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Technical FAQ: Montague’s Park & Pedal lots, folding bikes

Lennard Zinn profiles David Montague's two cycling properties: Park & Pedal lots and folding bikes.

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Park & Pedal lots

David Montague is best known for his eponymous folding bicycles and the CLIX front quick-release skewer that clears lawyer tabs without having to unscrew its end nut, but he is also the founder of Park & Pedal, a cycling twist on park and ride lots. The organization calls itself “a free network of parking lot hubs conveniently located cycling distance from your city’s employment centers, allowing you to park your car in a designated spot, and pedal your bike to work, avoiding “last-mile” congestion.”

Montague has been parking his car outside of Boston for 25 years and riding the last section of his commute along the Charles River on one of his Montague folding bikes. Recognizing that other people would like to do the same thing, he, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, launched the first official Park & Pedal program in the United States last year. He also managed to elicit participation from nearby suburbs, and now 20 parking lots around greater Boston have been designated for this purpose.

Park & Pedal is a solution to the “last mile” problem into a city, providing a safe, healthy, and quick trip along the final stretch of an urban worker’s commute that, if instead traversed by car, accounts for half of the commuting time while entailing less than 10 percent of the commuting distance. It also eliminates expensive parking fees and extended searches for parking spaces downtown.

A study by Google of why its employees were not commuting by bike identified three major hurdles for most employees: the distance is too far, the stress and fear of riding on busy roads is too great, and bike paths are not linked together sufficiently. Montague sought to eliminate these barriers to bike commuting by reducing the distance and by locating the Park & Pedal lots adjacent to well-established, interconnected bike routes. One way he accomplished this is by negotiating for the use of parking spaces at municipal parks that tend to be lightly used during weekday work hours. Many parks have bike paths running through them, often along rivers, creeks, and lakes. Some Park & Pedal lots are also close to mass transit stations, thus opening up additional commuting options as well.

Making parking free for bike commuters is key to the program’s success, as downtown parking in most cities can be very expensive. At the same time, riding the final mile(s) to work improves commuters’ health through exercise and stress reduction, while shrinking their carbon footprint. Montague estimates that usage of just three of the Park & Pedal lots eliminates 180,000 pounds of CO2 emissions per year.

Montague’s innovation has been so successful that he has received requests from the city of Las Vegas, a number of cities in California, and the country of Denmark to assist them in setting up their own Park & Pedal programs.

Montague folding bikes

Previously primarily known for their usage by paratroopers in the U.S. military, Montague’s folding bikes are perfect for using with the Park & Ride program. They fold up quickly (under 20 seconds for all models) and compactly without tools, so stashing them in an office or small apartment, taking them on a bus or a train, or tossing into a car trunk is a snap. They also have full-sized wheels, so they can be used on a much wider variety of terrain than most folding bikes.

In 2016, the company simplified its folding system with the introduction of its improved DirectConnect folding system. And in addition to the CLIX quick-release, which allows fast wheel removal despite the presence of wheel-retention tabs on the fork ends, the Montague Octagon quick-release stem/steering tube system allows riders to raise and lower their handlebars over a four-inch range in seconds without subsequent readjustment of the headset. Another Montague innovation is the RackStand rear rack with an integrated fender that releases from the seat tube with a lever and rotates around the rear hub to land flat under the rear wheel and serve as a work stand or kick stand.

For 2017, Montague’s new $1,295 FIT disc-brake, flat-bar, folding road bike is designed for extreme versatility. Featuring 700 X 28C tires and a carbon fork, it is equally at home on roads, bike paths, and gravel roads. Folding it requires only removing the front wheel (with the CLIX QR), flipping open the DirectConnect quick-release lever under the top tube, and rotating the short, seat tube-concentric tube welded to the twin top tubes about the seat tube it surrounds. The flat bar facilitates fast and compact folding.