Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => General Discussion => Topic started by: dayjack119 on January 02, 2014, 01:04:02 pm

Title: Safe Places to Park My Gear
Post by: dayjack119 on January 02, 2014, 01:04:02 pm
I recently returned from celebrating my 70th year with a solo 7,000 mile bicycle loop through the eastern USA and Canada.  I had a magnificent trip with only one annoying on-going problem that I would like to share.  When visiting National Park tourist attractions with a fully geared down bike, most places had no place for me to safely stow my rig.
For example, the Fort at St. Augustine, FL where many lower tier rides start and terminate, the policy is for bicycles to park in the parking lot which appeared to me to be an open invitation to thieves.  After spending time talking to the Park Ranger, he looked around for his boss, winked his eye and told me to park it on the side of the ticket station up near the fort which made me feel much better.  I was able to go inside and spend some time checking things out.
The NASA Visitor Center at Titusville, FL was not so friendly.  They wanted me to park in the motorcycle parking lot which was out of sight of the center entrance.  The place is set up like an amusement park and the line of ticket kiosks act as a barrier to anyone sneaking in.  I asked if I might park my bike just inside the center where there was an unused wide open area.  This felt pretty safe to me being inside the gates.  They would not work with me at all on the situation and I had to ride away without being able to visit the museum.  I had gone miles out of my way on dangerous no-shoulder roads to get there and remember well the way I felt.
In Philadelphia, PA I wanted to see the Liberty Bell.  A Park guard stood there at the entrance where there was a long line to get in, but he wouldn't let me park my bike near him even after I explained the value of all the gear and my plight.
This sort of thing happened a lot.  One can lock his bike, but not the gear on board, and I carry lots of stuff.  This year (2014) I am attempting a ride through the Pacific Northwest.  As I plan my trip, I'm going to write to the places of interest and explain my plight.  Maybe I can get some better cooperation that way.
Title: Re: Safe Places to Park My Gear
Post by: DaveB on January 03, 2014, 09:30:29 am
I guess some of the guards have heard the news stories of booby-trapped bikes in the Middle East and worry it could happen here.  I once rode my bike to the main post office to pick up mail at our bike club's PO box and an employee wouldn't let me wheel it inside and that was his excuse.   

I've had good luck at retail stores by parking it in sight of the cashier and asking him/her to watch it for me.  They generally have no problem with this. 
Title: Re: Safe Places to Park My Gear
Post by: dayjack119 on January 03, 2014, 10:11:33 am
Keeping the bike parked within the sight of a clerk or ticket taker was always my goal.  I never had the feeling it was for security reasons that they were saying no.  It was the annoyance of me wanting to stretch the rules.
There was the Greatest Show on Earth circus museum in Baraboo, WI where they sternly asked me to move my bike away from the door.  I was one of the very few customers as the season had just ended.  The officious woman there gave in, only because I told her I had to leave if my equipment would be in an unsafe situation.  But she made sure to let me know that she wasn't one bit happy about it. 
But the most representative instance was at a Dollar Tree store where I wanted to pick up some reading glasses.  The strip mall had a number of thug-type characters hanging around just outside the door.  The building itself had columns out front that were too large to fit my bike lock cable, and there was nothing else out there, not even a trash can.  I looked inside the store and there was a large open space just to the left of the door.  I went in and informed the girl of my plight and asked if I could bring my bike inside.  I told her I would only be in the store a few minutes.  She said she would have to get the asst. manager.  I then explained my situation to that person and he said he was going to have to ask the manager.  When I repeated my story once again to the manager, he would not give me permission to bring the bike inside.  He said there was not enough room.  ...I had to laugh.  I was the only customer and no more in sight.  Many of these situations have to do with who is in charge.  They may be IQ challenged.
Title: Re: Safe Places to Park My Gear
Post by: indyfabz on January 03, 2014, 01:16:32 pm
I don't think IQ has anythng to do with it. Unfortunately, we live in a litigious society. The bike falls over and injures someone or someone trips over it, the business could be sued. The bike falls over and damages some stock or breaks a window is the cyclist going to happily open their wallet right there? By accpeting your bike, a business could be considered a bailee and possibly be held responsible if something gets stolen. Then there is the issue of "authority." This summer I asked a grocery store cashier if I could leave my bike inside the store while I shopped. She clearly conveyed the feeling that she could possibly get in trouble if she allowed it and directed me to the manager, who said it was o.k. I would not expect someone in her position to risk disciplinary action on my account. I think some businesses just feel the potential aggrivation is not worth the business. The best asset to have when seeking permission is a good and understanding attitude. I think you are morelikely to be turned down if you approach it with a "You should let me and if you say no you had better have a good reason" attitude.
Title: Re: Safe Places to Park My Gear
Post by: BikeFreak on January 04, 2014, 12:41:14 pm
Summer 2012 somewhere at a Walmart in VA, one of these retired people working at the entrance of the store, asked me if I wanted to bring my bike inside. He did this spontaneously. I was already locking my bike outside, but accepted his offer.

10 years earlier at a gas station in VA I went in to buy a drink and a ice cream. It was so hot that I planned to make a rest OUTSIDE the gas station in the shade. After 10 min the clerk, whatever, told me to leave otherwise he would have to call the police. This is the single bad situation I had so far. I think the problem with leaving a fully packed bike in a public place is, that it resembles loitering, it might look like a bum is hanging around and might scare customers away.