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Ponderings on Bike Racks

Riding a bicycle regularly has been a delight. So much so, that i’ve changed my commute habits to use the bike on short daily errands. A funny bike related habit I’ve picked up alongside is finding and photographing Bike Racks. I find them interesting. They are a critical piece of bike life that usually fades into the urban landscape.

“Find the Bike Rack” is now a fun game I play at new locations. It’s not always easy.

My very first outing I took with my bike was a ride to the bike shop. My little cruiser, Luna, needed a basket. So why not ride her to the store? It was only a few miles away, perfect for a maiden voyage. The ride itself was a breeze—wind in my hair, sun licking my face, desert blooms zooming by. Very cliché. But when I arrived to the bike shop with my shiny new bike, my Italian movie scene ended. There was nowhere to park it. Such an ironic absence that burned itself into my brain. Even more bewildering, there are two bike shops in my area and both are void of bike racks. (soft sigh)

The aforementioned stores are located inside strip malls, so perhaps the racks are somewhere in the cluster of buildings. However, I could not find them after many minutes searching. For the record, Strip Malls are the worst. They are by far the hardest to find bike parking readily. Most reliable spot is the grocery store. Bonus, grocery store lots are usually brightly lit. Not many other stores can boast that level vehicle parking. I don’t particularly enjoy parking my bike in alleys far away from my destination. But this is a reality. Sometimes bike parking is an afterthought. Even when available, it may be entirely out of the way and stuck near a trash bin or the smoking area. Some racks are in a state of disrepair with bolts missing or not anchored adequately. Many are just plain ugly or dirty (filthy). On the rare occasion, I find some that are cleverly designed or integrated into the decor. To whoever designed and positioned those beautiful racks, I do take notice.

Perhaps the number of bike racks is perfectly proportional for the amount of people that ride. But it’s curious to me that my city with its miles and miles of paths, admittedly a great bike infrastructure, does not have a matching infrastructure at storefronts. They come up missing at locations that seem like a natural fit (ahem, Bike Store mentioned above). My local bookstore and coffee shop are also missing areas for bike parking. These seem like ideal destinations for a casual rider. In my romantic fantasies, the city is filled with bikers who frequent their local bookstore. It could be my hipster expectations creeping in here.

Are bike racks actually perfect sized or am I being unreasonable? I can’t tell if this new commuter bias. All I do know is… On many occasions I end up tethering my bike to a fence or pole, or pulling the bike indoors with approval from a nice store owner.

Example Wheel/Frame Lock

I’ve noticed newer bikes and rentals have built in wheel/frame locks, so that you may potentially park them anywhere. This is super convenient. How likely is someone to steal a bike when it is within easy sight? Maybe that is the future. Using frame locks to combat bike theft is very appealing. Although opinions on frame locks aren’t universal.

In the meantime, I’ll continue searching for lowly bike racks and taking my pictures. A few of them will wind up on my Instagram.

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