A puzzled Patch reader recently asked us about the "green metal structure" that had just appeared on the sidewalk in front of a gas station across the street from Peet's on upper Solano Avenue in Berkeley.
The reader asked if we knew what it was. We didn't then, but we do now.
It's a bike rack with a roof – the first in Berkeley.
The green structure on the southeast corner of Solano and Colusa avenues (in front of a gas station next to Andronico's, and across the street from Peet's) did indeed look odd on Jan. 24 when the reader emailed us.
At that point, it was just the frame for the shelter – installed the previous day and vaguely resembling two large green metal pretzels reaching up from the sidewalk. On Jan. 29, the bike racks and roof were added, according to Pamela Embry, spokeswoman for the city.
"The shelter is designed to protect the bikes from rain and sun, both of which will damage bicycle components if a bike is left out for an extended period of time (more than 2+ hours on a regular basis)," Embry told Patch via email."
Patch observed that the roof seemed relatively high and somewhat narrow to afford much protection from rain, especially when it's falling from an angle, as it often does.
"The shelter will not prevent blowing rain from getting on some parts of the bike," Embry acknowledged, "but at a minimum it is intended to keep the handlebars and seat dry and protected from the sun."
She added: "This is the City’s first sheltered bike rack location, but we are planning to install a second one on the northeast corner of Shattuck and Vine in the near future. Both locations are funded by Safe Routes to Transit grant funding, because of the immediate proximity of Transbay AC Transit bus stops. Berkeley is the latest of dozens of cities nationwide (and dozens more internationally) which have installed such sheltered public bike racks."
We'd like to know what you think of the new covered bike rack on Solano. You can tell us in the comments.