My life would be so much better if ___________.
Fill in the blank.
I’d fill it in this way: “… my apartment building had ground-level bike parking.”
Often, people express incredulity or admiration when I tell them how I bike a lot of places and walk or bus most other trips. They say biking is tiring, and they’re lazy, and they have a lot of stuff to carry around. I’ve said all the same things, but the truth of the matter is all of those things are totally endurable.
The real challenge to utilitarian cycling is carrying your steed up three flights of stairs at the end of the day.
If you’re a car-driver, you’ve probably griped under the weight of work supplies, groceries, and other items you’re carting around with you for one reason or another. Now, imagine, after you drop your armload on the table, fling your purse on the counter, and hang your keys on the hook: You have to make a second trip to lug up your bike.
Kind of makes you want to throw a tantrum, doesn’t it?
Sure, there are bike racks outside my building, but given that there are at least two stripped frames hanging from them, I have reason to doubt their ability to protect my primary mode of transportation. Also, continual exposure to the elements doesn’t do good things to your chain ring.
Designating a bike room is really a small thing that apartment managers could do to make my life a whole lot better.
When I worked for the Jane Goodall Institute, our offices were located in The Nature Conservancy Worldwide Office building in Arlington, Virg., which had a secure bike room, located through a combination-locked door just inside the parking garage.
The room was just simple concrete with a few rows of racks for lock-up, but it improved my quality of life in a big way.
If I’d had to take my bike up in the crowded elevator, maneuver it through the office, and store it in my cubicle, my motivation to ride to work each day would’ve taken a big hit. Worse still would’ve been if I’d had to lock it up on the street all day and spend a lot of time and energy worrying about whether it would be stolen or vandalized.
Instead, I wheeled my bike in, locked it up, and didn’t think about it again until closing time.
I’ve pined in writing about a bike room for my apartment before, so I suppose I should stop whining and start trying to make my wish come true. I could do a little investigation about vacant units and other unused spaces in my building. Then, I could email my property managers and propose a solution. I could follow it up with a visit to the leasing office and discuss alternative options for bike storage. If needed, I could talk to my neighbors and rally forces to petition the property managers for a bike room—but I’ll start all that tomorrow.
Today, after hauling myself, my belongings, and my bike up to the third floor, I only have energy to fill in the blank.