I’m finally starting to work on form letters to send to businesses whose bike parking needs improvement.

I’d like to get your feedback on what should be included in the letters, but first I’ll share a story that might illustrate how these letters can be helpful.

Early on a recent morning last week, I planned to get a few dozen bagels for my students for the last day of class. As I rolled into the parking lot, I spotted the rack they provided.

It was an old style rack that requires you to put your wheel in a slot and doesn’t allow you to lock up your frame. In addition to wheel-only locking, this particular rack requires you to lift the front wheel three feet off the ground, which is made more difficult with a cargo bike.

The rack was placed across the parking lot, covered in weeds and appeared to not be secured to the ground.

Because of all of these factors, I decided to forgo the rack and just wheel my bike into the mostly empty bagel shop. I parked the bike in an out of the way spot and waited for the employee to help me.

When he saw the bike, he said I couldn’t park the bike inside the store. I explained that the bike rack they provided wasn’t really adequate and that I just wanted to pick up a couple dozen bagels and I’d get going. He said again the bike couldn’t be in the shop because someone could trip over it.

He also said the rack was more than adequate. When I told him I couldn’t lift the bike into the wheel slot and it wouldn’t allow me to lock the frame, he said I could lock up on the outside edge of the rack.

I explained that I could probably do that, but that the rack wasn’t secured to anything and could be taken, not that it was actually going to happen at 6:15 a.m.

He told me the rack was secure because cars hit it all the time and it never moved. As if that was a selling point for using the rack.

I told him I’d have to take my business elsewhere and left the shop.

Having a letter that could be sent to the manager or owner of the shop outlining why quality bike parking is important and beneficial to them would be helpful.

That said, I want your feedback on what needs to be included.

I’m thinking we’ll need form letters that apply to businesses with no bike parking, bike parking that is too far away, not enough bike parking and old racks that aren’t functional. Anything else?

I’d also like to include a section about why it is beneficial to the business to include bike parking. Thoughts I had were encouraging people to ride their bike to the business frees up more parking spaces for other shoppers, allows cyclists to utilize their business, keeps cyclists from locking to other items cluttering up their walkway. What other benefits are there?

Lastly, I’ll include a section about the new parking rules the city is working on, which instructs businesses on the best practices when it comes to bike parking as well as resources for getting bike racks purchased and installed.

What other suggestions do you have?

22 thoughts on “Bike parking form letters: What should be included?”
  1. Maybe if you get someone from the department of transportation to sign this letters as well. Or signs from the department of transportation of something like “bicycle friendly business” for those who meet the requirements of providing adequate racks for bicycles

  2. — He told me the rack was secure because cars hit it all the time and it never moved.

    classic… yesterday rode downtown on my bike to fight a car parking ticket (won) and had a bitch of a time trying to find a place tolock up on alameda (court building was 103 east alameda). looked around and could not find a reasonable place to park. (there may have been racks but if they were they were not obvious). wound up locking my bike in front of an office building on church and walking over…

  3. Don’t create enemies.. bikes really do not belong inside a place serving food. Could not lift front of bike, only locks wheel, someone might steal bike with rack attached??? Please….. What ever happened to common sense? Park it out side the window and watch it yourself. How many bagels sales does it take to buy a “sturdy, close and secure” rack?
    Be friendly to businesses… forget the big brother gov to take care of your needs.

  4. First thing I would do is shame the business by actually publishing their name — and possibly including their phone/email/address. Maybe you can start a “bad bike parking” of the week post?

    As for the letter, it might be worth finding demographics for people who bike commute; I think they tend to be healthier and maybe wealthier than car drivers, which may appeal to certain kinds of businesses.

  5. I was just thinking about this the other day. An easy way for a businesses to Go Green is to paint their bike racks green since the color green is synonymous with the green movement. Add a stencil that says “Eco-friendly” or “Bike Friendly Business” as Adrian suggested and viola. Your business is green for the cost of a $5 can of spray paint.

    Since non-bikey people usually ignore bike racks the green color will get the rack noticed and they will think the business is going green. It will also make the racks easier to find for cyclists. For businesses without adequate bike parking I’m sure bike racks aren’t that expensive so installing some is also an easy way to go green.

    The new green racks will also popularize bike riding in general and the green movement and maybe the folks waiting around for electric cars to save the day will realize that bikes can save the day right now. No waiting necessary.

    P.S. Subway Sandwiches, you need some bike parking…. and bagels. 🙂

  6. This misses the point. He’s not asking “big brother gov” to take care of his needs, he’s asking the business to. That’s what businesses are supposed to do. This one didn’t.

    Also, “bikes really do not belong inside a place serving food”. Why not? I’ll bet a bagel that the dirt and germs (or whatever else) on the bottom of our shoes is not any different from that on two skinny bike tires.

  7. The idea that bicycles are forbidden from buildings that serve food is a little ridiculous… there are numerous food places that park their own delivery bicycles indoors (some near the front door, some behind the counter). Ever been to a Jimmy Johns?

  8. I was 1 of about 3 people in a McD one day and brought my bike in cuz of no rack and told to take it out despite the place being empty and my bike being way off to the side.

    I don’t buy the ‘sanitation’ or ‘tripping risk’ arguments – what about the huge baby strollers these days? These supposed valid arguments could just as well apply to those.

  9. I had a good laugh about your description of the bike rack… wheel only and lifted three feet off the ground. Ironically, they have those at the Performance bike on Speedway. I’d love to send a letter to a huge bike shop that their bike parking sucks…

  10. The Tempe Bicycle Action Group up in Tempe is rolling up its sleeves to work on this problem in the Tempe area, and I’m going to try and see if TBAG can help you come up with good ideas. Obviously the letter should be relatively brief.

    Some of the businesses up here run into the problem of negotiating bike parking with landlords, which seems like it just generally complicates things. I think what would be most useful is: a summary of the arguments about why bike racks are good for business, what makes for good bike parking (you can probably consult Tucson’s bike master plan for info on that, but the website posted above provides some tips), and then last but not least, information on how to obtain/install proper bike racks, plus the cost of such racks, places where they can be purchased, info on who can help to install them, and any programs available in/around Tucson that could facilitate installation (subsidizing rack prices/etc.).

    In a lot of cases, it seems to me like businesses should install a bike rack that occupies a single car parking spot, so the rack is up close to the entrance to the business (visible from the business’s window). Think about it – at least 8 bikes could fit into the space of a single car, and that’s 8 potential clients instead of 1 or maybe 2.

    Also, I’m not sure about Tucson, but Tempe’s bike master plan has a lot of regulations/guidelines for new development, but they don’t do much about older buildings/retrofitting. So, new businesses have decent infrastructure, older businesses don’t.

  11. Putting the bike racks in a car spot (take two) is the most reasonable and practical thing. It regards bikes as real transportation on par with cars and really is easiest in that shops don’t have to seek out a ‘special’ place for the bikes. Oh, and where is the bike corral for 4th Ave.? Bike parking is overloaded there. Why does it take sooooo looonnngg to do the simplest things in this town?
    Sorry, Mike, I don’t have suggestions for a letter, but business walking out and riding away is the most effective. You did the right thing. Or actually a letter to the manager stating what you did – to make sure he knows about it would be best.

  12. I’m with Ian. Publish their name and you’ll be much more likely to get a bike rack. You don’t have to be nasty about it — just describe what happened. It’s not hard for a business to install a bike rack to accommodate their customers and the owner of the business may actually be interested in knowing there is a problem.

    I just hope I don’t show up on your list some day. There is no bike parking outside my office and I hear about this from many of my clients. Unfortunately, my landlord refuses to permit me to install a rack — even at my own expense — outside my office.

    But visitors of course are welcome to bring their bikes in!

    –Erik Ryberg

  13. How about offering to include their logo and location on a map on the Tucson Velo site–Bike Friendly Businesses! I like the Green idea too. Be sure to insist that the racks are where they can be seen from prominent doors/windows.

    And don’t forget to take on the UofA with this. They don’t allow bikes in buildings because it is a “fire hazard.” And I was told that it would hurt a Persian rug to roll cross it (and wasn’t permitted to pick up the bike to walk it across)–although the rug is in the lobby and everyone who comes into the building has to walk across it (and no one says anything about strollers). Oh and the racks–around back of the building somewhere…. not where you really want to leave an expensive bike on a campus with known for bike theft!

  14. “I planned to get a few dozen bagels for my students for the last day of class. As I rolled into the parking lot, I spotted the rack they provided.”

    Darn self-defeating students…

    Anyway, years ago at some bay area bastion of socialism/leftism/communism there was a tenured economics professor (grad students only) who would sometimes lay down a pack of Marlboro Reds and a Scripto lighter on the lecture table, and clear his throat before launching the day’s 50 minute lecture. Sometimes (it seemed to be stochastic,we could never figure it out) he would exclaim “pop quiz!” as he did this. There were complaints. He defended himself: “I have tenure.”

    What were you planning to charge the students for the bagels?

  15. Erik,
    Aren’t you afraid that bikes will be a trip hazard, or bring in aweful germs. You could get sued, you know. : }

  16. Michael,
    I saw a clerk at at Bookman’s throw a guy out who’d brought his bike in. You can’t censor books, but it’s seems that bikes don’t have the same protection. lol
    I think you did the right thing in leaving the bagel shop without making a purchase. You should have put the name of the shop in your article. I suggest you send a letter to the shop owner with the same information you gave here.
    I hope you find another bagel shop, life is better with bagels!

  17. There’s 2 problems with allowing students to bring bikes inside UofA buildings. (neither of which apply to most small businesses) First, they would literally destroy the inside hallways by scratching and gouging the walls. Second, where would you put them? In the hallways? That’s about the only choice, and the problem that the fire marshal has isn’t a fire hazard per se but rather an escape hazard if people are rushing down a hallway and tripping over bikes. At the UofA it’s not going to be 1 bike it will be 100.

  18. You could mention the fact that they will be seen as a greener company. They could increase business by freeing up parking spots to increase turnover. They will certainly appeal to cyclists if they make locking up the bikes easy and secure as opposed to going to a competitor who doesn’t have a rack or an old fashioned one that doesn’t allow you to lock up the frame.

  19. It’s relatively simple to install materials along walls to reduce wear-and-tear of that sort.

    From what I understand, there are statewide regulations on bringing bicycles into buildings on the university campuses – it’s not allowed at ASU, either, despite the fact that some of the buildings on campus earned their LEED certification because they contain spaces specifically designed for in-building bike storage. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

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