The bicycle parking project

As a regular bicycle commuter in the Scottsbluff-Gering area, I’ve been alternately pleased or dismayed with bicycle parking options at my destinations. Everywhere you go there is ample vehicle parking, but rarely is there a decent place to securely park a bicycle. A lack of basic infrastructure such as parking facilities implies that bicycles are not a welcomed or important mode of transportation – an assumption with which I wholeheartedly disagree!

To recognize businesses and institutions that are doing a good job, to suggest improvements, to encourage other entities to join in, and to show other potential bicyclists where they can park their rides, I’m embarking on this ongoing project to document and critique what’s available. Suggestions, contributions and updates welcomed!

The parking facilities below are listed in alphabetical order by city and are also linked on a Google map.

Added June 6: Here’s a simple design guide for bike parking that provides good suggestions for adding or upgrading bike parking.

Gering

Gering City Hall / Police Department

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This rack, which gets a lot of shade, is located between the Gering City Hall / Police Department building and the Gering Public Library.

Gering Post Office

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It’s a short little wheel-bender rack, but sufficient for a quick trip to the post office.

Gering Public Library

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Fish and seahorse. The Gering Public Library has some of my all-time favorite bike racks – they were made from scrapped bike parts and decorated by local artists. The only quibble would be that cyclists may not know the decorative racks are functional rather than simply decorative.

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Shark!

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Rainbow trout

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Lobster

Heritage Estates

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It’s a tiny, non-secured bike rack that could be picked up and moved, but it was there on a day I needed it.

Legacy of the Plains Museum

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Apologies for the busy picture, but it was a busy day at Legacy of the Plains Museum when this photo was taken. The bike rack is very conveniently located just outside the front door.

Monument Shadows Golf Course

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The bike rack at the Gering golf course is over by the maintenance / golf cart building

Scotts Bluff County Administration Building

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The bike rack at the Scotts Bluff County Administration Building is not functional, except that the end can serve as a U-rack. The height of the bottom of the rack makes it impossible for an adult-size bicycle to rest securely between the uprights. It’s placed on the north side of the building near an employee entrance and is not welcoming or particularly useful. I was only able to lock my bike to it by using the side pole.

Scottsbluff

Bluffs Middle School

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The bike rack on the west side of the southwest corner of Bluffs Middle school is in the blazing sun from noon on.

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Another full-sun bike rack, this one at the entrance on the southeast corner of Bluffs Middle School.

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A third rack at Bluffs Middle School, also at the southeast corner, gets some tree shade in the afternoon.

Downtown Scottsbluff

The decorative bike racks in downtown Scottsbluff are wonderful – they are out in front of businesses and creative to boot! My only quibble is that people may not know the sculptures are bike racks – I once saw a family clogging the sidewalk with their bikes in front of Runza, while the nearby french fry rack was empty.

A note to the users of downtown bike racks:
Cycling on downtown sidewalks is prohibited by ordinance. To use these bike racks, the recommended method is to:
*Arrive on the street downtown via Avenue A or 1st Avenue and turn onto the side street closest to your destination
*Signal to pull over to the curb
*Dismount and walk your bike on the sidewalk to the bike rack

NOTE: THE “FOUNTAIN” RACK AT THE 18TH STREET PLAZA HAS BEEN MISSING SINCE 18TH STREET CLOSED.

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The rack in front of Bluffs Bakery. West side. Closest side street: 16th Street.

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The rack across from the Midwest Theater. West side. Midblock, closest side streets 18th / 17th Streets.

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The rack in front of Cappuccino & Company. This is the rack I most often see in use. East side. Closest side street: 17th Street.

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The rack in front of Western Trail Sports. West side. Cosest side street: 18th Street.

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The french fry rack near Runza. East side. Closest side street: 19th Street.

The Emporium

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I love the front-and-center location of this bike rack, but it’s a bit awkward given the width of the sidewalk. If you don’t angle your bike, you wind up kind of blocking the sidewalk.

First United Methodist Church

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The bike rack at First United Methodist Church is located next to the handicap parking.

Guadalupe Center

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A very freshly placed bike rack.

Lied Scottsbluff Public Library

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The Lied Scottsbluff Public Library bike racks are an A+ in my book. Cute, sturdy, and located right in front of the library near the front doors.

Main Street Market

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Main Street Market moved its bike rack from an awkward parking lot island to a better spot right at the front of the store. Maybe not everyone has seen it yet. (See the bike in the background, far left, parked against the ramp railing.)

Monument Mall – Carmike Theater door

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A good location for a rack outside the mall’s movie theater.

Nutters

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As befits a health food store, there is a bike rack right next to the front door at Nutter’s.

Panhandle Research and Extension Center

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The rack at the UNL Panhandle Research & Extension Center gets points for being under the cover of a stairwell, despite being hidden out of the way near the south entrance to the building rather than the main entrance. Still, this seems geared more towards employees than visitors.

Regional West Medical Center

The only patient bike parking at the hospital complex appears to be near the Medical Plaza North entrance. However, when I had an appointment at Medical Plaza South, the valet offered to keep an eye on my bike if I parked it near his stand. RWMC facility maps do not indicate bicycle parking. (I intend to contact them to request an update.)

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Regional West Medical Center patient bike parking next to the north entrance, at the Birth & Infant Care Center. I wonder about the (abandoned?) bike locks on the rack.

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There is an under-cover bike rack on the north side of the Medical Plaza North building, but since it’s not near a public entrance, I assume this is for staff.

Saint Agnes Catholic Church / School

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This rack is located off an alley between St. Agnes church and school. I’m not sure how useful it is here, as the ground has a significant slope that would make it very easy for a bike to tip over and bend a front wheel in the rack.

