Saturday, September 17, 2011

"Bicycle Parking Available Inside"

I drove my car to a new O'Reilly Auto Parts store today (just east of NC 54/55).  Imagine my surprise when I saw this sign on the front of the building.  I find this juxtaposition really wierd.

Irregardless.   It has instantly hooked me as a repeat customer.

2 comments:

skiffrun said...

The $64 question:

Did they really have inside parking? (The answer to that is not entirely clear from the post.)

...M

Jack said...

Hi Andy,

Before you make any casual committments to be a repeat customer, please know that O'Reilly did not do this because they are bike-friendly. They did this because Durham's Unified Development Ordinance requires that new developments support bicyclists and pedestrians and because the Durham Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission's Development Review Committee actively participates in the site plan review process to ensure that they do. In my four years volunteering on that committee, I have reviewed dozens (hundreds?) of site plans to ensure they meet Durham's requirements.

This O'Reilly site is one that I worked on, and the resulting bicycle parking scheme is one they implemented at a store in N Durham, and is one that I do not believe meets the requirements of the UDO. UDO section 10.4.4.c.1 specifies, "Bicycle parking may be located in any parking area or in other locations that are easily accessible and do not impede pedestrian or motorized vehicle movement into or around the site. Designating space for bicycle parking within buildings is a preferred option when feasible." While the indoor bicycle parking at O'Reilly is ideal for long-term parking such as an employee would use, I believe it falls short of the requirement to be "easily accessible" for short-term parking such as customers would use. In order to use this bicycle parking, one needs to roll their bicycle inside, ask for permission to enter the back room (I assume - I mean, I wouldn't typically just walk to the back room of a retail store), then hang their bike on a rack mounted on an interior wall. The act of requesting permission is not a requirement for any other parking at this site, it is unique to bicycle parking. As such, I believe this parking is not "easily accessible."

I proposed adding 1 standard inverted-u rack outdoors for their bicycling customers. They were unable to meet Durham's design standards without converting 1 motor vehicle parking space to a bicycle parking space, and they were unwilling to do that. At that time, the Durham planner assigned to the case allowed the indoor parking against my advice.

Btw, even the sign you noted is required in Durham. UDO section 10.4.4.a.1 specifies, "where bicycle parking facilities are not clearly visible to approaching cyclists, signs shall be posted to direct cyclists to the facilities."

Sorry for going "inside baseball" on this topic. But, since it appeared you were pledging them repeat business out of a sense that they are bike friendly, I wanted to set the record straight.

Your community is bike-friendly, O'Reilly is not.

O'Reilly did the absolute minimum they could get away with. And, when presented with a reasonable and low-cost option that was more appropriate for bicycling customers, they chose to maintain full accomodation for motorists and refused to support bicycling customers. I understand why they made that decision, they sell parts for motor vehicles. But they are missing the point that most cyclists do happen to own, operate and maintain motor vehicles.

That said, I owe it to them and to the community to use this bicycle parking. Durham will likely see proposals like this again, and the community will be better-served if the Development Review Committee has some real world experience with this type of parking. And, I do want to pick up a torque wrench. And, I do pass this O'Reilly on bike to and/or from work most days. So, someday I'll roll my bike in and straight to the back to see how it goes. For their sake, I hope it isn't raining that day.

Take care Andy,
Jack