Editor’s note: This post was written by Colby Henley one of Tucson Velo’s newest contributors. Henley is a daily bicycle commuter and advocate.

Dear Jimmy John’s,

In early April of this year, I wrote to Zachary, the manager of the store at Campbell and Copper Street, pointing out the lack of bicycle parking. In the email, I mentioned the prime location of this store next to the future Bike Boulevard along Copper  Street and how bicycle customers are great for local businesses, and then offered the contact information for the City’s bicycle & pedestrian coordinator. Zachary replied to my email promptly and agreed that adding bicycle parking would be a good thing. I also wrote a post for the local Tucson Velo blog.

I followed up with another email to Zachary in May to see if there was any progress in installing bike racks. At the time, some of the final touches (such as landscaping) were still being done around the new store and I acknowledged that Zachary was probably pretty busy just managing the store. So, I offered help in selecting a good location for the racks and help in finding a supplier. I did not get a reply to that email.

During my latest visit, I again noticed that one of your employees has to lock his bike to the pipe next to the utility pole.

Employee bike parking


I also see plenty of room for few “staple” bike racks in front of the parking or on the blank concrete pad or gravel area near the drive-thru.


Space for bike racks
Space for bike racks


Space for racks near Drive-thru
Space for racks near Drive-thru

So today, over three months after my initial contact, I’m writing again to make a request for bike racks and to offer help. I hope you value my business enough to accommodate my preferred mode of travel.

Colby Henley

By Colby Henley

Colby is a bike commuter, a volunteer with the Bicycle Advisory Committee Downtown/UA subcommittee, and member of Living Streets Alliance. He can't wait to take his new granddaughter on her first bike ride.

44 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Jimmy John’s”
  1. I would love to send them a polite nicely worded letter. I pass by there all the time and I have been thinking about eating there. But if bike parking is a hassle, then I will go down the street. There are lots of options in that neighborhood for eating (Beyond Bread has bike rakes).

  2. ALL of … “YOU BIKE PEOPLE”… are a nusance. Your in the way of every sane and busy person in Tucson.  Get a life and get out of way of the majority of Tucsons busy and productive people.

  3. First of all, it is far more likely that “you motorists” are more likely to be in the way of every sane & busy person.
    Also, your point would be taken more seriously if you learned how to use the English language correctly.

  4. Hahaha… Porterl for the win!  Based on that eloquent and stirring text, I’m giving up my bikes and will soon begin to live a real life.

  5. So, is Porterl the regional manager?

    Great pic, Colby, of the employee bike parking.

    Pictures are the best way to brow-beat the laggards and acknowledge the
    progressive business folks, also providing examples to the first group.
    How to get them out there……. 

  6. Unfortunately there are too many nitwits like Porterl who didn’t acquire basic grammar and some common sense along the way.  When I’m out on a fitness ride, I bring along a small backpack and do errands too, so I don’t have to drive back to the library, pet and grocery stores, etc.  One day I waited for a Petco location to open at 9am, in a shopping center anchored with big box stores.  No bike racks at all.  I watched as overweight store employees, probably making minimum wage, got out of their cars and headed in to work.  I felt out of place on a bike, but so be it. 

  7. Hey Martha, where did you get that rainwater gauge? I want one! 🙂
    Subway also needs bike racks, and surprisingly, I also know of some bike shops that need bike racks. 

  8. Please, folks; most irate people are just frustrated that we have the means, time and health to live a healthy active lifestyle. The majority of us are in a terrible state of health with unhealthy outlook on life. You of all people should understand the mental strife that comes from seeing an active sustainable activity as opposed to being locked into a indoor, chain smoking, living off a corn based fueled life. 

  9. The city has a requirement for businesses to provide a specified number of car parking spaces, handicap car spaces, and bicycle parking spaces w/ associated rack(s).  The requirements vary according to the type of business and the size of the building, but in all cases, there is a bicycle parking requirement.  I don’t know how they got their certificate of occupancy to legaly inhabit the building w/out a bike rack.

