In order to distract myself from being productive and writing posts for my blog, I spend far too much time reading other cycling blogs. One of the better ones is Let’s Go Ride A Bike, co-curated by Trisha in Nashville and Dottie in Chicago. They focus mostly on transportation cycling and um, for lack of a better phrase, the issues that lady cyclists face in particular. But mostly transportation cycling. It’s always an interesting read and there are often great pictures of Chicago, one of my favorite cities.
For the second year in a row, LGRAB is hosting a contest of sorts that they call: The LGRAB Summer Games:
Contestants are required to complete 4 of 10 of the following tasks and either document them in blog form, or email the documentation to the LGRAB ladies. Here are the tasks:
- 1. on vacation? rent a bike and go for a ride!
- 2. write a letter advocating for bicycling infrastructure (bike lanes, bike rack, etc) to your alderman/council representative, mayor, or a local business.
- 3. take a picture of something along your commute that says “summer” to you, and explain why
- 4. commute to work by bike or bike/transit if you don’t already
- 5. perform a maintenance task on your bike
- 6. explore a greenway or bike path in your city that you haven’t previously visited
- 7. test ride a different type of bike than you normally ride (road bike, mountain bike, etc.)
- 8. read a book about cycling
- 9. ride your bike somewhere new in your city
- 10. go on a group ride
I think I’ve done just about all of these things, and probably blogged about most of them, but the contest has a particular time frame, so I shall do them again. I’ll start off with the low hanging fruit – #2 “write a letter advocating for bicycling infrastructure (bike lanes, bike rack, etc) to your alderman/council representative, mayor, or a local business.” Write a letter? Hell yeah, I can do that. Seeing as how the last time I wrote a letter to a local business regarding bike parking, I was successful within days, I’m going to aim my sights a little higher this time.
I’m aiming for Wal-Mart. Specifically, the local Wal-Mart #3301 at 51 Spring Street in Providence, RI 02904. Here’s my letter:
Dear Store #3301 Manager,
I recently visited your store using my bicycle to get there. Fortunately, Providence, RI is a very compact city meaning that no matter where you are, you only have to go a few miles to get to any destination. The Wal-mart at 51 Spring Street is about 3 miles from my house, making it the perfect distance for a trip by bicycle. And while this Wal-Mart location has hundreds of parking places for cars, and several dedicated parking places for the disabled, it has zero places for parking a bike. On a recent trip, I circled the lot, looking for an appropriate place to lock up my bike. My choices seemed to be: a fence at one edge of the lot, the poles holding up a shelter over some picnic tables, or a bicycle display rack just outside of the entrance. I opted for the display rack. It certainly wasn’t intended as a place for a customer to park a bike, but it seemed appropriate. When I walked in, I noticed that other customers had locked their bikes to bench in the entrance area of the store. They were only able to lock their bikes by one wheel (not a very secure way to lock one’s bike), and they were keeping other customers from having access to the bench.
Inside the store, I noticed that this particular Wal-Mart has dozens of bicycles for sale. Along with the bicycles, the store sells helmets, tires, tubes, and locks. It’s particularly frustrating that a store would sell bikes and locks, and yet have no place for their customers to park & lock those bikes when they return to the store.
Compared to the cost of building and maintaining a parking space for a car, a bike rack for your customers would be incredibly cheap. There is ample space outside of the store to install one for your customers. I hope that you will consider installing a bike rack for your customers.
Okay, that’s entry #1. Let’s see where that gets us. Of course, as a true middle-class smugmonger, when would I ever shop there?