Bike Parking, the Good and the Bad

We did pretty well with crowdsourcing some winter cycling tips so maybe we can try that again. Comment on this post if you have anything to say at all about bike parking where you live/work/shop.

My work recently moved from a building that we were subletting to a new building where we would be the only tenant. Our previous location’s bike parking facilities were handled by the landlord and volume was quite generous. When we moved, the building was still under construction and there were no bike racks at all. We were asked to park across the street at another business’s bike rack or in the bike rack at the bus stop right out front. It was only about  a week until the racks were installed on premises.

I was never really comfortable with the options though. The other business had its own cyclists, as did the bus stop. I brought my bike into my cubicle for the week.

Also, It seems that most Timmies in the area are those island-in-a-parking-lot variety. There’s a store, surrounded partially by a sidewalk, then surrounded by a parking lot. I biked with my kids over to one near my house and we had to lean the bikes against the glass so we could keep our eyes on them. There was nowhere to park or lock a bike.

Who does well and who does poorly? Don’t be afraid to name names of businesses with exceptional/derelict bike parking facilities. Have you ever tried to get a change in a location where you felt the facilities were inferior? What happened?

24 thoughts on “Bike Parking, the Good and the Bad

  1. First visit to the new Waterloo Y, which is coupled with a new library branch, was marred by the lack of secure bicycle parking. It seems absurd that a LEED certified building opening in late 2011 could be designed without it. The building hasn’t been completed so I can only hope that it’s still going to be implemented.

  2. The Natural Way (where I go for massage) on Union. The building contains naturopaths, chiropractors, massage therapist, and a dentist or two. You’d think with tenants like that you’d have a need for a bike rack but you are stuck locking to the hydro meter. I really should ask if they can put one in.

    Zerhs Conestoga Mall – nice bike rack right by the entrance. I also was surprised how helpful the bike people in Sportcheck were on a two occasions.

  3. I came out of work today and my bike had been knocked down while in the bike rack. Apparently for the second time of the day. The rim was still in the rack, but the bike had leaned way over. Looked pretty hard on the rim to be dangling.

    Here’s a picture of the rack. I had already pulled the bike out.

  4. When the “Neighbourhood Credit Union” (King @ William) renovated its entrance last year, they put in a nice new garden, a nice new ramp… and got rid of their bike rack. One time after closing, I offered a “suggestion” to them on the back of an ATM receipt slipped under their locked front door… no luck so far.

    I’m glad the LCBO across the street finally got some ring & post racks. Unless I missed them the Heuther doesn’t have any. What’s a thirsty man to do?

    1. There are some post & ring racks at the corner of Bridgeport and King, which is close enough to the Huether for me. I think there’s also one along the street between the Huether and that intersection. Sometimes I just lock to one of the garbage cans along the street, but they’re not ideal.

    2. I need to retract my accusation: I hadn’t actually visited that Neighbourhood Credit Union in a while and they now have beautiful ring-and-post bike racks!

      I’ll have to slip a thank you note under the door sometime.

  5. I hear that Toronto will install bike racks if the business owner asks. Not so much in Waterloo.

    The no-bikes-in-buildings policy at the University of Waterloo is really annoying. One day I’m going to work on changing that.

    I can almost always park at the Sobey’s on Bridgeport and Weber; the three post & ring racks are good. There are also enough things to lock up to in Downtown Kitchener.

    1. The no-bikes-in-buildings policy at UW wouldn’t be so bad if there were actually covered parking available. I can’t really think of any on campus. Someday I’m going to move a bunch of bike racks up to the covered veranda around Porter library, and see how long they stay there…

      1. There’s a part of the EIT building (in the alley by E3) that hangs over some bike racks and gives shelter to the bikes closest to the wall, provided it’s not too windy. Though if you’re a grad student and your supervisor doesn’t care, you can easily get away with bringing a bike inside.

  6. The Kitchener Market has pretty terrible bike parking, considering how much they spent on the place… mind you the rest of the building is terribly designed as well, so it fits with it.

    The food basics on highland doens’t have a rack that is bolted to ground but there is a long random railing that makes a wicked bike rack so I shop there. Sobeys doesn’t have one that is bolted down. The LCBO on highland has a few racks out front that aren’t bad.

    I can’t think of any place that has good bike parking, really.

