Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Bicycle Parking

One of my co-workers was just named as employee of themonth.....for November. Let's just say the program is running a little behind.

There are some perks that go with this. For the next month, he gets to use the EOM parking space right next to the front door. I was wondering what I'd do if they ever gave me the award. Could I put the reserved parking sign on the bicycle rack? It's an idea that appeals to my fondness for the absurd.

Actually, since I ride my bike most days, I already have a great parking space. There's a tiny parking lot right in front of the building. The main parking lot is across the street, so some employees will wait and wait and wait for a spot to open out front. Now, they could park across the street and walk, and that would probably take less time than waiting for a spot, but they sit there, engine idling, until someone leaves.

The bike rack is right out front too. Until our new security fence went up, I had an even better spot in the shade right next to the building. It was about 4 steps from the door. I could leave at the end of the shift and be out of the parking lot before the traffic started to build. The new rack is about 50 feet from the EOM parking spot, but still closer than the main lot.

I'm lucky too, in that my workplace is inside the security perimeter of an airport, so the bike rack is inside the security zone too. Theft and pilferage are not a problem. Today, for instance, I rode my carbon-fiber racing bike, and I don't worry about leaving it on the rack outside. (The weather report is calling for 20-30 mph headwinds on my way home. Much as I love riding a fixed gear, on days like this I want lower gears!)

My situation is the exception. Most bicycle parking leaves much to be desired. Security is probably the biggest problem. We all worry about bike theft. There are some simple, common-sense approaches to stopping bike thieves. One idea is to ride an 'ugly' bike - an old bike that may be in excellent mechanical shape, but is just plain ugly. Some people will spray flat black paint onto a perfectly good frame, or cover it with black electrical tape. They'll ride old three speeds, single speeds, or fixed gears. Some folks carry two locking systems because thieves reportedly won't carry the tools to defeat more than one.

I went with the ugly bike approach when I worked in a large metropolitan hospital. I rode a Paris Sport track bike with a scabrous golden brown paint job. It came from the factory that way! The hospital had a bike rack inside the parking garage. I locked the bike there with the original Kryptonite lock (it was a LONG time ago!), took of the front wheel, pump, and lights, and
walked to my work area. No one would steal a bike with only one wheel.


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