I submitted the letter about the bike parking issue at Trader Joe’s yesterday. Thank you for all your feedback. While hunting down the proper location to submit the letter (Online feedback form) I ended up speaking with the store manager.
We had a pleasant conversation about bicycle parking and the store’s pumpkin patch.
Here’s what we talked about.
Apparently a lot of people mentioned there needed to be more bicycle parking, which is what prompted them to add an additional bicycle rack at their own expense even though the bicycle parking is the development owner’s responsibility. He was disappointed to learn that the rack they picked doesn’t work for the majority of bikes.
As far as the pumpkin patch goes, he was aware it was an issue and investigated putting it in the parking lot, but was told it would violate the land use code, which requires a certain number of parking spots for cars.
He said when they designed the pumpkin patch this year they tried to make the area work for bicyclists as well. We talked about the new zoning rules that went into effect recently, which allows businesses to use a car parking space for bicycle parking without penalty.
I gave him Tom Thivener, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian program manager’s, phone number. He said he would call him and investigate using a parking space for bicycle parking. The downside is you would lose the shade the current parking area provides. The upside is it would make the bikes more visible and less likely to be messed with.
Lastly, we chatted about the employee’s insinuation that a bicyclist’s money is worth less than a motorist’s. He apologized for the attitude and assured me that he hears the concerns bicyclists have and wants to make it better. He asked for his name, but my goal wasn’t to get anyone in trouble, but rather improve the situation for cyclists.
Overall it was a pleasant conversation. He was appreciative of my being a reasonable person capable of listening to his concerns and challenges.
It does however highlight one very big challenge when trying to improve conditions for bicyclists at businesses.
Often the businesses aren’t the actual owners of the retail centers, which means they often don’t have the authority to improve things.
Some businesses will use this as an excuse to ignore your request. I’ve been told many times they can’t do something because they don’t own the building or the land.
I often argued that even though the retailer may not own the location, most people don’t see the distinction and it reflects poorly on their businesses.
It seems like the land owner is much more likely to respond to the retailer that is paying rent than the customer who doesn’t actually pay the owner at all. I do everything I can to get the retailer on board and have them approach the owner of the building.