No Bicycles on Poles?

No Bicycles on Poles
No Bicycles on Poles sign

Another member of the Bicycle Committee posted a picture of one of these signs on Facebook recently, and the discussion there was lively. Should these signs be removed? Probably. Will they be? Probably not.

There are a number of these “No Bicycles on Poles” signs on the poles along Standish St. next to the beach taxi parking spaces for Art’s Dune Tours. They’ve been there as long as anyone can remember. And they’re completely unenforceable.

I think it actually makes sense to prohibit parking to these particular street sign poles during the summer. There is constant activity on this sidewalk, with people and vehicles coming and going, loading into vans for dune tours. Having bikes parked on these sign poles would probably impede that activity. Which is likely why they were posted in the first place.

But at this spring’s Annual Town Meeting, an article was voted down to prohibit parking bikes to street sign poles. The article was proposed by the Bicycle Committee, and I presented it at Town Meeting. We didn’t expect any opposition, so I was woefully unprepared in my presentation (file under lessons learned for next time). The only voices in favor were advocates for the disabled, most notably the town’s Disability Commission. But there were many more speakers in opposition, citing the need for better enforcement from the police, not more regulation. The town’s bylaw already says that bikes blocking the sidewalk will be removed, it just isn’t enforced. During the discussion, the Acting Chief of Police stated that we probably need 3 to 4 times the amount of bike parking than what we have in town. There seemed to be a lot of general agreement that we need more bike parking, which is something the Bicycle Committee is working on.

So with that Town Meeting vote, the bicycle parking regulation stands as it is, stating that you can park a bike to a street sign pole or to a bike rack.

And at the end of the day, these signs are not a regulation, just a suggestion.

Notes:
1) The reason the Bicycle Committee proposed the change to prohibit parking bikes on street sign poles was pretty simple: Sidewalks in town are typically very narrow (about 3 ft wide), and parking a bike on a pole tends to block the sidewalk. Sign poles are also in really strange locations. Sometimes they’re on the street side of the curb — actually in the street. Sometimes they’re on the other side of the sidewalk, right up against the property line. Usually they’re right up against the curb, which means the a bike that’s parked to a pole has a pedal jutting into the street. And bikes often fall over and block the sidewalk and end up in half in the street.
2) One of the town’s selectmen posted to a Facebook thread saying they’d “look into it”, but I don’t expect these signs to go away.

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