Drug dealing & defecation prompt bike rack removal at main library

 

The only evidence bicycle racks used to be here is several holes that have been filled in.

The only evidence bicycle racks used to be here is several holes that have been filled in.

Drug dealing, fights and defecation around the Main Library bike racks prompted the city to remove them.

Peg Weber a Tucson Parks and Recreation administrator said the racks, which are located just outside the children’s section of the library, had become a hotspot for illegal activity.

Weber said the library requested the racks be removed because of the proximity to the children. The racks were shaded and when bicycles were parked there prevented the security guards and other people in the plaza from seeing what was happening behind them.

She said the police already patrol that area a lot, but that it wasn’t enough so she pulled the racks.

“There is only so much enforcement you can do,” Weber said. “Police indicate it is the single most visited site downtown. The racks were removed and the problems went away.

Weber said she recognizes that the library needs more bike parking and is working with the Downtown Subcommittee of the Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee to determine the best sport for new racks.

“I am really trying to listen hard to what folks who park there need or want to have,” she said.

The city’s bike and pedestrian program manager Ann Chanecka was one of several people to help identify a new location for bike racks to serve the library.

“We are trying to find a good spot that meets various and sometimes competing interests,” Chanecka said.

Weber said her first priority was shade, but after meeting with the BAC members realized that their priority was being able to see the bikes from the library.

She said they determined the best location would be about 40 yards away from the main entrance. She said for now it wouldn’t have a lot of shade, but that the parks department would try to find a way to provide shade in the future.

The new bike rack location will likely be in the dirt area between the benches.

The new bike rack location will likely be in the dirt area between the benches.

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23 comments
Orvis
Orvis

So those racks were removed some time in June of 2013.  There was a plan for replacements, it got nixed.  Many months later we were told 4-6 weeks artsy racks will be installed that was more like 12 weeks plus ago and every time I ride by that downtown library I look for new racking and all I see are the perimeter loops.  It seems like such a simple thing, designate a spot install the racks.  From my perspective as a user of this facility this inability to provide respectful bicycle parking at a well used public facility speaks volumes about why platinum will remain out of our grasp and how gold may not hang around forever.  Cycle tracks are great but really I'd just like somewhere convenient and safe to park my bicycle after I've used the current cycling infrastructure.  


Nate
Nate

Just tear that whole library down and start over that thing is a JOKE.

Opus the Poet
Opus the Poet

Waitaminit! Does this mean we can get parking lots plowed under when they start having crime problems, or is this just a tactic reserved for two-wheeled people?

huesername
huesername

Bikes Books Drugs Trolleys = Portlandia Moniker is spot on 

Erik Ryberg
Erik Ryberg

Much as I hate to say it, I don't think the blame falls on TPD here, I think it falls on some library administrator.  

There's so much about this story that isn't ringing true and that sounds like post-hoc rationalization.  Proximity to children?  I assume that is because the children's section is the one on the other side of the window from the bike racks. But then the story says the racks blocked the illegal activity, "preventing the security guards from seeing what was happening."  Why could children witness all this illegal activity in this so-called "hotspot" but the security guards couldn't?

How long had those bike racks been there before all this illegal activity in this hotspot was noticed?  Ten years?  Isn't that enough time to put in new bike racks somewhere else, and *then* remove the old ones?

Exactly how many incidents were there?  Was this a new trend? If it was a new trend, why blame it on the bike racks?  How many incidents were reported to the police?  These racks were removedvery quickly, before even considering relocating them, as if some incident required their immediate eradication.  It seems like an over reaction to me, and because the spokespeople only speak in generalizations about "hotspots" it's impossible to know. 

Then this business about the illegal activity "going away."  Oh come on, the only thing that "went away" is the bike rack. The illegal activity didn't "go away," it just moved.  There is surely the same quantum of illegal activity in Tucson now as before--the bike rack did not cause the illegal activity.

I sympathize with the librarians and all they put up with, and I believe that something happened at the bike rack.  But I think they overreacted.  I think they could have installed, or at least had a plan to install, a new bike rack before taking the old one out.  

I want to see a new bike rack, larger than before, and hopefully something designed BY LOCAL ARTISTS rather than those dumb corporate wiggly things.  Maybe we can get something positive out of this.

Red Star
Red Star

It's essentially a TPD fail. The county librarian, the bike/ped coordinator, the obtuse parks director, the bike committee, et al, etc, etc can flail about with stupid Old Pueblo silo, anti-cyclist, anti-library patron "solutions" all they want and enjoy the distracting bureaucratic drama. But when you get right down to it, that library,  is a few blocks away from TPD Headquarters. 

It's a TPD fail, cyclists pay. 

James
James

Isn't this area still shaded, public, but now with more space for people to hang out? How about some signage and security cameras? Then arrest the drug dealers an hour later with the tape as evidence? Seems like the problem might disappear pretty quick.

Frank Tellez
Frank Tellez

This is why we can't have nice things, someone always craps things up. Lol, sorry, I couldn't resist a poop joke. Uh.. I don't want to park in the dirt. That's where all the weird people hang out. I want to park inside the library in front of the security guard where the display cases are now. 

