Bikesider and Bikerowave volunteer Kyle Pfister recently posted the account below (on Bikerowave’s forums) about his terrible experience with UCLA bike lockers.
Before I give you Kyle’s account – some editorializing. Since I first got involved cycling issues, planners have trotted out lockers as the holy grail of bike parking. Kyle’s account aptly summarizes why I think bike lockers are way way overrated. Bike lockers require lots of supervision. In addition to being expensive, any bike locker system requires regular maintenance, as well as administrative oversight. Some bike locker systems, like the one at UCLA, use a reservation system which requires additional supervision. Bike lockers are expensive to buy, tough to maintain, and ask a great deal from the user, relative to bike racks.
There’s no substitute for a cheap, well placed, and properly installed bike rack. I have one in my living room! Mihai Peteu managed to get some installed in his UCLA building. When done right, they do the track. Done right (and they usually aren’t) bike racks are examples of good design: simple, functional, and nearly self explanatory.
I’m headed up to UCLA for a lecture tonight and was worried about locking up my bike, did a little searching and found this:
I just signed up for this service and reserved a locker for my bike, will report about my experience
How do we get these things everywhere?
YIKES! UCLA bike lockers are not all that I’d hoped for, maybe this is something everyone already knows about, and I’m late to the party, but I don’t know if I’d bother with this again.
1. Web & Phone interface for reserving the lockers is so bare bones, I had no idea what the per hour rate for the locker was prior to reserving it, and was not informed anywhere that when you call to reserve it, it is immediately yours IE don’t call in advance call when you get there.
2. Parking attendants didn’t even know where lockers were, and they were located in a rather out of the way and secluded place on the bottom floor
3. It was clear this was a very underutilized system and that no maintenance or cleaning had taken place since installation
4. When I typed in the combo that was given to me over the phone line, A DIFFERENT LOCKER OPENED UP, NOT THE ONE I RESERVED!!!!!!!!!!! and there was a bike inside! worse yet it appears that that bike had been abandoned, so I called again to get a new combo making sure to type in the correct ID for the locker I wanted and the wrong one opened again.
5. Third time was the charm, went ahead and ran my u-lock through my frame and back wheel just in case, almost didn’t use the locker but I was running late for my lecture so went through with it.
6. Because the wrong door kept opening, when I called to get the combo to get my bike out, it was unclear whether I was starting a new reservation or finishing my old one, I suspect I will be charged for several reservations and for all I know the computer thinks my bike is still in there, good thing a day is only a dollar, and I got the phone number for customer service so I’ll call them later
So while I thought this system would offer me total piece of mind during the lecture I was almost as worried about my bike being stolen as if I had locked it up outside, however at least my bike was out of sight, and someone would have to be a member to get the door to open so I guess theft was unlikely, but because the system didn’t seem to work properly and the interface was so confusing I’d be unlikely to try it again.