  10.  3wheeler, can you provide a link or a quote of code/ordnance to support your claim? Perhaps BAC’s Ian Johnson, the myopic legal researcher, can help you…

  11. “I watched as overweight store employees, probably making minimum wage, got out of their cars and headed in to work. I felt out of place on a bike, but so be it. ”
     Gosh, I wonder why bike enthusiasts come across as narrow minded elitest snobs…

  12. I signed up to be a rainfall watcher for the county. You can also get one if you sign up on Rainlog.org.

    Rainfall geeks unite! We have nothing to lose but our drought!

  13.  Why not write an open letter to Tucson City Council urging them to modify the ordinance to account for situations such as Jimmy John’s? And enforcement thereof throughout the city, including the really, really poor areas rather than some micro-local, pet irritant? Why think small?

  14. “most irate people are just frustrated that we have the means, time and health to live a healthy active lifestyle.”
     Or, maybe, us lower class folks struggling to take care of oursdelves and our loved ones simply resent having upper class wannabees shoving your attitudes in our faces.You expect everyone to change everything, including laws, to accomodate your prefererred form of exercise, which is certainly healthy but is basically just a discretionary activity.

  15. Hey, there. A lot of us on this board — and quite a few people reading it — aren’t exactly what one would call upscale. There are many people here who are struggling to take care of themselves, just as you may be.

    As for a preferred form of exercise, there are plenty of local people who use bicycles to get around. They’re not exercising. They’re going to work. To school. To shop at stores. Or, as was discussed up above in today’s post, to patronize restaurants.

  16. That’s a cool site. Got a gauge through them too. Another good one is weatherundergound. They have spotters all over, who keep complete and real time data. Just search for a location near where you live, and you will always have live time weather conditions at your fingertips.

  17. You are certainly right but reread the sentenced I quoted from the writer in my post. I think most people would agree that he is putting people down based on class. Bragging that you have  “means,time, and health” is really just wordspeak for” upper class” or “wealthy.”
     I’m really just saying that people like him present a very bad image for all the good ones. Most avid bikers I’ve known are nothing like that.

  18. In the parking code rather recently developed, exemptions are the rule, enforcement nonexistent and the cost (like buying carbon offsets) to NOT provide bike parking is not prohibitive. I don’t think the folks who had a hand in that want to start that ugly process over.
    There are so rarely enough bikes in the sea of cars at most parking lots to make an impression on business people.
    Get 100-200 riders to show up at Jimmy Johns and, well, since there’s no place to put our bikes, all order from the drive through blocking out cars for a while, that will get noticed. Too negative? I think not if everyone’s willing to buy a sandwich. Anyone go to Chik-fil-a yesterday?  Old what’s-his-name heard every one of them. 

  19. Perfectly reasonable option….but ya missed the point.
    One can repeatedly ‘tug on someone’s sleeve’ to affect a change and it can work – like at Trader Joe’s. Or you can make your  needs known beyond the scope of a specific action. Do the above once or twice and many more than just Jimmy John will know about it.

  20. Colby is correct.  The previous business in the building was a restaurant so there was no change of use, I didn’t pay close enough attention.  Red Star, you can just go the city’s website and hunt down the ordinance.  I don’t have it bookmarked, I don’t do commercial work enough to need to refer to it that often.

  21.  Exactly, 3wheeler. You don’t back up your assertion (way up above) because it cannot be backed up. Red Star’s (subtle) point, hoped to be understood at last.

    The task of urging city council to amend the ordinance to be more in touch and to be so city-wide rather than picking and choosing businesses on the basis of one individual’s whim and preference or those of a select group or “mob” remains on the table…

  22. What assertion?  That they should not have been given a C. of O. w/out having a bike rack?  Or that city ordinance requires bike racks?  The city has the ordinance in place, but in this instance it wasn’t enforced because the permit didn’t require a change of use.  I’m not following your point here. 

  23. I think most of us and the loved ones we take care of expect us to not be run down and killed by someone in an automobile because of unsafe conditions.

    I commute to work by bike because it makes the most sense for my home life. Any health benefit is a bonus and what money is saved my family sorely needs. Not every family can afford multiple or even one car and all they entail. Some of us work for a living. So you can stuff your haughty attitude, bub.

    And if you don’t like bikes on the road demand more, better bike infrastructure. Remember that every bike is one less car you can’t get around in rush hour.

