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 talks about how Michigan stands to lose millions in funding for bike trails.