[*BCM*] Back Bay Bike Racks

Paul Schimek schimek at alum.mit.edu
Tue Nov 28 16:16:42 EST 2006

I misspoke when Vineet called me last week about this. It wasn't Landmarks
that blocked it; it was the Back Bay Architectural District, one of the
Historic Districts. The issue was the lawsuit over their guidelines for
placing newsboxes. They advised us to withdraw the application for
installing bike racks until after the suit was decided. Although they said
their policy on sidewalk structures would permit bike racks (as a government
thing rather than a private thing), they feared that permitting them would
undermine their legal argument. I never understood that, but I (stupidly)
agreed to withdraw the application, even though I had already scouted out a
bunch of locations in the Back Bay. Then the next construction season I was
scrambling to get the 100 good racks in the ground before the June 30, 2003
deadline for getting reimbursed by the state - we had no city money and were
relying on a grant that I had wrote in 1996 (long before being hired by
BTD). There were another 100+ rusty racks that were languishing on the
contractor's lot for lack of about $6,000 (as I recall) in payment to the
manufacturers. The contractor, Safety Last, wouldn't pay the manufacturer,
which prevented them from being re-coated. Therefore I had no racks nor time
to get permission from the Historic Commission - besides, the lawsuit wasn't
settled. I did a web search yesterday and found that it was finally settled
in August 2004 (in favor of the city).

I did put in racks in the few areas that were not within the Historic
District - Mass Ave between Huntington and Boylston, and the south side of
Boylston Street. The latter ended up being between Arlington and Boylston
only, because the owners of the Clarendon to Boylston superblock would have
probably physically stopped us from putting them in. I also tried to do the
John Hancock building, but never got final permission. Copley Square is
brick so I couldn't do that. The library had already installed some racks,
as had the Prudential Center.


Anyway, we are looking to get the city to clarify its secret, unlawful
policy that bikes are not permitted to be locked to public property (does
that include bike racks too?) and can be confiscated at any time without
notice. And then maybe they will install some of the free bike racks that
MAPC is offering. Nah, probably they won't. Hizzoner hates bicyclists too


--Paul Schimek

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