  24. It’s in the Land Use Code in the section on minimum parking requirements.  My apologies for the formatting, it’s only available as a pdf.  The direct link to the document is http://cms3.tucsonaz.gov/sites/default/files/planning/Complete%20LUC.pdf

    What you’ll want to look at is section 3.3.1 page 216  Big pdf  The LUC is morphing into the UDC or Uniform Development Code.  I haven’t seen the bike parking requirements for the new document but so far most of the use codes and minimum requirements have stayed the same as they were in the LUCLAND USE GROUP/CLASS SHORT-TERM BICYCLE PARKING REQUIRED LONG-TERM BICYCLE PARKING REQUIRED RESIDENTIAL USE GROUP Single-Family & Mobile Home Dwellings None None Multifamily Dwellings and Group Dwelling 0.10 spaces per bedroom. Minimum requirement is 2 spaces. 0.5 spaces per bedroom. Minimum requirement is 2 spaces. Residential Care Services 0.05 spaces per bedroom. Minimum requirement is 2 spaces. 0.10 spaces per bedroom. Minimum requirement is 2 spaces. RETAIL TRADE USE GROUP* Retail Trade Uses Less Than 50,000 sq. ft. GFA: Retail Trade Uses 50,000 sq. ft. GFA – 99,999 sq. ft. GFA: Retail Trade Uses More Than 100,000 sq. ft. GFA: *The required number of bicycle parking spaces for multiple use development composed of more than one building shall be calculated on a per building basis using the formulas provided above.1 space per 5,000 sq. ft. GFA. Minimum requirement is 2 spaces.   1 space per 6,000 sq. ft. GFA  1 space per 7,000 sq. ft. GFA.  Maximum requirement is 150 spaces. 1 space per 12,000 sq. ft. GFA. Minimum requirement is 2 spaces. 1 space per 12,000 sq. ft. GFA 1 space per 12,000 sq. ft. GFA. Maximum requirement is 50 spaces. Gasoline Sales without Food and Beverage Sales None None Construction Material Sales, Furniture, Carpet, or Appliance Store; Heavy Equipment Sales; and Vehicle Rental and Sales 2 spaces  1 space per 12,000 sq. ft. GFA. Minimum requirement is 2 spaces. Maximum requirement is 10 spaces. Home Improvement Center  1 space per 12,000 sq. ft. GFA. Maximum requirement is 10 spaces. 1 space per 12,000 sq. ft. GFA. Maximum requirement is 10 spaces. STORAGE USE GROUP Commercial Storage & Hazardous Material Storage None 1 space per 40,000 sq. ft. GFA. Minimum requirement is 2 spaces. Maximum requirement is 10 spaces. Personal Storage 2 spaces None UTILITIES   None  None WHOLESALING USE GROUP   2 spaces  1 space per 40,000 sq. ft. GFA. Minimum requirement is 2 spaces. Maximum requirement is 10 spaces

  25. Bicycles locked to utility poles indicate a problem.  It’s similar to the Coffee Etc problem up the street.  The parking for cars is inadequate for the size of the business and traffic and vehicles spill over into the surrounding neighborhood.  Bicyclists wanting minimum infrastructure isn’t elitist in the same way the automobile drivers expecting to have a place to park their cars isn’t elitist.  

    What I’d like to see is higher quality bicycle parking.  The Community Center has those taller nicer plastic coated inverted U’s.  They should be the minimum.  Nobody expects a car driver to have to park their car in such a way that their expensive paint is damaged.  It’s pretty rare to find bicycle parking that doesn’t put your bicycle at risk of either being stolen or damaged or both.  

    I’m neither well off nor from a privileged socio economic class background.  I ride my bicycle for transportation not sport.   

    The absolute worst bike parking I’ve ever seen is the Food City on !st and Ft Lowell.  There are always bicycles there but since that strip mall hasn’t been updated in 40 years nobody is requiring them to actually provide upgraded bike parking.   By the way the Trader Joe’s bicycle parking still sucks it just sucks less than it did originally.  

  26. Your point is well taken.  Calling people fat is just not nice.  This is a lot like the glorious story of Greg Yares Richard Sachs bicycle being returned to him and we quickly end up talking about police eating donuts.  Huh?  

