Biking in the AV

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The joys and challenges of riding in the Antelope Valley

What’s wrong with this bike rack?

June 21st, 2011 at 15:57

I rode over to the Vons and Rite-Aid located at 30th St West and Rancho Vista Blvd this morning to get a few items I needed, including the ingredients for making homemade veggie pizza tonight. There is no bike parking at the Vons, but there is a bike rack near the Rite-Aid.

Rite-Aid bike rack

Bike rack at Rite-Aid and Vons

While I appreciate that there is bike parking at all at the shopping center, what is wrong with this bike rack that’s provided?

According to the Bicycle Parking Guidelines [PDF] published by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals:

The rack element should:

  • Support the bicycle upright by its frame in two places
  • Prevent the wheel of the bicycle from tipping over
  • Enable the frame and one or both wheels to be secured
  • Support bicycles without a diamond-shaped frame with a horizontal top tube (e.g. a mixte frame)
  • Allow front-in parking: a U-lock should be able to lock the front wheel and the down tube of an upright bicycle
  • Allow back-in parking: a U-lock should be able to lock the rear wheel and seat tube of the bicycle

Comb, toast, schoolyard, and other wheel-bending racks that provide no support for the bicycle frame are NOT recommended. [emphasis mine]

This rack is clearly an example of a wheel-bending toast rack. Whenever I park my folding bike here, I don’t use it as it was intended. In other words, I don’t put the bike’s front wheel into one of the slots. Instead, I attach the bike to the outside of the end of the rack, sliding the U-lock and cable lock through that end wire piece and the cable lock to the wheels and the U-lock. It’s not an elegant solution, but it works.

In addition, the Guidelines state:

The rack area should be located along a major building approach line and clearly visible from the approach. The rack area should be no more than a 30-second walk (120 feet) from the entrance it serves and should preferably be within 50 feet.

A rack area should be as close or closer than the nearest car parking space. A rack area should be clearly visible from the entrance it serves.

I didn’t measure how far away it is placed, but the rack is quite a ways from the Rite-Aid’s entrance. It is also not “clearly visible from the entrance.” The newspaper racks to its left make it difficult to see. And it is definitely more than 120 feet from the entrance of the Vons. This is the only bike parking provided for the entire shopping center, other than handicapped sign posts in the parking lot.

Another thing. Paul Avila, President of the High Desert Cyclists, built a bakfiets-style cargo bike — similar to this — for shopping at this local Vons. He lives less than a mile away and it makes a lot of sense for him to ride a bike rather than waste gas driving a car over there. This rack is inadequate for parking a cargo bike.

Paul has been in contact with the people responsible for bike parking at this shopping center. We hope that in the near future, it will be improved.

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2 Responses to “What’s wrong with this bike rack?”

  1. Steve Herbert Says:

    This is not uncommon. I was just at my local Ralphs this afternoon with the cargo bike and they had this exact same model bike rack, and several bikes locked to handicap parking signs. I found a railing that worked well for locking the cargo bike, but it was definitely more than 120′ from the entrance. Still with the store a mile away it still makes sense to ride.

    Bike parking is one of the key elements to using it for errands, & fortunately one of the least expensive things for a business to provide. The average parking space costs $15,000 per space, a well designed bike rack $500 – $2000.

  2. Paul Avila Says:

    I’ll follow up with the property manager right now.

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