While the new U-shaped racks are nice to have on the sidewalk in front of many businesses, the ultimate is to be able to bring your bike inside with you so can keep it safe from the elements and from those who might covet the bike, or certain pieces of it.
So after a quick but distracted bite to eat of Belgium Frites with both eyes out the window at one place's rack, I rode down the bike lane (one of the first in SF--from about 1995!) toward Zeitgeist (199 Valencia Street, at Duboce). I knew bikes can be stored there on wall-mounted hooks festooned all around the outdoor beergarden.
At Zeitgeist, which I would file under "hipster-cyclist mileau," I was met at the door by a bouncer telling me there was no more space in the beer garden for bikes. He was square in form and pretty serious about not letting me through. I've seen more than 50 bikes at Z-geist before, maybe even 100, so this was a shocker.
I carefully pleaded my case, "I won't be able to spend money in your business if you don't let me in with my bike. There's no way I'm leaving this carbon fiber racer out in the street for the junkies to prey upon."
He held his goateed chin and pondered. "Alright, just don't let them know I sent you, because the racks are too full."
Sure enough there was an empty hook along the whitewashed fence in the large backyard for me to hang my front wheel upon, and spend money I did.
Note to other businesses: cyclists will stay longer, buy more, and are more likely to return if you can allow people to bring bikes into a safe place off the streets. Or provide valet parking with a guard, as local bike coalitions do for some events, such as the SF Bike Coalition and Marin County Bicycle Coaltion.
Photo by Tom McClure