Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bike rack at Trader Joe's in Reston

Cart storage area/bike rack
at Reston Trader Joe's
Even though Reston is a Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community, many of the stores do not have bike parking. Those that do usually have racks that are not recommended by local standards.

Yesterday we were at the local Trader Joe's food store located just north of the Reston Town Center. The store has what is called a "grill" rack or a "schoolyard" rack. It's the kind of rack that isn't recommended by proposed Fairfax bike parking guidelines. Many people park the front wheel in the rack and lock the wheel; which makes it easy to steal the rest of the bike by removing the front wheel. We usually use the end of the rack where we can use a U-lock to lock the bike frame to the rack.

At Trader Joe's the bike rack is used for storing their shopping carts with baby seats as you can see from the photo. We've complained nearly every time we've been to the store. Once again I complained to the manager. He looked up, nodded, and said "OK." I could tell he was basically ignoring me so I asked for his card. He handed me a blank store card. I asked for his name. He gave me his first name. I asked for his last name. Only then did he actually engage me in conversation.

U racks at Reston community garden
He said "we don't have much of a bicycling population here." I told him that the carts stored in the racks didn't help. He said why not just move the cart and park your bike, that's what one of his employees does who occasionally bikes to the store. My wife once tried that only to find a cart wedged in next to her bike when she returned.

FABB has been advocating for bike standards in Fairfax since 2007. We're told the standards have finally been completed and will be sent to the Board this spring. They are desperately needed. Even though the county is trying to apply the proposed standards, they are not official and there is no Fairfax reference to point to when we ask someone for a rack. We usually refer to Arlington's standards.

We plan to contact the national Trader Joe's office to complain about the bike parking at the local store.

Speaking of bike racks, we were pleased to see new U-racks at the local community garden. Reston Association has been installing U-racks at many of their properties. The installations are not always perfect but they are using the right type of rack and are being proactive in providing the parking.

The standard rack is an inverted U-rack that allows two contact points on the bike. There should be plenty of side and rear clearance. They should be placed near an entrance, not tucked away on an upper level of a parking garage. A bike with panniers can easily be parked at a U-rack using a U-lock.

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I have had this very same conversation with the manager(s) of the Giant in Vienna many times. They "park" shopping carts and bread racks by the bike rack.
I have complained at the Reston Trader Joes, too! They had two employees' bikes parked there as well. They don't really care, apparently.
Local harris teeter has the large u-shaped racks. Use them frequently, and never a problem. Where I work, I lock to a medium sized tree trunk. the bike rack there is a small half circle bolted to the grass.
Good luck securing your bike at Fairfax Town Center. I went to Bed, bath, and Beyond there and had to secure it to a "No Parking" sign. If someone wanted they could have lifted it over the top of that. I then went to Jo-Ann's Fabrics and had to secure it to a trash can. Cyclists get no respect and are treated like second class citizens. We have just as much money (and in some cases more!) than people who drive to your stores!
Same issue in PW County. Businesses just don't get the fact that if you install bike racks you will have people using them, and spending more money at their locations. We have three shopping centers along Linton Hall Rd. (adjacent to a very nice multi-use asphalt trail) in Bristow and none of the centers have a bike rack that I have found. The Safeway manager just looked at me funny when I asked him to look into installing a bike rack. Kudos to the Walgreen's (not in one of the shopping centers) on Linton Hall Rd. that installed space for 4 bikes.
To heck with the "grill" racks! I'd just as soon they blocked them so I'm not hassled about using some other solid place to lock my bike. I'm still sore from the time my bike fell over in a grill rack and ruined a $100 wheel.

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