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PotomacCyclist
02-17-2016, 03:47 PM
Is there any way to improve the rustproofing at the base of the bike stations? I've noticed that many of the stations have serious rust damage. They are exposed to a lot of salt, rain and snow. They are also subject to dirt, gravel and scuffing, which can chip or scrape away at any rustproofing treatments and surface protection. Is there a better way that would fit in the budget? Maybe a thick plastic covering over the base section of the stations? Would that be prohibitively expensive to add to every station?

I've read that the current equipment order is the last one from the original supplier. Future expansion could be based on new equipment built or contracted out by Motivate (instead of using the older Bixi designs and equipiment suppliers). Do those have better rustproofing? Or is it just not possible at a reasonable cost?

mstone
02-17-2016, 07:59 PM
Is there any way to improve the rustproofing at the base of the bike stations? I've noticed that many of the stations have serious rust damage. They are exposed to a lot of salt, rain and snow. They are also subject to dirt, gravel and scuffing, which can chip or scrape away at any rustproofing treatments and surface protection. Is there a better way that would fit in the budget? Maybe a thick plastic covering over the base section of the stations? Would that be prohibitively expensive to add to every station?

A plastic cover would probably make things worse by retaining moisture and concentrating salts. Changing the metal or the surface treatment are probably better options. A reasonable question is what the expected lifespan of a dock is (at some point they're going to want a tech refresh, right?) Does the rust cause a failure before it's time to replace the station anyway? Does reducing the failure rate by spending more on materials save more money than replacing an occasional dock?

PotomacCyclist
02-18-2016, 09:21 AM
Apart from the cost analysis is the safety issue. Those rusted edges can be sharp and of course there is the risk of tetanus. By design, a lot of people are walking next to the bike stations. I see many riders in the summer who wear sandals or flip-flops on CaBi. While that may not be the smartest practice, it's not uncommon. It's pretty easy to cut or scrape a toe on a rusted station platform. There are also potential issues with children and pets who walk near and on the stations. (I've seen many schoolkids and visiting families with young kids climbing on and around the stations and bikes out of curiosity. No harm, no foul as far as I'm concerned, but the rusted station bases can be hazardous to them as well as to everyone else.)

Plus the rusted stations look terrible. While some may downplay the importance of aesthetics, I think it matters. When infrastructure starts to look run-down and shabby, it can influence opinions and attitudes. Imagine if there were a burned-out townhouse on Pennsylvania Ave. People would be up in arms about that and campaign to have it renovated or replaced. WMATA has long had a policy of removing graffiti quickly, based on the "broken windows" concept. The same might apply with CaBi. If the system appears to be falling apart in a few years, it may not be as popular as it is now. That could lead to fewer trips, then less political support for the system and a vicious downward cycle (pun sort of intended).

It also matters with the National Park Service, if only to lessen their objections (whether good faith or not) about aesthetics of bike stations in prominent areas like the National Mall. Rusted bike station hulks make it more difficult to convince NPS to allow additional bike stations there. Even though there are now some stations on the Mall, there is still a need for several more. Many of the most popular Smithsonian museums do not have a bike station nearby, but they should. CaBi has already proven to be tremendously popular with tourists/visitors, and the big Smithsonian museums on the Mall are among the most popular museums in the entire world. None of the museums on the north side of the Mall have bike stations. That includes the very popular American History Museum and the Natural History Museum, plus the two buildings of the National Gallery. The African American History and Culture Museum is opening this Fall. No bike station there either. Plus there really needs to be a bike station near the WWII Memorial and possibly another one near the Washington Monument.

I don't know what the lifespan is, but we know that it's at least 5.5 years (the current life of the overall CaBi system). None of the stations have been replaced and I don't think they will be in the near future.

I don't think a cover for existing stations would do anything. I was wondering more about the design of the future stations. After the current expansion round, we might see the newer Motivate stations and bikes that are being used for the latest expansion round in NYC. I haven't seen those stations up close. I hope they have improved resistance to rust.