Eastside Marketplace and Bottles

My neighborhood boasts something you don’t see too often, an honest-to-goodness independent grocery store, the Eastside Marketplace. Right next door is a very good liquor store, Bottles. Between them is an abomination of a bike rack.

Earlier this week, I visited Bottles to buy a case of wine. That’s right, I can buy a case of wine and transport it by bike. That earns me both smug points and Bourgeois points (and a 10% discount). This time, however, Spouse came along and transported half of the case by backpack. NO MATTER! I have the potential to transport it all and that makes me feel smug and that is all that is important.

When I got to the liquor store, I found a scene similar to this:

This particular bike rack has been deteriorating over the last few years. It’s a crappy design to begin with. The cyclist has the option of hoisting the bike over the rack as most have done (this can scratch the frame and possibly damage the headset), or lock only the wheel (as I did when I took this picture).

I’m okay with doing this for short periods of time because I have locking skewers. I would not recommend this for cyclists with quick-release or bolt-on wheels. You can find this type of rack many places. It’s kind of an old-fashioned idea of what a bike rack should be, and amazingly enough, they are still being built. This one has deteriorated to the point where many of the bars have either fallen off or were removed to facilitate bike theft:

The rack was pretty full when I showed up and I had had enough of this crappy rack! So, I brought my bike into Bottles. The young woman at the front said, “there’s a bike rack right outside there.”

“I’m sorry, but that’s not a real bike rack, I can’t use it – would you mind if I leave my bike up here while I shop?” I replied.

Another clerk chimed in, “Well, I wouldn’t say it’s not a real bike rack, but it does suck. You can leave your bike here if you like.”

Spouse and I picked out our wines (that is to say, Spouse picked 11 bottles and I picked 1 – I’ve never quite developed a wine palate). When I got home, I started drafting an angry email to the manager of Eastside Marketplace. After writing the draft, I decided to sit on it for a day, which is always a good idea when one writes an angry email.

The next day, I received an e-newsletter from Bottles. I’m on their email list, so I’m used to seeing their e-newsletters. Shortly after that, I got a second email from the manager informing me about some sort of special bourbon. I seized on this opportunity, and replied to the manager’s email thusly:

I’m happy to receive your emails and I enjoy shopping at Bottles. I
was very glad when you guys moved into the old Blockbuster space. I
have one small complaint that you may or may not be able to address.
The bike rack outside your store is in horrible disrepair. I couldn’t
properly lock my bike to it last night, so I brought my bike into the
store. Your excellent staff was kind enough to watch it for me while I
shopped. Does Eastside Marketplace own the bike rack, or is there a
landlord for the entire strip who is responsible for it? I would
greatly appreciate it if you could talk to whoever is responsible for
the rack and ask them to replace it. It’s a poorly designed rack, and
now it’s falling apart. Even on a relatively cold night like last
night, there were at least 8 bikes parked there, many parked in a way
that could damage the bike. More and more people are riding bikes for
transportation these days, and businesses that make the investment in
quality bike parking can expect to be well-patronized.

[I went on to request that they carry Southern Tier 422 Pale Wheat Ale, because while I may not have a refined palate for wine, I do know my beers and that shit is awesome.]

A few hours later, I received this response:

The “bike rack” outside is a joke — I completely agree with your comments.  We are partnering with the Steel Yard to have a new bike rack custom made for us this spring.  Stay tuned!


General Manager

I’ll gladly suffer through the winter if they’re going to end up with a Steel Yard rack. [for those unfamiliar with the Steel Yard, you can check out their work here.] But now what can I do with that angry email to Eastside Marketplace? Post it here, of course. Now that I know they are planning to replace that horrible rack, my rage is no longer justified. Instead, I’ll hold onto this until the next time I come upon dilapidated bike rack.

Imagine a customer drove his car to your store to find that he was unable to safely park his car in the parking lot. There weren’t any lines separating the spaces, so cars were parked in an un-orderly fashion, some pressed right against each other, causing them to scrape against each other. The lot was full of potholes that could damage his wheels. There were shopping carts left all over the place that could scratch his car. There were strips of metal in most of the parking spaces that could damage his car when he pulled in, and somehow, these same metal strips made it difficult to properly lock his car. This made the customer worry about his car while he was shopping. He hurried through the store as quickly as possible. The next time he needed groceries, he went somewhere else.

I’m sure that sounds like a parking nightmare. You wouldn’t put up with a parking lot like that, right? You’d have the lot repaved to get rid of the potholes. You’d paint appropriate lines separating the parking spaces. You would remove those metal strips so your customers’ cars don’t get scratched and they can lock their cars properly. In short, you would make sure that your customers don’t even have to think about the condition of your parking lot. They would drive in, park their cars, do their shopping, load up and go home. And your customers don’t have to think about your parking because you have a perfectly acceptable parking lot. There are plenty of well-marked, properly spaced parking spaces. I’ve driven a car to your store many times, and I’ve always found your parking lot to be perfectly maintained. Your staff does an excellent job of keeping the shopping carts under control. You also accommodate those who take the bus to your store by providing seating for those who wait for the bus.