    Why anyone would respond to such an obvious trol mystifies me.  Porter1 that is.  It’s all ad hominem fallacy not an argument.  

  27.  Yes, it’s complex. More complicated than sweeping assertions can can account for. Open letters often gloss over things.

    3.3.8 and *seem* relevant but even if they are in this instance, note various exceptions and qualifications.

    In any case, it seems Jimmy John’s is a tenant and the use of the pad it rents didn’t change. Would it be more appropriate and effective to take up valid compliance concerns, lack of enforcement concerns (if valid) with the actual owners of the property? With the City? Indeed, for all we know, Jimmy John’s is not allowed by the rental agreement to install its own bike racks.

    Consider a rough thought experiment: People move in and out of apartment complexes all the time. It’s called turnover. If we find that an apartment complex doesn’t have the parking spaces striped just so, if the pool is deemed dirty, if the weeds are overgrown according to code, sewage all around, no running water, etc., etc., do we go knocking door to door and complain to the unfortunate tenants?

    And note that 3.3.8 and reference “Bicycle Cooridinator” and makes no mention of a designee when that position is vacant.

  28. Cyclists are people and they need to be cared for and looked out for by us when we are in our cars. They have virtually no protection and are extremely vulnerable out there on the road. It is disheartening that some motorists harbor such distain for a group of people who just like or prefer to ride a bike. Please have patience. You’ll get to wherever you are going a lot faster than the cyclist will. Well, in most cases you will get there faster, unless that cyclist is Bradley Wiggins. 

  29. The Spectrum shopping center on irvington and i-19 has bike lockers through out the developement. however they are pad locked. Accoridng to harkins management, the property manager decided it would be a good idea to pad lock( thus preventing anyone from using them) to keep homeless poeple from using them as a shelter. They also have bike racks, but the worst one is at the theater/harkins. thye are located out of sight( out of mind and would never park my bike there) away from anything.
    go figure, spend money on racks but install them in such a way to not encourage pople to ride their bikes to go shopping, dinner, or movies?

  30. Bet those lockers are the code required long term parking.  Just walk behind Sunflower, er Sprouts on 1st Avenue and you will see several double bike lockers all of them unused as near as I can tell by my semi intermittent perusal.  Too bad Tom Thivener fled, he knew an awful lot about bike parking and the requirements etc.  

  31. They are indeed. The new code actually reduced the number of long-term spots because they rarely get used. 

    The problems with them is if they leave them open, often homeless people move into them. 

    If they lock them, then people can’t use them unless they get the key. Trouble is the people who have the keys are often hard to reach or even in another state. 

    A great example of a bike locker is over at the Tucson Mall. It’s got open sides, which discourages sleeping it in and rather than having a lock built in, you use your own u-lock to lock it up. 

  32. Government red tape and loopholes are dizzying.  I forgot about the no change in use loophole.  Any change in building size or what they sell would’ve forced them into full compliance with all requirements.

  33.  I wasn’t trying to be snobby.  I could lose a few pounds myself, and should have explained my point more clearly.  The point is, the U.S. has a huge number of overweight people.  And many businesses make it extremely difficult for employees to do anything other than drive to work.  Bus service to the suburbs is spotty and inconvenient.  Where on earth would employees of say, Target or Petco, keep a bike during work hours?  I had to bring my bike inside the store by the cash registers to shop.   If these big centers do have a bike rack somewhere, it’s usually out back in the alley, in sight of the dumpsters,  in a location that is ripe for theft and vandalism of any bike left there for 10 minutes.  And if someone is earning minimum wage, having to drive a car to work must take a huge chunk of their hard-earned wages.

  34. The  bizarre complexities of Tucson’s code and all the discussion above, and all the demand underscores the need to get a bike coordinator  in here who can deal with not only getting bikes around but also parking them safely. Tom Thivener was very, very good at negotiating this mess.

    So, memo to TPD, Richard Miranda, City Council, new COT Transpo Director…

  35. Ammending the long defunct Coffee Etc to Coffee Exchange which has inadequate automobile parking and zero bicycle parking. 

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