Bike Parking Hall of Shame: The Clybourn Galleria & Trader Joe’s

Yes, it’s Friday and time for another example of less than stellar bike parking in Chicago. Before you tell me that Trader Joe’s does have bike parking at it’s Clybourn store, I will say yes, they do, and it’s even inside. Trader Joe’s does deserve recognition for attempting to provide cyclists with a sheltered place to lock up their bikes.  Unfortunately, it’s not marked at all, and the racks are the dreaded grill racks, and they’re squished behind a bunch of cement pylons, right at a turn in the parking garage – both awkward and dangerous.

When I got to the entrance of the Clybourn Galleria the other night, where Trader Joe’s is located, I stopped and looked around for a parking spot for my bike. Trader Joe’s is only one store within this rather cool, former furniture factory building that now hosts two grocery stores and a parking garage among other things.

Clybourn Galleria

I saw one lone city-installed bike rack out in front of the entire length of the building. (One? Really Galleria folks? )

Clybourn Galleria Bike Rack

I recalled seeing an entrance to a parking garage along Marcy Street which runs behind the building, so I walked my bike back there. I didn’t see any bike racks, which was OK — that would not be a good location for them anyway — and no indication that there was bike parking within the garage.  No signs, no sidewalks or path for bikes , or any entrance other than those that are sized and situated for cars. The parking garage entrance for Aldi sloops down at a dramatic angle into a closed garage door.

Clybourn Galleria - Aldi and Crate & Barrel Parking Entrance

Clybourn Galleria – Aldi and Crate & Barrel Parking Entrance

Clybourn Galleria - Trader Joe's Parking Entrance

Clybourn Galleria – Trader Joe’s Parking Entrance

So, I walked my bike around front and locked it up to the lone U-rack with the other bike. Then I headed up the elevator. When I exited the elevator on the 2nd floor,  I was in the parking garage! At first I though I was on the wrong floor, but on the other side of the garage was the entrance to Trader Joe’s.  I had to walk across the parking garage, and across a lane of traffic mind you, to get there. And next to the entrance was a bike rack!

Entrance to Trader Joe's (Clayton Chung)

Entrance to Trader Joe’s – this picture was taken by Clayton Chung (courtesy of Flickr) before the bike racks were installed to the right of the shopping carts.

I looked around for some sort of signage that might point out a bike entrance, but saw none. Then I decided to head back out and grab my bike and bring it up the front elevator I had just come up on. It was a large elevator so I thought Oma might fit, and I couldn’t figure out how else the other cyclists got their bikes up there. Walking my bike up the parking garage car ramp didn’t seem like a smart option.

Clybourn Galleria - Trader Joe's Bike Parking

A well-lit, warm parking spot for your bike is a happy find on a cold night, but I still had to dodge turning cars.  And as you can see, the racks are the poorly designed grill racks – meaning that everyone has to lift their bike up over the top,  or in the case of a big Dutch bike, hope to snag an end. Adding even more challenges to locking up your bike in this location are those cement pylons you have to navigate around. Also, this particular rack was located too close to the rear wall – I could barely get my bike in there.

Oma locked up in front of Trader Joe's in Lincoln Park

When it came time to leave, I had to unlock my bike first, and move it in front of the rack (and close to traffic) to load it up. Then I walked it back over to the elevator and out we went.  I met a nice couple on the elevator who kindly took a picture of me , all wrapped up and ready to go.

Ms Ding and Oma on the elevator

It’s not like Trader Joe’s as a company isn’t familiar with good bike parking practices. Just look at the bike racks they installed this summer at a store on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles after a little prodding from the Sustainable Streets organizations. And another Los Angeles-area Trader Joe’s – in Silver Lake – gained bike racks and landscaping this past summer after prodding from residents. According to that article, they have develped a company-wide policy on bike parking. I wonder about that.  All I’m asking for in this location though, is the following:

  • Add some signage outside the store/building on Clybourn indicating that there is bike-parking inside the parking garage, with signs pointing to the best way to access it. The elevator perhaps?
  • Install some U-rack bike racks in the garage per the Chicago Municipal Code, preferably near the elevator so one does not have to cross car traffic

Check out the links on my Bike Parking Hall of Shame landing page for more information on Chicago’s laws regarding bike parking, as well as best practices in bike parking.

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