3wheeler
3wheeler

Once again the law abiding majority pays for acts of the deviant minority.  Tucson has high numbers of homeless because of the relatively mild winter weather and because we don't throw them out like some other cities do.  Tucson is friendly towards the homeless because we want to be compassionate.  It's good to be compassionate, but the way to help homeless people is to determine why they are homeless and do something about it.  Some are down on their luck, some are mental, some are drug addicts, some are lazy, some are avoiding paying child support, some are combinations of the above.  Give them treatment as applies, but don't let them hang out.  Just letting people hang out on the streets does not help them, it is not being compassionate, it's cruel.   

chenley333
chenley333

I think some of the issue is that the plaza around the library is technically a public park, so you can't really enforce loitering laws - there has to be some other criminal activity going on.

zz
zz

It's funny how TPD couldn't eliminate illegal and offensive behavior in this little, tiny area. Maybe it would have required obtaining some grant money like they do for 'stinging' bikes.

So who's dealing with this behavior now?

Bike Rider 11
Bike Rider 11

Little bit "knee-jerky", with emphasis on "jerk", to go "jerking" away valid bicycle parking without first having the alternative bicycle parking in place.

Bob H
Bob H

How to have public spaces for all, but not filled with loitering bums?  Somehow the university grounds are free of the homeless hanging out. Is it as simple as loitering laws? Several runners have told me being harassed by homeless bike gangs along the Santa Cruz .  Someone hauling groceries on a utility bike and a vagabond living off a bike appears much the same to many people. Bike parking is becoming more of an issue everywhere as more are riding. 

LytylNynja
LytylNynja

Why can't they just enforce no loitering? Seems like that is the actual issue. Instead they're just going to punish us cyclists that ride down there? Lame. Just lame.


pedalpics
pedalpics

That is one of the most confusing reason ever to help fight drug dealing. There is no mention to how the bike racks were aiding the drug dealing so I am missing the link? I work downtown and walk by the library almost everyday. If they are gonna start removing things there maybe they should start with the electrical outlets on the pillars the homeless use to wire plugs to their phones. Or maybe just start enforcing the no loitering laws. That entire park has become a homeless encampment. Yet they just remove the bike racks. Downtown continues is slide towards being less bike friendly.

Red Star
Red Star

@Erik Ryberg  not convincing. TPD should have been involved and engaged the whole proactive "reach out to" (to use modern bureaucratic jargon) thing to the simple county librarian, the simple city parks and rec lady.

James
James

Oh wait. The police are "understaffed" and would never be able to have time to do such a thing.

MikeMcKisson
MikeMcKisson moderator

@pedalpics The connection seemed a little thin to me too, but I didn't do a good job relating their argument. Apparently the racks became a gathering spot. When bikes were parked there including some of the homeless' bikes it basically shielded what was happening behind them from the view of the plaza and the security guards at the library. They did say since they removed the parking, they have had less problems at that spot. 


pedalpics
pedalpics

@MikeMcKisson @pedalpics Couldn't they still just prop all their bikes up with kickstands in the same area and provide themselves with the same coverage? When you go by there you always see large groups of the homeless bike brigades parked together. Maybe they should just ban bikes there all together?

Orvis
Orvis

@Erik Ryberg  Agreed that in an ideal world one set of racks would have disappeared as another appeared.  The library isn't responsible for the racks.  The city parks department is.  Jurisdictional latencies multiplying being at least some of the reason for the delay, that and cyclists wanting to actually meet on site and comment on the possibilities for relocation.

None of this should be read as me be an apologist for the library administration and or the city parks department.  If a similar problem had arisen regarding homeless and the parking garage I'm relatively certain that the solution would not have involved tearing down the parking garage and moving it 40 yards to the south and east.  

I think why you and others (myself included ) were so upset by the disappearing parking is it underscores our underclass-ness.  Bicycle parking is oftentimes seen as an afterthought.  It's not uncommonly miserably placed and inadequate to the task. Or not enough is provided to address the parking needs of the users.  El Con 6 is a great example of this.  Of course it's also not uncommon for there to be no bicycle parking whatsoever.  EXO Coffee Roasters had nothing for close to a year.  We had the temporary racking for the corral out front for a blip but now it's gone again.  (yes I know it's coming back as a parklet) So yeah we've got a chip on our collective shoulders but it's well earned.


Erik Ryberg
Erik Ryberg

@Orvis I did not know the racks were signed "for weeks" that they were going to be removed. Thanks for mentioning this detail -- it is an important piece of the story.  Although I am not sure it weighs in the library's favor -- if they knew about this for weeks, they could have spent some of that time working out and implementing a solution.

Orvis
Orvis

It is unfortunate that the original parking was removed before replacement parking was installed.  To be fair the racks were signed for weeks with warnings that they were going to be removed.  I certainly saw the signs on multiple occasions. If the racks had been replaced forthwith they would have ended up on the west side of the building out of sight of the front entrance.  I'm not sure this is a result that would have pleased folks.  I actually used these particular racks a lot.  I've spend some time circling the area looking for alternative.  Tip to Frank Telez, if you're going to a meeting downstairs just go in the side entrance and drag your bike down the stairs with you to the meeting.  Nobody says a word.  Reading the comments it doesn't sound as if many of the commenters used the facility on a regular basis.  The old racks were well used, there was a sizable homeless contingent and people did gather at the racks.  It never bothered me but I can see how others might have been intimidated.  I'm also not sure I would have been pleased with having to endure the level of enforcement it would have required to effect a change at the plaza and I'm pretty sure the minute the enforcement lessened the problems would have returned.  I think the solution is actually going to have to be broader based but in the meantime I'mm looking forward to some new parking at a plaza I'm at on a regular basis.  

MikeMcKisson
MikeMcKisson moderator

@pedalpics @MikeMcKisson Certainly seems plausible, if not likely. Whatever other solution they come up with may have the same issues. 

I suppose the library just didn't want it happening where the kids were seeing it. 

The real answer should be strict enforcement.