Tag Archives: bike rack

The Indignity of Bike Parking: Trader Joe’s

I was first introduced to the wonders of Trader Joe’s when I was bachelor living in Boston. And what could be better for the Bostonian bachelor? Cheap eats, ready to easily cook and with a patina of responsible consumerism. Or something, I’m not sure what the vibe in that place is supposed to be – “funky”? “quirky”? “beach-y”? Also, there’s cheap wine.

But I am no longer a bachelor, and I no longer enjoy Trader Joe’s version of a Meal Ready to Eat. But I do still like their trail mixes, which make for an essential work-time snack. Plus, the Rhode Island location is just off of one of our major bike paths – the Washington Secondary Bike Path (also known as the  Cranston Bike Bath, Warwick Bike Path, West Warwick Bike Path and finally, the Coventry Bike Path. [and another thing, where’s the Washington Primary Bike Path?])

Here you can see TJ’s and its proximity to the WSBP:

Washington Secondary Bike Path and Trader Joe's

Green curvy line = Washington Secondary Bike Path. A pinpoint = Trader Joe’s

You can see there’s even a little spur heading out to Bald Hill Road. Of course, Bald Hill Road is a bit of a nightmare as far as cycling is concerned.

The beauty that is Bald Hill Road in Warwick, RI

The beauty that is Bald Hill Road in Warwick, RI

Oh my gosh, I think there’s actually someone walking on the sidewalk on the left!

So it’s a big crappy road, whatever, it does have a very wide shoulder, and you’re not on it very long before you get to Trader Joe’s. And what do you find when you get there? Nothing in the way of bike parking. About a year ago, I asked the manager if they were ever going to install any bike parking. He said, “oh yeah, we have a rack on order, it should be here in a couple of months.” All right, that sounds like kind of a long time to wait, but I can understand if it takes a little while to source and install a bike rack, right? Well, I stopped at TJ’s today and I see that the months of waiting got us this:

Bike Rack at Trader Joe's Warwick RI

Bike Rack at Trader Joe’s Warwick RI

I moved the rack a few feet in order to get a better picture. It’s not secured to anything, and it weighs about 25-30 pounds (i.e., about as much as a bicycle). You can buy one of these online for a little over $100. There are very similar models made by a variety of companies, I didn’t look closely enough to see which company made this one, but it looks essentially identical to this one. From the product description:

Parks up to 6 bikes.
Perfect for home and small businesses. Set it up outside or in a garage or basement to park a family of bikes.
Assembles in minutes.
Lightweight yet surprisingly solid. Durable and weatherproof. Welded frame with one-peice and sections. [sic]
Can be anchored in lawns, concrete, or asphalt using Anchors #6257 and #6258 (Sold separately).

See that? “Parks up to 6 bikes.” It doesn’t say anything about locking the bikes to this thing (here’s a hint – you can’t properly lock a bike to it!) “Perfect for home and small business… set it up in a garage…” Yes, exactly. I have one of these in my garage. I use it to store three of my bikes. The anchors are sold separately, and they were evidently just a little too expensive for TJ’s budget.

What Trader Joe’s should have installed was something more like this.

A decent bike rack

A decent bike rack

You can pick these up for $430 (plus $19 for the mounting kit) right here.

Oh, what do you know? I found a few of these, right on the WSBP! Check it out:

WSBP bike rack

WSBP bike rack

First of all, this rack is installed RIGHT NEXT TO A FENCE which means you can’t fit your wheel through the loops. Secondly, it’s installed right next to a parking lot. There is nothing within walking distance. Why would anyone park lock a bike here? There’s nowhere to go once you get off the bike. There are several more of these “wave” bike racks along the WSBP, usually right next to a little park bench. I guess the idea is that you might want to take a rest from riding your bike, so you stop at one of these benches and use the bike rack to lock up your bike while you are 3 feet away from it. This seems to be a trend, in this state at least. A few years ago, I discovered the most useless bike rack in the state in Woonsocket. That one won’t even fit a 700c wheel!

I guess I could lead a cyclists’ boycott of Trader Joe’s, but what would that accomplish? This bike rack makes it pretty clear that cyclists are not wanted in their store. Until I organize a boycott of TJ’s, I’ll just boycott their bullshit bike rack:

I turn my red tire to TJ's bike rack like a baboon turns his red butt to his enemy

I turn my red tire to TJ’s bike rack like a baboon turns his red butt to his enemy

I almost went in to have a discussion with the manager about this so-called bike rack, but I was wearing my “sporty cycling attire” that is, really tight bike shorts and jersey, so I wasn’t feeling that dignified. Maybe next time. IF THERE IS A NEXT TIME! Hear that TJ’s? You can kiss my occasional trail mix money goodbye!


