The Chainlink

There was a recent discussion on business that block bike lanes.  How about one that covers businesses that go out of their way to accommodate cyclists?

 

First up - I'd like to nominate  Delaware Dental at Delaware and State.  They are a very nice husband and wife practice that takes all kinds of insurance.  They're on the third floor, but it is not a problem to take your bike on the elevator.  There's a room within the practice to keep your bike, and no one bats an eye when I show up on two wheels in my bike gear.


Defying all stereotypes, my doc doesn't ride a $13,000 Pinarello.  In fact, he's not a cyclist at all.

So who else wants to recommend a business where you are not treated like a criminal for wanting to bring your ride inside, or like a child molester for wearing bike clothes?

 

 

 

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REI Lincoln Park? Really????  I beg to differ.

 

The store is too crowded/tight IMHO to comfortably bring your bike in even if you can manage to get in through the wonky giNORmous monolithic doors/foyer. There is only 1 (maybe two) bike racks dirctly out front which are WAY too close to the road/auto parking. I've actually had people stepping out of their cars literally tripping over my bike when they got out the passenger side door. While there are many more racks around the corner on Blackhawk they are out of sight and every time I go there it seems there is a stripped bike sitting in them so that doesn't really inspire a lot of confidence in their safety.  

 

The bike mechanics are rude and haughty to a degree that the worst of the LBS's in the area seem like happy hippie communes in comparison.  And they will not let you so much as borrow a wrench or screwdriver for one second even if you have bought some bike gear from them unless you pay a $25 installation fee to have them put your $20 item on for you.  This so unlike the experiences I've had at real LBS's in the chicago area.  While some LBS's may  sometimes snobbily look down on some people  at least they are nowhere near as bad as my experiences with the REI Lincoln Park crew.

 

REI isn't the company they used to be back in the 90's.  Nowadays  they have more in common with Walmart than a community-oriented store IMHO.  About the only time I'll go into the Lincoln Park store these days is if/when they have a "garage sale" or I can't find what I need at Moosejaw or Erehwon first and I need it NOW and can't wait to order something online from Backcountry.com or Geartrade.  

 

While REI does have bikes, gear, parts, and a bike  mechanic on duty I wouldn't exactly automatically call that "bike friendly."

Shawn C. said:

REI in Lincoln Park

I'd be interested to hear what makes them bike-friendly.

Shawn C. said:

REI in Lincoln Park

In the Oak Park area - Forest Park Nat'l Bank doesn't allow peds or cyclists to use the drive-thru, MB Bank fka Corus in River Forest does, Walgreens in River Forest would not allow me to pick up a prescription at the drive-thru, Blue Max Coffee in Forest Park has a great bike rack,  Molly Malones in Forest Park is ok with bringing bikes inside and has a good rack outside...
I've always felt that unless you're in a race, spandex is underwear.  Put some shorts on dammit!

notoriousDUG said:
Restaurants are never the right place for tight fitting spandex...

Jamie Elenbaas said:
Oh, I don't think tight fitting spandex makes me look like a child molester, but I've felt that vibe from people in restaurants on occasion.
James - your experience with REI sounds less than ideal, but my personal experience has been the opposite. Besides allowing you to bring your bike in the store, they actively promote cycling as an alternative to driving, they encourage their employees to commute by bicycle, their  community room is free to use by cycling organizations, they hold classes on bike safety and maintenance (free), they sponsor local cycling events, etc...  

James Baum said:

REI Lincoln Park? Really????  I beg to differ.

 

The store is too crowded/tight IMHO to comfortably bring your bike in even if you can manage to get in through the wonky giNORmous monolithic doors/foyer. There is only 1 (maybe two) bike racks dirctly out front which are WAY too close to the road/auto parking. I've actually had people stepping out of their cars literally tripping over my bike when they got out the passenger side door. While there are many more racks around the corner on Blackhawk they are out of sight and every time I go there it seems there is a stripped bike sitting in them so that doesn't really inspire a lot of confidence in their safety.  

 

The bike mechanics are rude and haughty to a degree that the worst of the LBS's in the area seem like happy hippie communes in comparison.  And they will not let you so much as borrow a wrench or screwdriver for one second even if you have bought some bike gear from them unless you pay a $25 installation fee to have them put your $20 item on for you.  This so unlike the experiences I've had at real LBS's in the chicago area.  While some LBS's may  sometimes snobbily look down on some people  at least they are nowhere near as bad as my experiences with the REI Lincoln Park crew.

 

REI isn't the company they used to be back in the 90's.  Nowadays  they have more in common with Walmart than a community-oriented store IMHO.  About the only time I'll go into the Lincoln Park store these days is if/when they have a "garage sale" or I can't find what I need at Moosejaw or Erehwon first and I need it NOW and can't wait to order something online from Backcountry.com or Geartrade.  

 

While REI does have bikes, gear, parts, and a bike  mechanic on duty I wouldn't exactly automatically call that "bike friendly."

