The Indignity of Bicycle Parking: Big Box Style

While I may have taken a brief hiatus from blog writing for most of January, I never stopped blog thinking. That is, I continued the meticulous over-documentation of the mundane tasks in my life in order to share this documentation with you. That is to say, I took pictures when I went shopping.

It was January 2nd, a kind of warm, but still mostly miserable day. There were a few remnants of a recent snowstorm here and there, but the streets were clean if a little wet and the CarFreePVD household needed some caulk to seal up some drafts from our windows. There’s a big box home improvement store that is right at the northern end of the Washington Secondary Bike Path. And if I set wheel on the WSBP, I might as well go all the way to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few necessaries.

I’ve whined about the lack of bike parking at this big-box store before. But this time, I have documentation! First, an obligatory shot of the parking lot with a few hundred spaces:

It doesn’t look that impressive here, but what does it look like from space???

Pretty dang big. Now, where can I park my bike? This store is right next to a bike trail, yet there is no bike parking. Last time, I asked an employee and they suggested I leave it near the return desk (where there is no place to lock it). I ended up locking it to the shopping cart carrel inside the store, so I just went straight to it this time.

It’s not a bad place to park a bike – it’s even a little bit stealthy.

I quickly grabbed some caulk [ahem], and I was out the door.

However, although the streets were free of snow & ice, the bike path had not fared so well. This seems to be a common problem as Noah from KC Bike Commuting recently pointed out a protected bike path in the KC area that is plowed over with snow from the adjacent road. Here’s the entrance to the WSBP off of Carolina St.:

I love how the snow has melted away from everywhere except for the curb cut that allows bikes to safely roll from street to path. Let’s ENHANCE!

I like to take pictures of things that make me sigh and feel smug

Moving on….

The path started out mostly clear, but once I entered the “tree tunnel” section, I could tell that very little sunlight had reached the surface of the path to melt the snow. At some point, someone had driven a 4-wheeled vehicle on the path, which was a blessing, because it created two ruts in which to ride.

It was slow going on the path. If there’s not much traffic, I’m usually trucking along at 15-18 MPH, but the ice forced me to keep my speed down to more like 10 MPH. It was a long slog to TJ’s and back. By the time I was heading home, it was getting dark and there was a layer of snow fog just above the path. My camera fails to capture the creepiness.

One bright spot from earlier in the ride. I’d never noticed this street sign before:

That’s a street sign that was installed just for the benefit of people on the bike path. Pretty amazing when you consider all of the intersections in New England that lack any sort of sign.

One week later, the roads were in even better condition, so I decided to head out on the Jamis while I still had the chance. First, I stopped at another big box store to pick up some shower curtains. Here’s the obligatory photo of a parking lot with hundreds of spaces:

I rode around back to see if there was an employee bike rack or something like that. All I found was a classic dual-suspension Big Box BSO free-locked. I was about to take a picture of it for you to enjoy when the security guard (in a car) came around the corner. I asked him if there was a place to park, he suggested the lobby. There was nothing to lock it to there, so I went with this instead:

Maybe it’s time for my favorite activity – “Write an indignant letter to a big company about the lack of bike parking at their store.” On second thought, I think I’ll save my indignant letters for companies that might actually respond.


5 responses to “The Indignity of Bicycle Parking: Big Box Style

  1. Hey, I know that Wally World, I work just down the street from there on Royal Little Dr.

    But you’re absolutely correct, not only are these big boxes not bike friendly, they’re not even pedestrian friendly.

    • Considering how many of their customers arrive by bus or by foot, you’d think they’d do a better job. Their just locked in that car-centric mentality.

  2. I usually bring my bike in with me. That keeps me from buying more than what I can carry, since I have to wheel the bike with me as I shop. I’ve never been stopped, but keep this phrase at the ready: “How do you treat people with wheel chairs? Baby Strollers? Aren’t your shopping carts simply storage on wheels? Well, so is my bike”

    • That’s tempting to try, but I think I’ll stick to kvetching about the lack of parking. For one thing, only one of my bikes has a kickstand, and I’d imagine that even that one would be cumbersome to maneuver through the aisles of a big box store. Have you tried that technique at a Wal-Mart? They seem to be the most adamant about clamping down on anyone doing anything suspicious in their stores. Just try taking a picture inside a Wal-Mart and a manager will come out on the floor almost instantly.

  3. Pingback: Spring is Here! | Car-Free in PVD

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