Friday, August 3, 2012

Nice Rack

My workplace is friendly to cyclists. They actually encourage commuting by bike in a number ways. A few examples include participating in the federal cycling commuter tax benefit, providing clean locker rooms with showers and free towel service, and by providing ample parking at nice racks installed just outside the main entrance.

Speaking of nice racks...

Anyway, over the years, the committed commuter/cyclists have gone through a number of growing phases. Initially, it was simply exciting to ride your bike to work. Commuting by bike was counter-culturally cool. It was like going under the radar. And in those early days, not too many folks were riding. There was lots of space on the single rack outside.

Later, when the commuter tax benefit kicked in, more folks started riding. Or so it seemed. During the summer months, the number of riders swelled. Space on the rack became sparse. That's when a push was made to install rack #2.  Within a summer, that rack was also over-flowing. A third rack was then installed. Meanwhile, the skeptic in me had long-concluded that most of the bikes belonged to colleagues who parked just outside of the city's metered parking, and then coasted a few blocks on their bikes to avoid paying for parking.

That leads us to the next stage of commuting evolution: contempt. Indeed, I have a healthy contempt for those who take a spot on the bike rack without earning it. Some may say that at least they're getting daily exercise. Bullshit. You don't get squat from coasting twice daily for three minutes.

I suppose it wouldn't be so bad if these fake commuters took a middle spot on the rack. You know, one that's not too presumptuous and stuff. But no, they are flaunting it with their rusty old heaps. They're taking all the good spots, like the end caps that have easy the access. And if they happened to get a crappy bike spot in the morning -- why, they'll snake your good spot while you're out riding over lunch.

I know, boo hoo hoo, it's just bike parking, right? Pfffff. C'mon man, we all learned the same lessons in kindergarten. One of those -- the place back -- is time honored tradition that states that when you leave your spot temporarily, you should expect to resume occupying it when you return, no questions asked. Nope. At my work place, you will be schwinned* when you leave the rack.

*schwinned: transitive verb 1) the act of discovering that while you were out riding your bike more than one mile over the lunch hour, a colleague has moved their POS Schwinn into your coveted end-spot on the bikerack. 2) the negation of the place-back.

The final stage of the commuting evolution is snobbery. I admit it, I've become a snob. I expect things to be in a certain order. And when they're not, I've taken it upon myself to make the necessary adjustments.  Again, take the issue of being schwinned.  To avoid being schwinned, some of us have taken to using a proxy -- or a pit bike -- to stand in our bike's stead while we're away.

typical pit-bike proxy
Snobbery? Yes. Do I care? No. Many times, finding a pit-bike proxy is just a matter of locating and then moving another POS Schwinn that a fake commuter had failed to secure properly. Or, you can do what my good buddy Shim did once: he brought in his own pit-bike in from home to serve as his proxy. It lasted about two weeks before it was stolen. Nice!

And while we're on the subject of snobbery, here's something one shouldn't expect to see at the bike rack: dirty laundry.

Exhibit A: this fella used his handlebars as a clothes rack:

Exhibit B: not to be outdone, here's someone's sweaty chamois.

I mean, in a word: ick.

Whew! It's time for a recap: 1) The work place bike rack should be reserved for those who actually ride their bikes more than a few blocks 2) Place-backs are to be honored. 3) The bike rack is not a place to air your laundry. It's for bikes. And by bikes, I mean bicycles. No motorized vehicles.

So that means one shouldn't expect to see a pink scooter parked at the rack.

There were a couple notes left on the scooter when I arrived. One note said, "this rack is for bicycles -- don't park your scooter here again."

The other one said:

I suppose having a pink scooter motor pace the lunch ride to the taco truck on Vinton Street is a fair trade for a spot at the bike rack.

It sure beats a dirty chamois draped over a POS.


  1. I used to take up one of the tall lockers all day so I could hang my bike clothes. I got a note from someone once saying I was in violation and to kindly to not use up the locker all day. It was signed "The Mgmt". So I went up to The Management and they said, no they didn't write it and it was totally fine with them if I used up a locker all day as long as the clothes were not left overnight. I can't imagine The Mgmt is ok with draping bike shorts over handlebars where they're free to drip onto Wesley's bike.

  2. At least if they were drying clothes it means they rode to work... That said, chamois in man!!

  3. Methinks my brother Brady maybe needs to pause, take a step back, and think, prayerfully think and consider reconsidering his disdainment of the so called Schwinndlers who take his parking spot.

    He sounds like one of the twelve tribes; grousing that his slim peninsula promising a bike locking land of milk and honey is occupied by inferior things that are unfit, unclean. They may as well be shellfish and pork.

    Idea: to rid the rides from your land, send a series of plagues: first let air out of their tires, second, loosen their seats, third undo their quick releases....

    It's good to be a Pharisee!

  4. Steel, great blog. Thoroughly enjoyed your writing style. Here at my lowly workplace, I have one-upped you. I bring my bike inside and park it in an under-used store room. No Schwinnling going on here. Perhaps you need to segregate your three bike rackes into Categories 1, 2, and 3. Category 1 bikes would be for commuters riding from their home to work. Category 2 for those using a combination of city busses and riding. Category 3 for those chintzy coasters. Or separate into bike value! Rack #1 for bikes that are worth more than your car. #2 is for bikes worth less than your car but more than a Target or Kmart bike. #3 for POS bikes.

  5. For the record, Shim was schwinned today.

    Hey Fred, Wesley gave me a fist-bump for the blog post. He especially liked your shout-out in the comments section. Sorry to hear that the fake-mgmt gave you troubles. Apparently, they wanted you to drape your sweaty clothes over Wesley's bike.

    Points noted, Chris. I hadn't considered that I was deriding a true commuter for hanging his dirty inside-out chamois over Wesley's bike.

    Furthermore and henceforth, I shall be sure to turn my tighty-whiteys inside-in before tossing them onto the rack on those days I forgo the bike and run into work instead.

    John: safety is my #1 priority at my work place. I would never let the air out of tires, loosen seats or undo quick releases. Shame on you! You should also know that my bark is worse than my bite. In fact, through prayerful thinking/considering, I much prefer to do unto others

    El Guapo, here's another true story: I once was scolded by the real mgmt for bringing the original Old Yeller inside & to my cubicle. It was back in the day when UP rented space for the IT department in the Brandeis Bldg. Back then, the Brandeis was a dump, prompting me to think how ironic it was that Old Yeller was singled out for making it look trashy. As iffffffffff.

  6. A dead squirrel scraped off a street and placed on the offending scooter's seat will definitely get them to park elsewhere.