Safeway

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The rack at Safeway would get an A+ in my book – it’s under cover and near the front door – except that it’s not bolted down and I’ve witnessed the rack migrating further and further from the door as space is used for retail displays.

Scottsbluff High School / Splash Arena

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The rack outside the entrance to the Splash Arena also serves Scottsbluff High School. The many abandoned locks hanging from the rack look a little sketchy.

Target

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I’m not a fan of the bike parking at Target. The bollard-style bike lockup is sturdy, but it’s hidden on the north side of the building, away from the front doors, and . . . there’s that “no parking” sign – does that apply to bikes, too?? This seems an afterthought for employees and is not welcoming to customers.

Vertex

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A super stealth bike rack hidden next to a fence. I wouldn’t have known it was there had someone not told me to look for it.

Walmart

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Can’t find the bike rack at Walmart? Look behind the trash can, behind the butt bin, hiding around the corner from the door. What an awful location!

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Yes, there are two racks at Walmart, one by each door, by they are not sited well. Despite being near the front doors, they are kind of hidden – not want you want in a bike rack. It’s also absolutely awful to try to ride through the chaotic parking lot.

Watering Hole

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I was surprised and pleased to spot a bike rack at a gas station.

Western Nebraska Community College – Conestoga Hall

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There’s a rack in front of Conestoga Hall. If you’re going to the WNCC multicultural center or Pioneer Hall, there are no bike racks – the Conestoga Hall rack is the closest one. On this day, I saw a bike parked next to a dumpster behind Pioneer Hall.

Western Nebraska Community College – Harms Center

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Another of my favorite bike parking spots in town, at the north entrance to the Harms Center. It’s right by the door, under cover AND not a wheel-bender-type rack.

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There’s also a bike rack by the south entrance to the Harms Center.

Western Nebraska Community College – Main Building

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The all-day full-sun bike rack near WNCC’s main entrance.

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There’s a bike rack at door 14 on the east side of WNCC’s main building. On this day, a bike was parked on the sidewalk nearby, in the shade. A bike seat in full sun gets pretty hot on a 102-degree day!

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There’s a “wave” bike rack outside of door 8 on the west side of WNCC.

Scottsbluff Y

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Unless you’re coming from the river pathway from the west, the Y is hard to bike to, but I’m glad it has a bike rack. Note the curious phenomenon in the background: people think that if you can park a bike there, you can park a motorcycle there, too.

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw, except as noted

In support of the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance

Western Nebraska is not the most bicycle-friendly place I’ve lived, but the times, they are a-changin’.

(In case you don’t want to read to the end, I’ll put the appeal up front, too: donate to the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance bike month campaign.)

The Western Nebraska Bicycling Club came together.

WNBC logoThe Scottbluff YMCA now hosts an annual spring community bike ride and a fall challenge ride.

The City of Scottsbluff is installing artistic bike racks downtown and planning to install 5 miles of new pathway (see black lines on image below) that would include a much-needed bridge over Highway 26.

proposed scottsbluff bike path

The City of Gering has already installed several miles of bike routes, as illustrated with brown lines in this excerpt from the Nebraska Department of Roads’ Nebraska Bicycle Map (I didn’t know this map existed!):

Scottsbluff Gering Terrytown bike mapAlso, one of the decorative recycled-bike-frame bike racks in front of the Gering Public Library is featured on the front cover of the map:

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 9.22.07 AMScottsbluff and Gering planning staffers have been reaching out to the cycling community to work on community bike route mapping. (Insider info: I’m one of the folks involved in this project. Hat tip to the folks at Champaign County Bikes for helping to get us started on the right . . . ahem . . . path.)

Scotts Bluff County, the City of Gering and Legacy of the Plains Museum cooperated with Scotts Bluff National Monument to get Federal Land Access Program grant funding for additional bike pathways connecting the city and Monument.

One a statewide level, Nebraska legislators have introduced (so far unsuccessful) bicycle-related bills on vulnerable road users and passing/sidepaths/crosswalks.

And the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance has recently taken a step forward in its organizational capacity and hired its first executive director, Julie Tuttle Harris (who happens to hail from Scottsbluff).

NBA logoAs Julie pointed out in this interview with the Alliance for Biking and Walking, Nebraska ranks 45th on The League of American Bicyclists’ ranking of state friendliness towards bicycles.

I wondered what the ranking was based upon, so I looked it up. It’s a survey of State Bike Coordinators (the Nebraska Department of Roads has an email address for a Bike Coordinator, but I can’t find an actual person’s name to go along with the title) that measures five topics:

  • Education and Encouragement
  • Infrastructure and Funding
  • Legislation and Enforcement
  • Programs and Policies
  • Evaluation and Planning

Here’s a detailed description of what each of those topics includes. And here’s Nebraska’s report card. There are some great suggestions for improvement on that report card. In order to get them implemented, it’s going to take a concerted effort and support from cyclists across the state.

That’s where the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance comes in. This 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization has the capacity to help improve the cycling climate in Nebraska.

But it’s going to require some of your capacity, too.

One of the ways you can help is by donating to the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance’s “A Dollar A Day During May” fundraising campaign during National Bike Month. Here’s the link to the fundraising campaign. You can donate at two perk levels: $30 for a “Robust Woo Hoo” and $60 for “Robust Woo Hoo + Vigorous Cowbell”.

Wyobraska Tandem recommends going for more cowbell.

I’ll end with an appropriate quote from Julie, from the aforementioned interview:

In Nebraska, we pick ourselves up by our bootstraps, we work really hard and we pride ourselves on that. Being able to get around by bicycle is a very self-reliant value, so to use that concept and tie it back to common themes like health and safety, we know those messages resonate across our whole state, both urban and rural.

Bust out those bootstraps and wallets, folks! Let’s work to boost Nebraska’s standing in the national cycling community!

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw