I submitted the letter about the bike parking issue at Trader Joe’s yesterday. Thank you for all your feedback. While hunting down the proper location to submit the letter (Online feedback form) I ended up speaking with the store manager.
We had a pleasant conversation about bicycle parking and the store’s pumpkin patch.
Here’s what we talked about.
Apparently a lot of people mentioned there needed to be more bicycle parking, which is what prompted them to add an additional bicycle rack at their own expense even though the bicycle parking is the development owner’s responsibility. He was disappointed to learn that the rack they picked doesn’t work for the majority of bikes.
As far as the pumpkin patch goes, he was aware it was an issue and investigated putting it in the parking lot, but was told it would violate the land use code, which requires a certain number of parking spots for cars.
He said when they designed the pumpkin patch this year they tried to make the area work for bicyclists as well. We talked about the new zoning rules that went into effect recently, which allows businesses to use a car parking space for bicycle parking without penalty.
I gave him Tom Thivener, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian program manager’s, phone number. He said he would call him and investigate using a parking space for bicycle parking. The downside is you would lose the shade the current parking area provides. The upside is it would make the bikes more visible and less likely to be messed with.
Lastly, we chatted about the employee’s insinuation that a bicyclist’s money is worth less than a motorist’s. He apologized for the attitude and assured me that he hears the concerns bicyclists have and wants to make it better. He asked for his name, but my goal wasn’t to get anyone in trouble, but rather improve the situation for cyclists.
Overall it was a pleasant conversation. He was appreciative of my being a reasonable person capable of listening to his concerns and challenges.
It does however highlight one very big challenge when trying to improve conditions for bicyclists at businesses.
Often the businesses aren’t the actual owners of the retail centers, which means they often don’t have the authority to improve things.
Some businesses will use this as an excuse to ignore your request. I’ve been told many times they can’t do something because they don’t own the building or the land.
I often argued that even though the retailer may not own the location, most people don’t see the distinction and it reflects poorly on their businesses.
It seems like the land owner is much more likely to respond to the retailer that is paying rent than the customer who doesn’t actually pay the owner at all. I do everything I can to get the retailer on board and have them approach the owner of the building.
4 thoughts on “Trader Joe’s bike parking update”
Good points. Good job. Thanks.
Surely the Trader Joe’s at 4209 N. Campbell isn’t the only grocery in Tucson. What is the bike parking situation at the many others during this season of promo and shopping frenzy?
As an aside, one might to keep in mind this: “City staff stressed that the new code only affects new developments and not existing businesses.”
Time to go back to city council and request a blanket variance for existing businesses that facilitates bike parking (i.e., a tiny but scaled reduction in required car parking spaces–say, one or two, or three)? Red Star’s hunch is that commercial property owners will go along with changes in the code. The main thing for them is that the rent gets paid, being that parking lots have to generate revenue for the tenant just as floor space given over to Crispy Spicy Soy Garlic Chicken Wings at $3.99 for each 16 ounce bag, must.
If Trader Joe’s doesn’t think bicyclists spend money there, I’ll shop elsewhere from now on. Once Halloween is over, they’ll want to use the bike parking space for a Christmas tree patch, etc. I confess that I have been driving to the TJ’s at Wilmot and Speedway, in part because it is far from where I live. I’ve never seen a bike rack near that store. But I live much closer to Safeways with nice bike racks right in front of the stores, and from now on that’s where my money will go. I shouldn’t be driving distances for groceries, anyway.
Red Star (and Mrs. Red Star) did a fill-in bike trip to Sunflower at Speedway and Swan early this Sunday morning (because somebody neglected to update the spreadsheet in August), and hauled back 60 lbs. of stuff.
The store is little bit out of our way compared to Safeway at Broadway and Campbell, the city’s asphalt is standard Midtown poor to fair, and the sun was in and out of our eyes. Nevertheless, that Sunflower seems to be making a bikey effort with what it can control: the racks are arrayed along the front window in a fenced area of tables and chairs between the two entrances to the store. They are visible from inside the store partly because of their location but also because Sunflower’s business model doesn’t involve forcing customers into a creepy and manipulative slot-canyon environment, so one can keep an eye on the bikes while shopping. No car parking spaces were harmed in this effort! The only quibble is that the bike racks are the awful inverted U-racks, but there are always the fence and chairs and tables to lock a bike. If you team-shop, then one can stay outside and watch the bikes while the other shops inside.
Even crossing Speedway was mellow this early Sunday morning.