Friday, March 23, 2007

Where's the bike rack (retail)?

Image of bike rack at Best Buy in San FranciscoMany communities recognizing the benefits of increased bicycle use understand the importance of facilities (bike lanes, bike paths, etc.), intermodal access to transit, and encouragement (Bike to Work Day, Safe Routes to School, etc.)

However, many of these same communities overlook bike parking. Bike racks lack the visibility of other facilities, where politicians and bureaucrats can smile for ribbon-cutting photo ops. The news cameras turn out when the mayor dons a helmet and joins the annual Bike to Work Day. But the media pays no attention to the DPW employee installing a rack.

And then there are commercial enterprises who believe: Motorists equals trunk space equals major cash register action. Hence, they provide ample vehicle parking, and, if they bother to consider bicyclists at all, their parking is often poorly installed, ineffective, or hidden.

This is the surely the case with the bike rack pictured here, at the Best Buy store in San Francisco's Mission district. Best Buy provides about an acre of car parking--not in sprawling Houston, mind, but in densely populated and transit rich San Francisco!--and locates its bike rack on the remote side of the building near the dumpster. And this Best Buy outlet is very close to some of San Francisco's most notorious chop shops.

Any wonder this bike rack is unused?

Many recreational bicyclists might considering commuting and shopping by bike if they were assured of a secure parking space. They aren't going to leave their $2,000 titanium road bike locked to a pole in a dark alley. Secure bike parking is a critical factor in the attractiveness of bike commuting.

Image: Marianne Skoczek.
Visit: Changing Skyline: The city needs to get creative on bike parking, Philadelphia Enquirer
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

5 comments:

Matt Jenkins said...

Best Buy should be applauded for at least installing a bike rack. Yes, they could have done much better in terms of where they put it, but the fact that they installed a rack at all is better than most of the businesses I frequent. I typically end up locked up to a street light, or a shopping cart coral.

Fritz said...

I moved from Longmont, Colorado. City building code specifies number, location, and even the style of bike racks that are required for any new construction.

Planning and Zoning committee people aren't familiar with these sections of the code, though, so it's up to interested cyclists to pay attention to proposals and show up at the meetings to note these code violations at the planning stage.

Jamie said...

I agree and disagree with you on this Paul.

I disagree by agreeing with Matt Jenkins, above. He's right that some racks in bad places are better than no racks. In today's society of Cars = Good and Bikes = "no one rides bikes anyway", that's what we can expect.

But I agree in that bike racks deserve the prime real estate near the doors to buildings, etc., and not back near the dumpster. The attitude I just described above is awful, and I think we need to fight against the mere grudging acceptance of bicycles on the road and in parking lots and start pushing for more control over how the streets and parking lots are designed.

Example: I went shopping for some new shoes at a local department, and I rode my bike there over lunch. When I rode up, I couldn't find any bike racks, so I had to lock it to the picnic table in the break area at the side of the store (luckily, no one was trying to actually take a break at that time or they'd have been pissed off.

When I got to the front of the store, though, I saw that there actually was bike parking. But the racks weren't visible from the parking area - they were grooves in the sidewalk with loops to the side of each groove, to which I suppose you were supposed to loop a chain through to lock it. I didn't move my bike... and I think these racks are a joke. They're totally useless if you use a U-lock; they require that you have a kickstand, basically, they're that shallow; and like I said, no one's even going to know they're there because you can't see them till you're almost right on top of them.

Jett said...

I like everyone's comments here. This is a great subject to discuss.

I park my bike where it is most likely to be seen because a) it's safer for the bike, b) it points out where cyclists would like to park their bike if there isn't a rack, and c) while locking up, it's a better chance to strike up conversation (always with a smile) with either fellow cyclists or motorists.

Sarah said...

I think the location of these bike racks are safer for cyclists.