Shawn C. said:

REI in Lincoln Park

I also have had nothing but great experiences at REI.  I think they have ample parking on two sides of their store and can walk my bike around not only in their bike section but all over the store. Their salespeople are friendly and knowledgeable.  If something I buy there brakes, I can bring it back and they will replace it.  Their clothing and bike gear, especially for spring/winter/fall , is nothing short of superb, IMHO.

Shawn C. said:
James - your experience with REI sounds less than ideal, but my personal experience has been the opposite. Besides allowing you to bring your bike in the store, they actively promote cycling as an alternative to driving, they encourage their employees to commute by bicycle, their  community room is free to use by cycling organizations, they hold classes on bike safety and maintenance (free), they sponsor local cycling events, etc...  


That may be so but REI has been annoying me for quite a while.  Last spring when that particular incident happened it pretty much put me over the top.  I just got my yearly dividend email from REI a few minutes ago (OMG timely) and I have to laugh because it was only for $10.24!  HAHA.  Used to be it would always be in the hundreds of dollars but I've pretty much sworn of REI now except for the Garage Sales.   This year was pretty heavy gear-buying year what with the monthlong backpacking trip to Peru culminating with the Inca Trail my wife and I took for our honeymoon all last October.   I probably dropped about $6k in gear between that and the rest of the goodies I can't help but buy for hiking/backpacking/bicycling/camping.  I'm a gear nut.  REI lost out a one-time regular customer. 

 

When I complained to corporate I sent a long letter explaining why I was angry but because i was using chrome and not familiar with it I thought maybe the form submit was messed up so I sent another email to customer support.  I got a nice personalized-looking reply from each one as the first one did go through.  Both were signed by different customer reps.  Funny thing though, as well-written and "personalized" as it felt apologizing for my bad experience, each one was identical except for the different name signed at the bottom.

 

Form letter...

 

Feh -REI.

Shawn C. said:

James - your experience with REI sounds less than ideal, but my personal experience has been the opposite. Besides allowing you to bring your bike in the store, they actively promote cycling as an alternative to driving, they encourage their employees to commute by bicycle, their  community room is free to use by cycling organizations, they hold classes on bike safety and maintenance (free), they sponsor local cycling events, etc...  


The Green Grocer on Grand has invited me to bring in my bike.

 

North Community Bank has been friendly with me leaving my bike in their foyer and riding up to the drive-through at a few different locations

What do you do when you want to go upstairs?  Bring it up the elevator? Leave it at the bike counter?

 

I wonder because it is even more cramped up there than it is on the ground floor.  I can see wheeling the bike around downstairs but upstairs seems like it would be really tight unless you were riding a 20" bike.  Your bike is fairly small, but not as small as a Twenty.  And my bike is probably longer than most with its MTB heritage and longer wheelbase.  I sometimes don't feel comfortable wheeling a full-sized bike around inside a cramped store.  I feel like a bull in a china shop.

 

While I respect the different opinions about this particular REI's bike-friendliness it also shocks me a little bit that people seem to have such good experiences with businesses that allow people to bring bikes in.  I've had bad experiences just about every time I've tried it anywhere other than an LBS and have pretty much avoided doing it unless there are no good alternatives.  Nobody likes getting yelled at or the stink-eye.  I do bring my bike into Erehwon off of North and Sheffield and lock it downstairs to the railing of the steps being careful not to block access to the elevator and they've never said a word about it.  That mini-mall has poor bike parking options outside so I decided to risk it once and have been doing it ever since.

 

I'd like to maybe try bringing by bike into REI Lincoln Square again someday when I'm in the area and seeing if they treat me as positively with my bike that everyone else reports getting treated.  Perhaps the difference is the Mary Poppins effect?    Maybe scary-looking dorky guys probably don't get the smiles that an attractive woman gets and can't get away with bringing a bike inside as easily?


Julie Hochstadter said:

I also have had nothing but great experiences at REI.  I think they have ample parking on two sides of their store and can walk my bike around not only in their bike section but all over the store. Their salespeople are friendly and knowledgeable.  If something I buy there brakes, I can bring it back and they will replace it.  Their clothing and bike gear, especially for spring/winter/fall , is nothing short of superb, IMHO.


The Handlebar is an obvious one. They've got a couple pipes mounted to the front of the building to lock up several bikes, while the back beer garden has parking for another 10 to 15 bikes. And just inside the back door is a bike pump, and often a bottle of chain lube.
Home Depot at both S. Clinton and N. Halsted locations also reacted on my walking my bike into the store as it's something that happens regularly.

H3N3 said:

Home Depot at 28th/Cicero let me wheel my trailers around inside the store without a hassle.  Can't say the same for Menard's at 23rd and Cicero.

Of course, but, in this case, being un-friendly for bikers would be detrimental for the REI's bike shop.

Shawn C. said:

REI in Lincoln Park

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