Tagbike racks

Grocery Store Ratings: Nevada takes a stab

I’m glad at least one of my ideas is “taking off.”

Muscle Powered, a community group in Carson City, Nevada, “dedicated to making Nevada’s capital city a better community for bicycling and walking,” has posted their first review of Carson City Grocery Store Bike Parking. They’ve geocoded their locations and graded the racks as well. The grading system is well-defined but still abstract enough so as not to let the issue of getting bike parking at stores in one’s community get bogged down by small details.

In Chicago, we have a “crew” of two working on identifying good and bad bike parking in Chicago. There’s me and Samantha, better known as Ding Ding Let’s Ride. The tough part is communicating good bike parking practices to the grocery stores. While the City of Chicago has clear guidelines on how and where to install bike racks, it cannot solve the grocery store problem because the store entrances are often so far away from the sidewalk. It’s also partially a business’s responsibility to provide “transportation storage” for their customers, especially for a destination that’s popular for people to ride their bikes to.

This Home Depot in Carson City, Nevad, has a decent bike rack (wide waves make it easy to maneuver bike into position) but poor placement. Bike racks should be place 24 inches from any wall or other object, at a minimum. Photos by Dan Allison of Muscle Powered. More photos from Dan below.

I’m glad that there are others out there that take bicycle parking as seriously as I do. I know of some other people around the country. Are you one?

These racks at Safeway are not acceptable. They do not allow the bike rider to lock any part of the bicycle frame.

Another scene of bike parking in Carson City, Nevada.

Introducing Grocery Store Bike Parking Ratings

This article is part of a series (it seems) of grocery stores with poor bike parking – it first started with my local Dominick’s. I started an inventory and rating system for Chicago. I welcome your contribution. If you want to start a page for your town, I can help you with that.

After seeing the photos of the wacky bike parking situation at the Lincoln Park Whole Foods on Ding Ding Let’s Ride, I had to take a trip there myself!

By my count, I find that with 3 wave racks (of 2 sizes) and 3 grill racks, there are 27 bike parking spaces. You can debate me and possibly find 4 more.

Surely you can fit more, just like you can fit 4 bikes on a 2-space Chicago u-rack.However, the racks are installed so closer together to make this area quite a pain to find a space. And if you have a long wheelbase cargo bike (bakfiets, Madsen, or Yuba Mundo), GOOD LUCK!

The only space available for a longtail cargo bike like my Yuba Mundo is in a car parking space next to a hybrid Chevy Tahoe illegally parked in a handicapped parking space.

Photo showing too-close placement of the two kinds of racks. Notice that some bikes hang into the curb – it was the only way to use that bike rack. Other spaces might not have been opened when these people arrived.

But officially, for planning purposes, the Chicago Department of Transportation considers that rack as only fitting 2. This area could easily be sheltered. I think it’s something the store should look into. It provides sheltered car parking, which costs proportionally more than sheltered bike racks!

In the future, I expect better from Whole Foods.

For now, Target takes home the cake for providing consistently “good” bike parking. (Great’s the best a store can achieve.) So far, the rating system isn’t fully formed or automated. It’s a work in progress!

Sidenote: Access to Whole Foods via bicycle really sucks. There’s a 5-way intersection controlled by stop signs; then there’s the old railroad track and potholes. It might be better if you come in from the south, but then you have more RR track to deal with.

Photo montage showing how to access Whole Foods from Sheffield by bicycle.

Finally justice for bike shoppers in Bridgeport

I just got off the phone from a vice president at Dominick’s who personally informed me that the company will be installing a bike rack in the sheltered alcove of their grocery store at 3145 S Ashland, in Bridgeport, Chicago. He was unsure of the bike rack type, but was confident that it was the wave rack type they installed at the Lincoln Square store (I approve).

Bike parking at new, LEED-certified Dominick’s in Lincoln Square, Chicago.

Hard work pays off. I emailed and mailed the CEO of Safeway, Steve Burd*, after my letter to the store’s manager and call to customer service fell on, not dear ears, but unmotivated ones. Read the complete backstory.

He admitted the company failed to install a rack during the 2008-2009 renovation – possibly due to budgetary concerns. Which is really funny because the bike racks I know of cost about $300. And it doesn’t need annual maintenance.

Anyway, he said the installation target date is November 5, 2010!

*Mr. Burd’s email is either [email protected], or [email protected] One of them bounced, and now I can’t recall which.

Trying out new GIS software

I want to draw 50 and 120 feet buffers around the points of store entrances to show where bike parking should and shouldn’t be installed. I want to follow this example:

walgreens with bike parking buffers

Aerial photo of a Tucson, Arizona, Walgreens showing the location of existing bike parking and two buffers (50 and 120 feet) where proposed city rules would allow bike parking. I advocate for ratifying the 50 feet rule, which I’ve discussed on this blog and elsewhere many times.

I want to do this easily and accurately, so I will use GIS software to create a “buffer.” I use QGIS occasionally, but I want to try out other Mac-friendly applications. I’m getting my orthoimagery (geometrically corrected aerial photography) from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) using a web protocol called Web Map Server. I’m trying:

  • Cartographica, $495, with free trial license.
  • uDig, completely free software. UPDATE: I have had NO success getting any data to load from a WMS connection into uDig. I would like to understand why. Cartographica can obtain some of the WMS-stored data I want, although it messes up often.

I’m having success with neither – both are having issues downloading or maintaining a connection to the USGS orthoimagery. In one case, Cartographica trims the Bing Maps imagery to match the extent of my other objects (the buffer). In another case, it won’t even download the USGS imagery (and gives no indication that anything is happening). uDig hasn’t been able to download anything so far – I hope it’s asking for the current extent, instead of all data because it’s taking a looong time to do anything (so long that I just quit in the  middle of it).

This screenshot shows how to add new WMS connections to Cartographica.

UPDATE: I did it! I successfully used Cartographica (and the integrated Bing Maps) to create this drawing that shows the current (abysmal) bike parking at a Chicago Home Depot outside the 50 feet line.

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