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Brandeis/Roberts wretched rack!

The bicycle rack shown in the image below appeared sometime in the late summer or early fall of 2006 at the Brandeis-Roberts MBTA commuter rail station on South Street in Waltham, Massachusetts.

The wretched rack, Saturday, October 22, 2006
That's my bike, locked as best I could.
No, I didn't leave it there!

DSCF0045Bike rack.JPG (43205 bytes)

Most bike racks at Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority stations are sturdy "ribbon racks" which secure the frame of the bicycle along with one or both wheels. They're good enough if you ride a beater bike to the station. (Only a bike locker or monitored bikestation parking is adequate, though, for day-after-day commuter storage of a valuable bike, or one that looks valuable).

The Brandeis-Roberts rack is a dishdrainer rack -- the moldy oldie kind that lets you lock only one wheel, and bends the wheel if the bike falls over -- but with a difference. Traditional dishdrainer racks are made of heavy galvanized steel pipe. The Brandeis/Roberts rack is a Tinkertoy-like assembly of pieces of "Speed Rail" tubing, joined by fittings which can be disassembled with an ordinary Allen wrench! And the vertical tubes are flexy enough to suggest that a hacksaw would go through them in a minute or less. The rack is held down by hooks of bent re-bar pounded into the ground -- a couple are visible near the closer end of the rack in the photo -- rather than by a concrete footing as in previous MBTA construction.

I wondered whether this rack was installed by the MBTA, or whether Brandeis University or a local property owner might have provided it. I find it difficult to believe that the MBTA would retreat from its better bike rack design to this one. But the MBTA shouldn't even allow racks like this on its property, in my opinion.

But, when I announced this page on the Massbike e-mail list on October 24 2006, I got a quick response from William Hanson, of Framingham:

I suspect the MBTA installed the Waltham rack because an identical rack recently appeared at the Framingham commuter rail station.

That pretty much says that the MBTA installed the racks -- it's hard to imagine a bike rack Tinkerbell hovering overhead, waving her magic wand, and Tinkertoy racks appear, **** poof ****. I mean, a Good Fairy generally makes Good Choices!

Well, I've been told that I should say at least one nice thing in any critical comments I make. So I will. The rack tubes have a plastic coating so the paint on your bicycle won't be scratched, improving its resale value for the thief who takes it :-)