As I may have warned you, bike parking is going to be a recurring theme for this blog. It’s a never ending pet peeve of mine. It’s one of those things that you don’t realize you need it until you start biking everywhere and you start noticing the vast difference in the treatment of bike parking and car parking. Perhaps I was a little spoiled by Edmonton where there are several functional bike racks on each block in the shopping area I went to most often (Whyte Ave).
By the way, I’m swiping the name for this series from Bike Snob NYC, my new favorite bike blog. The anonymous blogger has just the right amount of snark on almost every bike topic. Despite owning 4 different types of bikes, he joyfully mocks every type of cyclist in the world. As an example, in writing about the copenhagen cycling infrastructure: “Copenhagen shines like the smugness of a thousand Portlands.” Or something like that. I read about 100 posts yesterday waiting for the snow and I’m not going to go back to look at all of them. The blog gets to be a bit self-referential, and I had to read a few dozen posts before I could keep up with some of his in-jokes and abbreviations. I think I saw it several times before I realized that ITTET stands for “In These Tough Economic Times.” The bike snob has an ongoing series called, “The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle” wherein he documents all of the garbage trucks, shoalers, salmon, and cabbies who almost kill him on his daily 20 mile roundtrip commute through the rough streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan. My commute is a measly 3 mile roundtrip, and I never encounter anything like this:
My commute is so short, that I rarely suffer much indignity at all. In fact, I find that the Providence drivers I share the 1.5 miles of road with give me plenty of room about 99.5% of the time. Spouse may argue that I bring indignity on myself with my choice of neon yellow rain jacket, but what can I say, I like to be seen.
Bike Parking, however, is a severe source of indginitiousness for me. Or whatever, it pisses me off in a major way. First, props to my local supermarket for having a decent bike rack:
Some people don’t like these racks because they aren’t the most efficient use of space. But really, you can only cram your bikes together so much. These racks actually give you plenty of room between bikes and you can use all of the space that’s available. It’s a very thick post, so no one is tempted to cut through the rack itself. This can make it a little challenging to lock both the wheel and the frame, but I have locking hubs, so I’m not so afraid of that. Althought, maybe I should worry about something like this. Oh god, just looking at this picture I can see all of the ways that Bike Snob NYC could make fun of my bike. Panniers, not locking the wheels, mis-matched tires, funny bike seat… I’m sure something is wrong with my crank or whatever. You know what I say to that? (I should probably get some haters first).
But this post isn’t about my bike, it’s about the indignity of bike parking! Case in point: Seven Stars Bakery!
Fresh Bread! Outdoor seating! Delicious coffee! Pastries and cookies that are making me drool just thinking about them right now! And of course, a parking lot that holds 4 volvos, 2 saabs, 1 bmw and 1 audi (or at least, that seems to be the usual configuration). Anyone who can’t fit in the lot can find free parking on the street. Meanwhile, I’m forced to park my bike like this:
That’s a no parking sign that’s been hit by a careless eastsider and now tilts at a stylish 80 degree angle. People, I implore you, something must be done. I asked one of the employees if they might ever get a bike rack. She said that the employees would sure like it, since they had to put a few chairs together behind the store to make their own make-shift rack. I mentioned that a friend of mine emailed the owners a few months ago about the problem, and she was assured that they would have a bike rack installed post-haste. The employee chuckled and said, “that sounds like something the owner would say and not do.” Oh well, at least they can make the bread on time. I think it’s time to start lobbying them to install a bike rack. After a little gentle prodding, I may resort to online shaming, we’ll see.
While Seven Stars has not bike rack, there are some bike hitching posts within a few blocks in the Hope & Rochambeau area. In fact, they are even the cool steel yard hitching posts. Atwells Avenue, the heart of Providence’s Italian American community (or at least, its identity) does not have a single bike rack or hitching post for its entire length. There are dozens of restaurants and shops in the area, free parking on the street and many parking valets waiting to park your car for you – but nothing for cyclists. Here’s my bike waiting for me to return from getting my hair cut:
I usually lock to a rickety no-parking sign, but I opted for the flimsy planter this time. I figured someone would have to cut down the tree or lift the planter fence over the tree in order to steal the bike. Or cut through the flimsy steel, but it didn’t look too flimsy. Also, you can see the sign indicating a parking area. Just outside of frame there were two guys in a little hut keeping watch over the parking lot. I’ve chatted with them before (about my weird seat), so I trust they won’t let anyone with a hacksaw go after my bike. Perhaps parking in front of a monitored parking lot keeps my bike safe, because we all know who controls the parking lots in Providence *touches finger to side of nose*.
I’m sending the picture of my bike outside 7 stars to the owners, but I don’t know who I can lobby to get some racks on Atwells Avenue. Maybe I’ll leave a note on the mayor’s Hybrid Tahoe or something.