Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Racks and Hard Places; The Archer Road Tour, Part 1

Stuff happens along Archer Road in Gainesville. Eateries and places to buy things are the basic fiber of the area with Butler Plaza being the center of this retail universe. For many people coming to the area for the first time or just passing through on I-75, Archer Road is Gainesville. Residents of the area live with the dichotomy of feelings generated by what is there and the too-often heavy traffic. Riders are able to skirt and avoid the congestion, but must be perpetually alert for inattentive drivers. It’s just the way it is. Evenings can be especially dangerous as date-night activity can easily supersede driving skill and traffic awareness.

This isn’t about drivers or danger on wheels. It’s about what riders do with their bikes if they want to use the abundance of eateries and places to buy things? As noted in the previous entry, good locks (the HOW) are one part of the security thing. The other part is the WHERE.

Some business owners blame landlords for the lack of bicycle racks. Some claim “rules” prohibiting them. Few deny the need, though it may be nothing more than momentary lip service. Large, old, eccentric Vietnam veterans have a way of sometimes stirring contradictory comments. The cost purchase and install a satisfactory bike rack is less than $500. The actual cost depends upon the rack choice, site, preparation of the site and installation. An in-depth examination of bicycle usage and parking can be seen at

Back to Archer Road, specifically the south side across from sprawling Butler Plaza . . .

We’ll start on the south side of Archer Road, across the street from Butler Plaza near the intersection with I-75 and begin looking at bicycle security accommodations. This is not a scholarly examination. It’s one guy’s perspective and will be far too subjective at times, maybe objective occasionally and probably tainted by some personal bias. The things that matter to me include proximity, accessibility, quality of racks, existence of racks and visibility.

Burger King
As noted previously, the Burger King on NW 16th Avenue has a well placed, sturdy rack. The Archer Road establishment does not. It doesn’t even have a rack. It does have a lamp post. It’s not designed nor designated as a place to fasten a bike, but it works. A U-Lock cannot be used and a chain or cable has to be long enough to encircle the post.

This is one of those places where flyparking is probably ok, mostly because of visibility and proximity. It’s a busy place, the post is at the front door and the area can be seen easily from inside. The Archer Road BK doesn’t score for taking bikes into consideration, but its “facilities” are useable.

Flyparking only at Archer Road Burger King
Burger King, SW Archer Road

Waffle House
Across the street from Burger King is a Waffle House that has neither a rack nor useable flyparking places for securing a bike. As with all Houses you can easily see into the parking lot, so leaning a bike against the building would keep it in sight, but not secured. Lack of a place to secure a bike is disappointing because I like Waffle House. Of course, one could affect the I’m-a-Waffle-House-regular-so-don’t-mess-with-me attitude. The pragmatic side is that Waffle House severs are extremely protective of and loyal to their regular customers. Thus, a regular’s bike might be safer leaning against the wall outside than chained anywhere else. Actually, anyone visiting Waffle House could expect that the servers would be or could be made aware of a bike parked outside.

Lacking Waffle House regular status, bike parking there is less than satisfactory. Visibility is good and the bike could be kept in close proximity, but security would still be limited.

No place to put your bike at Waffle House on Archer Road
Waffle House, SW Archer Road
Kerr's Wing House
No parking at Kerr's Wing House
Kerr's Wing House, Archer Road
Formerly Denny’s, the Wing House is a busy place in its early days of existence. When it was remodeled no provisions were added for bike security. Flyparking is possible, but potentially conflicts with take-out and handicapped patrons. Seating in the open air section would permit easy visibility of a bike fastened to the fencing.

Chaining my bike to the fence would not be a choice I’d be likely to make. Surely there is a wing place offering better bike accommodations
Flyparking possible?
Want to compete with to-go and handicapped parking?

Parking provided at the Pita Pit
Adequate provisions at the Pita Pit
Pita Pit, Mochi, Chipotle, Brass Tap, and whatever else is there
The strip with its back to Archer Road houses several popular eateries. There is one set of bike racks outside Pita Pit that are readily visible from both inside and the open air section. A second rack is behind Brass Tap at the other end of the strip. Patrons of Mochi, Chipotle choosing that smaller, less conspicuous rack would need to feel less secure. It is visible to the parking area, but because of its location near some utility cabinets does not stand-out as does the larger one near Pita Pit.

You’d probably feel pretty secure at Pita Pit. From Chipotle you can see the rack behind Brass Tap, so that might make it ok. There is a railing along the east side of Chipotle, also, where a bike can be secured and viewed while dining. Visibility from any of the other places is lacking. Activity in and around the businesses could lower risk or, unfortunately increase invisibility.

Parking out behind the Tap?
The Brass Tap's parking is out of the way
The Tap's rack is out of the way
Useable by Chipotle, the Tap's rack is out back.
There are a few subjective observations about bike security along Archer Road. Maybe you’ll find ‘em to be useful.

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