Although I’ve driven to your store many times, I live less than 2 miles away and I prefer to ride my bike for short trips. The bike parking at Eastside Marketplace is equivalent to the nightmare parking lot I described above. The bike rack in front of your store is poorly designed and in a horrible state of disrepair. Although you may see this type of bike rack installed many places, it does not allow cyclists to properly secure a bicycle. This rack is designed to only secure the bike’s wheel to the rack. If a cyclists only locks the wheel to a rack, a thief can easily release the bolts holding the wheel to the frame and take the frame and rear wheel, leaving only the front wheel. Instead, many cyclists put their front wheel over the rack in order to secure both the frame and front wheel. This can scratch the frame and cause damage to some of the bicycle’s components. The best option is to lock a bike to one of the ends of the rack, but those two spots are usually taken. In addition to it’s poor design, the rack is falling apart. Many of the vertical bars have been removed, I assume by someone trying to steal a bike, or perhaps they just fell off.

I don’t know if Eastside Marketplace owns the property, or rents it from another company. However, I am certain that you would never allow your parking lot to deteriorate to a similar condition. I hope that you will consider installing a new bike rack that will allow your customers to properly park their bikes. Please take the time to consult with someone who rides a bike before choosing a new bike rack.

Ah, that’s a thing of beauty, isn’t it? Probably one of the best screeds I’ve ever written, and now I don’t even get to send it. Did you see how I casually mentioned that I’ve driven a car there? That’s to show that I’m not some lunatic who only rides his bike everywhere. Of course, I fail to mention that I drive a car there maybe twice a year nowSpeaking of lunatics, I saw these two parked at the farmers’ market the other day.

That’s the rare, elusive “shopper” version of the Elliptigo. Here’s the sporty version, captured on Blackstone Blvd.

Think I could mount my panniers on that?


13 responses to “Eastside Marketplace and Bottles

  1. unsmug texas driver

    Is that what this thingy is? http://images.gizmag.com/gallery_lrg/strida-50-sx-bike.jpg I totally saw this thing (or something that looked sort of liked it… to be honest I got this one by googling “tiny triangular bike” which is what it looked like to me) the other day on campus and wished I had a spacephone to document it for you.

    • No, that’s a Strida folding bike, I’ve seen one of those around here occasionally as well. My picture didn’t turn out too good, I was trying to take it on the sly. What I saw was an Elliptigo which is a like a non-stationary elliptical machine. It’s slightly less ridiculous than the non-stationary treadmill, which is a real thing that actually exists and can be observed here although I can’t quite tell if it’s serious or a joke.

  2. Are there examples of Steel Yard bike racks elsewhere? I would assume (based on their garbage cans) the racks would look nice but lack in some essential function…am I wrong?

  3. Steelyard racks are all over the City: Dash Bicycle, Several different hitches along Hope Street such as at Seven Stars, Frog and Toad and Createlier/Swan Liquors. They’re essentially 2 bike hitches. I haven’t seen them design anything bigger yet. The only ding I can give is that they’re usually of the “bolt down” variety, instead of cemented into the ground.

    Given that Steel Yard has been doing 2-bike hitches tracitionally, I wonder how much parking for bikes they can squeeze into that 6 foot space where the old rack is located.

    Why not also contact ESM still, just with a different tone? Bottles may be getting new hitches, but it may not be enough for demand and independent of ESM.

    • Different tone? What’s wrong with my general tone of smug righteous indignation? It’s basically all I know. That and snark.

      For reals though, I will send ESM a quick note. From Bottles’ response, I inferred that this would replace the current crappy rack. I’ll contact and see if I can find out what there plans are. It would be horrible to have the rack replaced with something even worse.

      I know that the Steelyard has done a few large custom racks, but not many. There’s one on the EBBP that’s next to a Del’s stand. It has a nautical look to it. For the outta-staytas (and those who have not noticed them around town), I’ll try to take a few pictures this week. You can see some pics of their work on their projects page here.

  4. Let me help you explore your wine palate! Come to our wine tasting event tomorrow night at the Community Boating Center! We have bike racks (and I’ve been working on coming up with some bike/boat event for next season)!


    @MattM, seems all the bike racks in the downcity area are bolt-down, too. What’s up with that?

  5. Snark is underrated!

  6. Those Steel Yard bike racks look slick.

  7. Oh, how about sending the full snark version to both of the Whole Foods markets? Their racks are pretty attrocious, and at N. Main, inadequate to demand, given that the wave racks only hold half the bikes claimed, and they have one of the same radiator grill ones you vilify about ESM. Waterman store has the same, and its tucked in some remote corner of the lot.

    @Matthew: It probably comes down to installation cost as it is likely cheaper to install in existing sidewalk by drilling four holes than coring a large hole and repouring the cement. I think the racks themselves are the same price. Providence Foundation and the DID were the leaders on that project as I recall and probably ordered whatever was spec’d by the whoever was supplying the work crews.

  8. Also, could you request that the rack be equipped with a rocket launcher for destroying the luxury vehicles (always) of those who park in the fire lane with their engines running to pick up and drop off their dry cleaning. Thank you.

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