. There’s a lesson there—when possible, it’s nice to locate bike racks under something that protects the bikes from rain or snow.
You've seen this one before. No Francis right now. Even if I rode, not sure I would leave my bike in snow this deep.
Finally, good old Warde Hall, where my usual chosen rack is located. It may be a while before Francis gets locked here, though. Even if we get some warmer, sunny days that take the icing off the streets, it will take a bit longer for the snow here to recede, which means I’ll probably be parking Francis inside when I start to ride again.

MMU has done, in my opinion, a decent enough job providing bike parking. The placement and design of those racks isn't always where a biker would put them, but they are available.

Ideal bike rack placement isn't the U’s top priority, and rightly so, I suppose. And they did add a new rack this year, which is a sign of a desire to be bike friendly.

Whatever you can say about MMU's bike rack placement, it’s not that which prevents me from riding Francis right now. That has more to do with Mother Nature and residential streets that the city never plows.

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