The other day, I was running some errands on my bike. On the way home, I realized my fridge was quite lacking in food, and as I had just passed a Taco Bell, I decided to turn back and have a snack, a drink, and a use of their facilities.
I biked into their parking lot, and then all the way around their store, but not a single bike rack was in sight. This doesn't make sense. Like all Taco Bell's, the store isn't that old (really, is there such thing as an old Taco Bell? They all look brand new). The store is in a residential area, not isolated off a highway offramp somewhere. So I think it's reasonable to expect that there is a good amount of people living close enough that biking is an option.
I don't fully understand operating a business, especially a national business that supposedly knows what it's doing, and not make it easy for customers to spend money inside. The business wants money, yes? I have money to spend. Why don't they want my money?
These companies put a whole lot of effort into gathering market data and such to maximize sales. They choose their locations because the data says to pick those locations. Their cookie-cutter stores are planned, supposedly, to make entering the store as easy as possible. Customers are fickle, and a business should want the path between the wallet and the register to be as smooth and easy as possible. Any obstacle, be it a long line, a modestly sized puddle, or a door too difficult to open may result in the customer saying "screw it" and going elsewhere.
In my case, the lack of a bike rack is such an obstacle. If I have no where I can safely lock my bike, then I can't spend money with you.
This barrier is easily solved. We're not talking about thousands of dollars in renovation, paving, permits etc. We're talking about $500 in materials and labor costs, total, to install a couple of bike racks in empty space.
I know this. They should know this. So instead of just making an angry blog post about it, I've decided to make it an experiment.
Instead of just rolling my eyes at their lack of accommodation, I will contact companies like Taco Bell about my poor experience and see if there's any reaction.
If you've ever been to a Taco Bell,, you may remember that every receipt comes with a notice that giving them feedback will enter you into a pool to win some prize. What a nice idea. For Taco Bell, I sent feedback via tellthebell.com as prompted on the receipt, and also their main website. That was on Thursday, we'll see if they ever reply to me, and if they ever get around to installing bike parking.
But it's not just Taco Bell I shall be contacting. Last year, I spoke to a customer service rep inside a Lowe's store about their lack of bike parking. She flat out lied to me (said the city didn't allow bike racks). I didn't press further, but now I will email them as well.
Do I expect anything? Not really. But that's why it's an experiment. To see what steps, if any, these corporations are willing to take to make spending money in their store easier. Again, as far as requests go, it's not exactly a major one. And as yesterday's post shows, these same corporations are more than willing to drop $800,000 on vehicle parking spots that will never be used.
So far, I have contacted:
I will continue to add to the list as I make note of which corporations make shopping with them a hassle.
Oh, in case you were wondering, I did stay at Taco Bell, as I was already there (and really had to pee). But if my request goes unheeded, I see no reason to go back.
"So if you can just bring your bike inside, why whine?" Because there's no assurance that I will be allowed to do this every time. And I can't really see myself walking my bike around a Lowe's.
And also, that's not actually my bike. Mine had a flat, so this was a temporary measure. In case you were wondering, it actually wasn't uncomfortable to ride this bike intended for a younger and shorter audience.