Whole Foods: No Welcome Mat for Cyclists

Whole Foods garageWe dropped by our local Whole Foods store on Crescent Drive, today, right in the heart of bikable Beverly Hills. Crescent is a candidate for bike improvements, so why not make a grocery run on our trusty Trek? Surely Whole Foods recognizes the value of sustainable, active transportation. But you wouldn’t know it from their chronically-dysfunctional garage and second-class accommodations for cyclists.

What could be finer than an autumn trip to the local market by bike to pick up some late-season heirloom tomatoes and a head of buttery butter lettuce. And why take the car when Whole Foods is right there in the center town? In fact you’d have to be mad to drive, because anywhere near the end of the day their garage is a traffic-choked, fumes-suffused nightmare game of musical chairs. Too many motorists chasing too few spots. It’s a wonder it was ever permitted.

Of course, with the right mix of modes, their garage could offer plenty of parking and space a few spots for quality bike racks. Not so for the Beverly Hills Whole Foods, where there was not a rack in sight.

Making do with a provisional bike rackWhat could we do but to chain up to one of the few metal uprights we could find? Even if it is a moveable sign. See we weren’t going to be long, and we were already in the garage, so….

But once inside we asked about the store installing a bike rack. (Our customary pitch is usually delivered with helmet-on-head to make the point.)

“We do have a bike rack,” an assistant manager said, pointing to a dirty, poorly-lit  corner of the garage.

Whole Foods bike rackBoy were we surprised to find a rack there. We always thought it was a storage area. Upon further examination, though, we did spy a rack. But it is a junk rack – a ‘wheelbender’ in the parlance – one that makes securing a frame difficult but does readily impart a deviation to one’s rim if you’re not careful. The worst of both worlds!

We’ve seen bad racks before, but this one takes the cake. It says to cyclists that we’re not welcome. Needless to say, spurning would-be cyclists who might choose to ride and thus reduce demand for the store’s very limited parking spots is ridiculous. Each additional cyclist is either a customer that might not have visited or one that would have visited but now opens up a space for an additional motorist.

We thought the situation such a no-brainer that we contacted the marketing director for the store with a proposal: If Whole Foods steps up with a few standard bike racks, decent lighting, and perhaps even a green or blue painted pad, we’d be happy to provide technical assistance on rack selection and installation. We would also highlight the effort as a model project and bring some positive press to the environmentally-conscious chain.

We never heard back! Maybe because the store is without a manager (huh?) or because the marketing director thought rack installation was outside her wheelhouse. C’mon, Whole Foods, get it together! There’s a great opportunity to make this small effort worthwhile in the larger scheme of people-powered mobility.

Crescent Drive looking NorthwestCrescent Drive is lined on one side by small retailers and on the other by apartments. But it’s a cyclist’s nightmare given that three garages in two blocks provide plenty of in-and-out cross-traffic and curbside parking means too much traffic friction (especially near Whole Foods). Despite the small retailers on this stretch (including a hardware store that sells bikes!), however, there’s not a single bike rack on Crescent.

Why doesn’t Whole Foods show some enlightened self-interest here and step up with a bike corral as we two-wheeled customers deserve? That’s something we at Better Bike could get behind, too, as it would represent a baby step toward the kind of integrated bike improvements that will make this store more welcoming, make the entire corridor more hospitable, and make our city more friendly and enjoyable to two-wheeled road users.

2 thoughts on “Whole Foods: No Welcome Mat for Cyclists

  • September 28, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Couldn’t agree more that Whole Foods Beverly Hills does a simply terrible job catering to its bike-based customers. It’s absolutely unacceptable, and corporate must intervene if the local store doesn’t get its act together.

    I wrote about this four months ago, after encountering the sorry scene pictured here: http://www.endinggridlock.org/post/5386221201/bike-parking

  • September 29, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    There is a real opportunity here to talk to local retailers and highlight the need for racks – and as important the city’s responsibility to provide them. Rite Aid was very responsive; in that case, it was the city that drops the ball because there’s nobody to take the call that asks, ‘How can I get a rack?’
    Whole Foods *should* be responsive, and I was surprised that I hadn’t heard back on my query. I guess we’ll kick it upstairs. Thanks for the concurrence!

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