Just Give Us a Place to Park Our Bikes

Anyone who regularly uses a bicycle for transportation in the United States knows the feeling — the nagging anxiety about what will happen when you arrive at your destination, especially if it’s a place you’ve never been on your bike before. Will there be a place to lock up? Will security guards be helpful or will they hassle you? Will your bike be there when you get back? Or will it be gone — not stolen by a common thief, but clipped by the building management or by the police?

It can be kind of humiliating, frankly, to be treated as if your mode of transportation is something so dirty and dangerous and unsightly that there’s no decent place to put it. Not to mention infuriating.

New York City’s pending Bicycle Access Law is a big step in the right direction. But this country has a long way to go before it begins to be the kind of placing where rolling up on a bike, locking it and heading about one’s business is considered normal — or even acceptable.

To wit, this post from Streetsblog Network member Soapbox LA:

301279557_63c63fa482.jpgBicycle-unfriendly in Denver. Photo by Jeffrey Beall via Flickr.

On Tuesday night, flush with victory after sitting through hours of LA
Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting, several cyclists rode from the
LAPD’s Parker Center (a facility that has a new "wave" bike rack which
fails the city’s bike plan specifications for adequate bike parking) in
search of sustenance and nutrition. The cyclists rode the deserted
streets of downtown LA and found themselves at 5th and Flower, which
features Weiland Brewery Underground, a wonderful restaurant and pub
that serves great food long after the rest of the downtown dining
opportunities have closed shop. The Weiland website also features
abundant driving instructions and directions to the automobile parking. As for bikes, not a mention.

Arriving
at 5th and Flower, the cyclists crossed a fairly deserted and typical
downtown business district courtyard…. With no bike racks near the
entrance, they locked their bike to a rail that surrounded the
courtyard and that already hosted a couple of bikes. They chatted with
a security guard who wore a blazer and carried a clipboard and grew
confident that this was a safe place to lock their bikes.

Then

"Gilbert" appeared. With a smile on his face he informed the cyclists,
"If you leave your bikes here, they will be gone when you return."

Thinking he was referring to the safety of this area, the cyclists
looked around but it was well lit, it was close to the entrance, it was
in the most traveled area of the entire complex and there were already
bikes there indicating that others also considered it to be a safe
place. Gilbert clarified "If you leave your bike there, we will cut the
locks and take them."

Under what authority does a security guard
threaten to impound personal property? …Why
can’t they treat those who walk, ride or take mass transit with the
same respect as those who arrive with thousands of pounds of personal
property? If a motorist parked his car illegally would "Gilbert"
and the clipboard team break in and roll the car off into City National
Plaza McGuire impound? I think not!

More from the network: Bike Portland reports record participation in the city’s Bike Commute Challenge. Transit Miami has the news on a master plan for bikes there. And M-Bike.org talks about how Michigan stands to lose millions in funding for bike trails.

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