I ended my Bartolomé Day ride with a visit to Fertile Underground for lunch.

Fertile Underground Bicycle Rack

Now that’s a bike rack!

Back To The Hospital

I finally had my last appointment with the orthopedist this week. (For those coming to this blog more recently – I was seeing an orthopedist due to breaking my collarbone, which happened when I fell off of my bike.) It had been a long time since I visited the hospital. The last time I went, I took the bus because I was not yet cleared to ride. This time, I took my bike.

The bike parking at Rhode Island Hospital is… lacking. The bars on this railing are unusually deep so I couldn’t reach my lock through the bars and around my frame when the bike was resting on the ground. Instead, I had to lift my bike up a few inches and allow it to rest on the top bar of the railing. It rested on my left (front) shifter. Not ideal, but I’ve done it before.

With a good U-lock locked to a thick metal railing, I should feel pretty secure with how my bike is parked. There is quite a bit of foot traffic at the main entrance to the state’s largest hospital. It seems unlikely that a casual bike thief would be able to do anything to my bike, and it is not in a setting that a dedicated bike thief would touch. And yet, I still didn’t feel completely secure. In an overly security-conscious world, a hospital employee could see this bike as a threat and have it cut off. Seems unlikely, but it’s been known to happen. Perhaps I’m just paranoid. Comes from riding in traffic.

Here’s my latest X-ray:

And here’s what I looked like back in March right after the accident:

As you can see, the yellow pain lightning is gone, and that pesky red arrow finally went away. Along with that, my bones have knitted themselves back together, but now in a different and more exciting shape. How fun!

A special new feature for Car-Free in PVD

Wow, who knew that a post about sharrows would be so popular?

Although sharrows are great, if there’s one thing this blog is famous for, it’s pictures of bike parking. I know it’s why so many of you read this blog again and again. You just can’t seem to get enough tales of bad bike parking and pictures of same. Of course, sometimes, cyclists do it to themselves by making some bad parking choices. Example A:

This bike was parked like this for at least 24 hours which means that the owner was either lucky, or the bike thieves in Providence have very good taste, because I recently saw it parked not far from the previous spot, but this time, the owner locked to a post that actually had something at the top of it.

I’ve seen so many poorly locked bikes lately, I think these examples need a special recurring feature on my blog. And thus I present to you:

Barely Locked

Hopefully that will bring a few more hits via the search engines!

The white comfort-cruiser was spared from theft, but I wonder about this bike I documented a few months ago:

The bike was no longer there the next time I rode by, but I noticed that the knot had not been removed, so I can only assume that the bike is safe.

Before I spend too much time criticizing others, I should confess that I too, have fallen to the temptations of barely locking my bike – mostly by accident. There were several times when I lived in Alberta where I would come out of my office to find my bike with just the frame locked to the wheel, comfortably leaning against the bike rack. We call this a “threading” problem. That is, the lock was threaded through my bike, but not the bike rack. Now that I have Pinhead locking skewers, I haven’t made this mistake because I only need to thread the lock through my bike and the rack. However, after an injury-induced 10-week cycling hiatus, I’ve had more than a few suspicions that I failed to properly lock my bike. This usually happens at work, about an hour after I arrive, I start thinking that I may have inadvertently left my bike unlocked. I’ll casually make my way to the lobby and take a peek, pretending that I’m just checking on the weather. No mis-threading yet!

Some people don’t seem too concerned about mis-threading because they don’t even lock their bike to an object, they just lock the wheel to the frame and lean it against a wall. Presumably, they only do this “for just a sec.”

Sometimes they do this with rather expensive, custom-made cyclocross racing bikes. This is known as “free-locking” as in “there may be a lock attached to my bike, but it is free for the taking!” This seems to be popular amongst bike messengers (yes, there are a few in Providence), and since so many of them do it, people seem to respect the free-locked bikes around town.

Remember, when locking your bike to a post, be sure that there is something on the top of the post that will prevent thieves from simply lifting your bike off of the post. Nearby, I saw a bike locked to a post with a “Reserved Parking” sign. It was good that they were locked to a post with something on the top of it, but bad that the post was stuck in the dirt. Nearby, I saw a similar sign post laying on the ground. My guess is that someone pulled it out in order to take a bike locked to it (or to park in a reserved spot with impunity).

That’s all I have for BARELY LOCKED right now. But I’m sure that there will be many opportunities for this feature in the near future. Look for it in truck stop news stands everywhere.

I can’t close a post featuring so much bike parking without complaining about the lack of bike parking at major chain stores, right?

What kind of store sells this many bikes….

…. has this many handicap parking spaces….

…. and offers no bike parking for customers or employees?