  7. Central Fresh Market has installed ring & post racks that are pretty great… right next to their front doors. Same with Vincenzo’s, if you can afford to shop there.

    The one that’s bothered me is the bike parking outside Valuemart in the Uptown mall. It’s a long rack, but short, so you can only lock your wheel, unless are lucky enough to get an end section, but those have roughly cut pipe that scratches pretty easily. Considering taxes pay for their parking lot, you’d think they could spend a few bucks on a decent bike rack…

    I irritated by it for a few years, so I finally went in last June and complained to the property management office. She didn’t understand what I was talking about – “What’s wrong with the bike rack we already have?” Instead of explaining it to her in person, I got an email address to I could express myself in writing.

    I wrote her a long explanation of why their rack was inadequate, highlighted their location along the Iron Horse, and linked to “Toronto’s Guide to Good Bike Parking” (http://www.toronto.ca/planning/pdf/bicycle_parking_guidelines_final_may08.pdf). I pestered them a little more over the summer, and just recently heard back that they’ve ordered two new racks that should be installed soon! Hopefully they’re good quality, and bolted down properly…

      1. I checked – that’s the old one that I complained about. It was totally full yesterday when I saw it. Still waiting on the new ones.

  8. Tim Hortons are brutal in St. Catharines. Not a single one has a bike rack or proper place to park.
    Walmart is so-so. Our older one has covered parking but employees tend to always sit on them and smoke, while our newer one is constantly moving them around.

    Grocery stores are hit and miss, but for the most part are fine.
    One of our Food Basics and one of our FreshCo’s installed new bike racks within the past year.

    One of the better businesses is actually Home Depot. They took a space in the parking lot (next to the propane tanks) and put bike parking in. It’s not covered but a good safe space.

    Our downtown library branch is outstanding now. There use to be one large bike rack plus one small. Now they have added a few more bike racks, plus I discovered one in the underground garage.
    The library branch I frequent use to have a bike rack (tire killer type), but a few weeks ago the plaza it’s located in removed it for some unknown reason, which means leaning it against the wall. Fortunately it’s relocating next year and I hear it’s suppose to have good parking.

    St. Catharines isn’t horrible for bike parking actually, mainly because if there aren’t any bike racks near by, there are plenty of polls, fences etc.

  9. Strange as it may sound, I was recently impressed by the bike parking at Luther Village/Sunshine Centre Assisted Retirement Complex. They have one big long wavy bar that could easily accommodate 6 bikes. I imagine it’s more for the employees and guests than for the residents, but it’s great that they have it, whatever the reason.

  10. Here’s a request: if anyone knows where to buy bike “lockers” — the enclosed locking user fee type — please post a link. Ditto any type of bike parking infrastructure hardware. Sometimes the people in power are only to blame for their ignorance of both the demand for good bike parking options and the knowledge of where to cost and source them. The best type of complaint is formatted as helpful advice and bringing an issue to light (sometimes).

    1. Good point, Ron. I found two bike rack manufacturers in Ontario:
      http://www.bikeup.com/ (Nepean)
      http://www.bikerack.ca/ (Toronto)

      Another site (http://www.bicycleparkingonline.org/Resources) lists a bunch of other suppliers from across the country and the US.

      I don’t know about lockers, but Grand River Transit has some outside Charles Street and Ainsley Terminals (http://www.grt.ca/en/usingtransit/bikeracks.asp) so they might be able to tell you where they bought theirs.

  11. I had a few errands to run in uptown Waterloo the other day where the stores I had to visit were all fairly close together. I usually just try to lock up by the store but instead used the bike rack in Uptown’s parking garage and walked to the various stores.

    The rack is great. It’s properly bolted down, visible and accessible to King Street and covered from the elements. Not to mention there were a number of other quality bikes that were also locked up which adds to sense of security. Next time I’ll check if there’s video surveillance.

  12. I’ve been meaning to design a printable “Bicycle parking evaluation” flyer to carry around and hand to managers when I park at their business. It would have a few checkboxes for “No bike parking”, “Inadequate parking” (wheel bender, low design, insufficient spots, etc.), and “Good bike parking” (positive feedback helps!) Also include some statistics for how cycling infrastructure can help businesses, contact info for good rack manufacturers, and suggestions to contact municipal governments to lobby for more lanes and public racks.

    1. That’s a great idea, Mike. You should totally do this, and make them available here for download. I’d print them out and carry them with me for sure.

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