The city’s recent bicycle rack installations, placed in former car parking spaces, are a terrific way to provide bicycle parking close to the entrances of popular destinations and emphasize that bicycles belong on the street. Some local business also recognize their customers arrive by bike and they deploy bicycle racks accordingly. By doing so, they can encourage even more people to pedal. And spend money.
Sadly, though, some store owners and shopping center managers just don’t get the idea that their cycling customers are no different than those who drive, in that they would prefer to park their vehicles near the entrance to the business. Like motorists, their desire to park near the entrance becomes more acute when the weather is bad. But this concept is lost on those who select locations for bike racks as if they were HVAC units or generators, placing them at the side or in back of buildings so they are “out of the way.” They are not just out of the way, they are out of sight.
This makes them difficult for cyclists to find, which might actually be a good thing, because using these racks may put cyclists at risk. Think about it: When folks drive to the store alone at night, do they generally feel comfortable parking near a poorly lighted loading dock at the rear of the store? Are they OK with leaving their cars in the shadows on the sides of buildings, where few people go unless they wish to engage in activities they would prefer others not to see? Cyclists are no different.
I took the photo above of a lonely bicycle rack at a local big box retailer after I discovered it quite by accident. I doubt it has ever been used for its intended purpose. Anyone recognize this location?