Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Here's Where You Can Park Your Afterthought

I came home last night to a sign on the bike room door in my apartment building. Due to construction in the parking garage (they're digging it up and putting another apartment building on top) everyone with a bike in the bike room has to move it in the next two days. They're asking us to put them in our storage lockers (each apartment comes with a 4'X8' locker in the basement).

The bike room. Not great, but not awful.
I get that this building is so old that a bike room naturally wasn't in the original plans (bikes? as transportation? in Greber-Plan-era Ottawa?), but the underlying assumption that a bike is a recreational afterthought is so built in that I keep butting my head against it. Right now the bike room I'm using is a plywood structure built over a block of three parking spaces in a corner of the garage. It doesn't have any racks, and bikes without kickstands are leaned up higgledy-piggledy wherever they fit. At the back of the room, stacks of dust-covered bikes that haven't been moved in over a year; near the door, we few regular riders jockey for position and try to avoid getting on each other's nerves.

The first "bike room." At least there were racks?
It's not perfect, but it was an improvement over what I was offered as a "bike room" when I first moved in this winter, which was a 6x10' or so concrete room in a storage locker area, which I discovered unpleasantly was locked between 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. (or whenever staff got around to locking the door). The other, larger bike room was for another building in the complex, and I couldn't get into it with my building key.

I objected, telling the landlord my bike was my main mode of transportation and it was unacceptable not to have 24-hour access to it. To their credit, the landlord sent me a key right away for the other building and said I could park in their bike room. Which was fine. I did that, and despite having to jostle with the other users it worked out. I keep two of my bikes, my repair stand, and my tools in the storage locker, and the bike I'm riding most in the bike room.

But now, that bike room is getting wiped out, and the few dozen bikes (at a guess) that are in there are going to have to go somewhere else. And the landlord suggests our lockers. They'll be leaving the locker areas open 24/7 now, because there are more security cameras, so we'll still have access to the bikes. But I still have concerns.

I'm going to guess that most of the people who have bikes in that room also store stuff in their lockers. Like, a lot of stuff, and probably too much to make it easy to get a bike in there. I planned on having my locker just be a space for extra bikes and bike gear: but lots of other people put extra possessions, bulky camping gear, spare mattresses, Christmas decorations, what have you, in a storage locker. Lockers in apartment buildings are like garages in private homes. Lots of people fill them up pretty easily.

Also, one of the bikes in the bike room is a large adult trike, and I don't think it would even fit in a locker.

And then there's accessing the lockers. Getting to mine you have to get through two large heavy doors from the garage, down a narrow hall, turn right, then right again, then left, then left again, and down to the end of the row. Then unlock the locker, wrangle the bike in, lock the locker, and head back out. Sure, it's not impossible. But it's a pain in the ass.

I want to know if this is a permanent situation: will we have parking space in the new garage? Are we just being asked to move permanently to the lockers? Has anyone even given it any thought? 

And seeing as the landlord is ripping up the whole back lawn to put in surface parking for the cars that have to move, I feel like some parking accommodation could have been thought of for bikes. A shed in the back yard, maybe? Since all we need is the space of about three parking spots, something in the large, unused, paved court next to the gym and pool building?

Like literally any of these places that are used for nothing else?
So now I get to be annoying to my landlord again, because once again they thought, at the last minute, "oh, shit, there are bikes" instead of recognizing biking as A Thing That Legitimately Exists.