The Indignity of Bicycle Parking: Sometimes We Do It To Ourselves

Before I get to some Grade-A bike parking indignity, I’d like to start with a little bike parking dignity. Terry, a friend of mine from my time in Edmonton now lives in Lac La Biche, Alberta. Not sure where that is? Well, it’s northeast of Edmonton. I’ve conveniently marked it with an “A” on this here map:

What’s that you say, you ignorant USA-type person? Not sure where Edmonton is in the grand scheme of North America? Well let me de-enhance this map a little bit so you can also see Portland, Oregon (the center of the North American cycling world, at least to Portlanders).

I'll admit that until shortly before I moved there, I wasn't exactly clear on Edmonton's location myself.

That’s pretty far north. Over 400 miles north of the US-Canada border.

Terry looks a bit like famous rock musician and bicycle diarist David Byrne. And, just like the great non-car-owner Byrne, Terry also likes to use his bike as a means of transportation. However, he is much less smug than David Byrne. Terry has been kind enough to send me pictures of bike racks in Alberta. First there was an artsy rack on fashionable Whyte Ave in Edmonton:

And here’s his bike at what he describes as “the first public bike rack in Lac La Biche:”

Of course, it's a horribly designed bike rack where the only useful parking spots are at the end. However, it doesn't sound like Terry has much competition for parking spots.

In addition to riding his bike to the “Everything’s $6.69 Store” (that’s $6.59 in American), Terry also rides his bike to the local college. Evidently, he must be one of the few who do so because he recently told me, “a friend who works in facilities at the college said his supervisor asked when he was going to put the bike rack away for the season and his answer was ‘when Terry stops riding his bike.'”

Ride on, Terry! The Alberta cyclists make the American cyclists complaining about the winter look like total “woosies.” As I write this post on an early December evening, it is currently 15 degrees Fahrenheit in Lac La Biche. That’s -9 Celsius, or as the Albertans might say, “balmy.”

Speaking of removing a bike rack for the winter, the owner of a bike shop in Lafayette, Indiana recently woke up to this peculiar brand of bike parking indignity:

The owner of a downtown bicycle shop happened upon a surprise Wednesday morning. That’s when Zoe Neal, owner of Virtuous Cycles, said he noticed part of Lafayette’s first on-street bicycle parking rack was missing. “I really didn’t know what was going on,” said Neal, who was involved in petitioning the city for its installation…. It turns out, city officials said, that half the rack was removed for the winter due to concerns about the structure impeding snow removal efforts.

First of all, the name of the shop is Virtuous Cycles? And you thought I was smug! Cringe-inducing name aside, it seems like a bum deal to have your city-approved bike rack removed from in front of your bike shop! I would write and demand justice, but I’ve got bike parking problems in my own town.

At least there was a bike rack there to begin with. There are still major sections of Providence with ample automobile parking, but no bike parking. However, even if there is no bike rack in sight, there’s still no excuse for doing this:

I was on foot when I came across this poorly-locked bike. I was tempted to take the bike into protective custody and leave a note for the owner – just to prevent it from being stolen. I ride by this spot twice a day usually, and I haven’t seen it there since. I won’t say that the owner “deserves” to have the bike stolen. I’ve made my share of locking errors, usually locking the bike to itself and failing to thread the lock through the rack. But I did that in Canada, a cycling utopia where no one ever steals anything. It can be an easy error to make when one is tired after climbing a hill on a bike weighed down by a superfluous suspension fork. Still… that’s just dumb.


4 responses to “The Indignity of Bicycle Parking: Sometimes We Do It To Ourselves

  1. Wow, I’m honoured. [That’s coming up in spell-check for some reason.]
    First of all, I’m amazed that I managed to get a shot of Whyte Av without a dozen people in the frame. I can barely see a few over by the Second Cup, and maybe one sitting in front of Starbuck’s.
    And secondly, I didn’t notice how generic the $6.69 sign was. $6.69 for what? Something that’s more than $6.69? I chose that shot over another that had a view of the swamp next door. I thought this looked more industrial and quite typical of the local architecture.
    “Canada, a cycling utopia where no one ever steals anything…” Oh puleeeze! I had an (unlocked) bike stolen at a EI office in Vancouver Yeah, well, hungry neighbourhood, but V. seemed so nice otherwise. Once I borrowed a friend’s bike, rode down the hill to the Kinsmen Sports Centre, locked the bike to itself, and when I came out bike and lock were gone. Hey, we’re nice, but some of are not so nice all the time.
    -9. Yeah, that’s balmy. I was thinking it was quite mild tonight; about -14C, but even I have stopped riding for the season. We have snow now and there is no, what we would say in an urban area “snow removal” (except at the college, where the bike rack has been removed to make snow removal easier) so I’ve parked for the winter. Besides, I live on the fourth floor, have to lock to a guy wire outside where I have had the tires popped, so I’ve given up for now. It would be great exercise, though, carrying the bike up and down every time I went out.
    Now what did I do with those skis?

  2. What’s the population of Lac La Biche? I’m a not-that-ignorant American, but, jeez, that’s a lot more urban than I expected based on the location. What’s the main economy? Agriculture, minerals, some of both?

    • First, I should reply (belatedly) to Terry: Honored came up in the spell check because you misspelled it! Just kidding, we like to joke with our Canadian friends aboat our shared language. And it’s nice to know that Canadians steal bikes too.

      Frymaster: Lac La Biche is pretty tiny: 2,500 people or so. Relatively speaking, it’s not too far from the Alberta Tar Sands, the second largest source of petroleum products to the US (requiring an environmentally destructive method of extraction). Historically, there was some logging going on there as well.

  3. Pingback: The Indignity of Bike Parking: A gordian knot | Car-Free in PVD

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