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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly column: Parking your bike: what's the big deal?


June 16, 2010

Pulling into the big box store’s parking lot on my bike, I scan for a suitable place to lock-up. First I check the main entrances for bike racks. Finding none, I seek, still close to the door —and preferably under cover of some kind — a stationary object on which to attach a cable lock. Alas, because it’s a big box, everything’s oversized with nowhere to hook onto. So I resign myself to once again use either the closest “handicapped parking” signpost or parking lot island tree. Is that any way to treat a paying customer?

Those who don’t bicycle, or who do but don’t use their bikes for running errands such as shopping, might not consider this much of a problem. But having a convenient, secure and shaded or otherwise covered place to leave your low-impact transportation is just as important as parking for motor vehicles. And because of how vulnerable a bike is to theft and weather, it’s even more vital that businesses try to accommodate customers’ needs even before they walk in the door. It’s also about dignity and options.

The bike parking at the First Street Village Publix provides a good example of what businesses can do for their customers. The various governments that regulate what commercial areas must have in place before opening their doors may or may not require bike parking. But they all have strict rules about motor vehicle parking requirements, requirements than equate to significant dollars. One estimate I’ve found puts the price of an average parking spot at $16,000. Bike racks can cost as little as $200, and in some cases allow commercial property developers to forgo a parking space or two if they provide more than minimum bike parking accommodation (or, in some cases, any bike parking at all.) From a business perspective it makes sense to make customers who cycle to the door feel like we’re wanted. I, for one, make a point to do business with those who clearly want me there.

One business owner who’s gone above and beyond in that respect is Billy Kirkland, owner of Billy’s Bike Rentals on Sanibel Island. He obviously has a vested business interest in having appropriate places to park bikes, but Mr. Kirkland is also personally dedicated to encouraging bike use for function as much as for enjoyment. Out of his own pocket he has purchased and installed bike racks at numerous destinations on the island. That personal and business decision, along with the many other communityminded things he does, has had positive results many times over the cost. Business owners and customers take note.

Olympic cyclist coming to town

Former Olympian and U.S. Cycling Hall of Fame member Skip Cutting is an artist whose works will be on display beginning with an opening reception on Friday, June 18, at the Art of the Olympians Museum in downtown Fort Myers. While in town, Mr. Cutting will lead a bike ride on Fathers’ Day, Sunday, June 20. Everyone is welcome to participate in a 30-miler that begins and ends at the museum on the river at the end of Hendry Street. For those who don’t want to go that far — and perhaps as fast as Mr. Cutting might ride — a 10-15-mile ride will also be available. There’s no cost, and refreshments will be provided before and after the rides. On Thursday, June 24, beginning at 6 p.m., Mr. Cutting will be talking about his cycling experiences at a Caloosa Riders meeting, also at the museum. Again, all are welcome, free of charge. For more information, contact Art of the Olympians Museum at 332-5055 or go to www.artoftheolympians.org.

Advocacy news

Unfortunately, even after much pressure having been exerted on Gov. Charlie Crist to do otherwise, he signed into law HB 971, the bill that has a number of anti-bike/ped measures. The good news is that by explaining unintended consequences, even the sponsors of the bill have misgivings about some of its provisions. Additionally, the Florida Bicycle Association and others who are concerned about the bill’s effects will be following closely the rulemaking process in order to minimize its impact. FBA will also work to have the offending portions of HB 971 rescinded in the next legislative session. You can stay abreast of this issue at www.floridabicycle.org and www.bikewalklee.org.

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails. 

— Dan Moser is league cycling instructor/ trainer and a former bike/ped coordinator who cycles regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at moserdeleon@juno.com or 334-6417.

1 comment:

  1. I ride bike trails in and around Orlando and I often talk to people who tell me that trail riding has inspired them to bike to work or shopping. The biggest issue seems to be secure, covered bike parking. I'm told that some buildings allow bikes to be parked inside, but why not all? Imagine how many cars we could take off the road and how much more fit as a nation we could be with inside bike parking. After all, what is more unsightly - bikes parked inside the corner of a building, or overweight people roaming the halls?

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