Some Ordeals in Parking the Metal Horse

July 7, 2008 at 7:16 pm Leave a comment

I tend to patronize businesses that have bike racks, both for obvious logistical reasons and because I figure it says something good about the ownership’s consideration. Of course, at some locations, during peak riding hours, even very ample bike racks aren’t quite sufficient, and I have to squeeze my bike onto an already used rack space and hope the owners of the other over-crowded parked bikes will be understanding. The MacArthur BART station is a prime example of a location that offers abundant bike parking space, yet, if I don’t arrive early enough–7:30 or so–finding a space to park can prove well nigh impossible.

But this is to be expected at a heavily used transit station that serves as a prime transfer point. The parking at MacArthur is far better than that at many other BART terminals–including 19th St. station, from which a bike of mine was stolen–and it is infinitely better than that of many businesses. Too often, I’ve had to lock my bike up against a street sign or light post. I’ve often wondered if this is legal, though it seems to be common, and I’ve never seen anyone harassed for doing this.

Although this is easy enough in some spots, it can sometimes require much competition for street signs. In other cases, I can find only poles beyond a certain circumference that preclude narrow kryptonite locks. This occasionally entails an awkward amount of aimless traipsing up and down streets in search of bike parking when all I want to do is buy a sandwich or a damn bottle of water! I don’t doubt that bike racks are expensive on top of rent that is already outrageous, but it still seems very sensible for business on streets that have considerable bike traffic.

In rare instances, I find bike racks that are more trouble than they’re worth and opt instead for other poles. I used to stop at the Pacific East Mall in Richmond periodically for a puff pastry from Sheng Kee Bakery–that is, until someone locked a clamp to my bike. They have these very awkward, low-to-the-ground racks with mesh canisters attached (to which I have yet to figure out a use) that require rigging locks through a tiny hole. If I’m lucky enough to get my bike to stand upright against one, I’m much luckier still if I’m able to get the bike locked properly.

In lieu of this, I chose instead to lock the bike against a banister by the stairway. Now mind you, I took care not to obstruct the way for those using the entrance. Nevertheless, I returned to a bike that was doubly locked, and I didn’t have the key for one of the locks. I went to the security office in a bit of a huff. I was already a bit grumpy that evening, having sought out the bakery as a treat for myself after a rough day. I probably came across as more confrontational than I typically am, as the security manager seemed overly apologetic and promptly unlocked the bike. Still, in spite of his good nature, I was soured on the idea of returning there because of this.

I’m not one to complain often. I can usually be pretty resourceful and have enough will to figure something out in times of crisis. In the whole scheme of things, this is small beans. Still and all, it’s been an ongoing issue for me and my bike.


Entry filed under: Bay Area. Tags: , , , , , , .

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