Bad bike rack design has Edmonton's Brewery District owners backpedalling

Edmonton cyclists are getting warning notices when they lock their bikes to street signs in the Brewery District. But they say their bike locks simply don`t fit around the shopping centre's newly installed bike racks.

Chelsea Butler tried to lock her bike to the racks before getting groceries at the Loblaws, but the bar of the rack was too thick for her U-lock to fit.

"I couldn't lock up both my frame and my wheel," Butler said. "I just thought this was a rack that had been designed by someone who had never ridden a bike or gotten one stolen."

She locked it to a sign along the sidewalk outside the Loblaws grocery store instead.

When she returned she noticed a warning ticket in the bike's basket. It was issued by security and said she violated traffic regulations and her bike was parked without authorization. It did not come with any type of fine.

"I was pretty annoyed and I thought it was pretty ironic so I kind of laughed at it," she said. "They didn't provide me with any alternative but to use that sign."

Edmonton's zoning bylaws state that bicycle parking should accommodate locking the frame and one wheel to the rack, railing, or other such device with a high security U-shaped shackle lock.

First Capital Realty owns the property and said their 24 bike racks in the Brewery District passed city approval. But lately they've been getting more complaints about the racks as more people have been cycling to the district.

"The design we have looks cool but it's not functional, so we're going to focus on functionality first and worry about the design as the secondary consideration," said Ralph Huizinga, Western Canada's vice-president of acquisitions and development for First Capital Realty.

He says the racks will be replaced with a new design within a few weeks, and the company is planning to add more racks than the 24 that exist now because of a higher demand.

Butler said she'd be happy to use racks that actually work for her bike.

"I'm just really happy that they listened to feedback and are going to take some action."