“I am, …officially on strike as your customer.”
This story comes to you from the top of Liberty Ave., in Bloomfield — Pittsburgh’s little Italy.
Many of us are familiar with the ShurSave Grocery Store on the corner of Liberty ave and Main Street. The store is a cornerstone of the neighborhood; providing residents an essential location to conveniently access food and other household amenities. ShurSave is among the top reasons why Bloomfield is one of Pittsburgh’s most walkable neighborhoods. Walk Score, a data site that scores neighborhoods a based on their walkability, gives Bloomfield an 88 out of 100. ShurSave’s front yard is even the site of the city’s first green-painted bike lanes.
However, despite all the people who access the store by foot and by bike, ShurSave visitors may have noticed that there isn’t a single bike rack on site. The absence of bike parking left many-a-shopper feeling frustrated and illegitimate.
So, on the 4th of July, a ShurSave customer decided to write a letter, cc’ing BikePGH and Richard Meritzer, ADA Coordinator in the City of Pittsburgh’s Planning Department:
To Whom It May Concern:
ShurSave, I love you, but you’re bringing me down. Actually you have brought me down–down to my knees, down to my nuclear option: I am, on this fourth of July, declaring my independence from ShurSave and am officially on strike as your customer.
Why am I on strike? Parking. No: Not for an automobile — you could host a Hell’s Angels convention in that lot — but there is not a decent place to lock one measly bicycle. I do my grocery shopping by bicycle probably seven months out of the year and it’s a total bummer that I have to lock it to literally the only thing available – the one section of closed cart gate still remaining.
So I am taking my business to any of the other local groceries that have made the minimal effort to install a bike rack: Shadyside Giant Eagle, and now Aldi and Bottom Dollar, not the mention the entire Strip District! Heck, I’ll even crawl to Kuhns if that’s what it takes! (Please don’t make me do that.) As soon as I see a bicycle rack at ShurSave… I shall return as your customer.
Whoa. Quite a letter.
When I received a copy at the BikePGH office, I loved it, what a surprising display of citizen advocacy! I immediately called over to ShurSave. They confirmed that they’d received the letter as well, and that they’d already purchased two bike racks that they were to be shipped by the end of the week. I’ve seen bike parking installations go horribly wrong, rendering brand new parking facilities near useless, so I offered to come by and help with some of the considerations that go into good bike parking.
I met with Pam, the General Manager, and they already had it all figured out. They knew exactly where to put it, and how much space to leave the bikes. Pam was a bit annoyed at the letter, saying that all he had to do was ask Customer Service. She said that ShurSave appreciates their customers and does anything within their means to accommodate them, especially if those accommodations help get more customers – regardless of their transportation – through their door.
Two weeks later, a picture gets posted to Instagram:
So I went out to snap a few more pictures.
Perfect. Room for 4 bikes, plenty of distance from the wall, enough lateral space between the racks, solid concrete foot, close enough to the door, they even covered the bolts with epoxy to fend off scrappers. ShurSave’s new bike parking gets a solid “A-“ for a short-term parking facility.
I find ‘The Story of the ShurSave Bike Rack’ is a beautiful little anecdote; a problem, an advocate, a tactic, a win. Will’s ‘campaign’ may have been short, and his tactic may have been somewhat silly, but it was effective. Today there is proper bike parking at the Bloomfield ShurSave, and no matter how small the change, it will affect people’s lives. It legitimizes riding bikes for transportation. It encourages people to get active and healthy. It might even cause drivers to look at bikes and their riders as a more mainstreamed consideration on the road.
All because one person wrote a letter.
Next time you’re in Bloomfield, stop in at the ShurSave, use the bike racks, think about this story, and consider how you’re going to make your city a better place.
– Dan Yablonsky, Business Programs Assistant
Make your streets and neighborhoods safer for biking and walking.
1. Become a BikePGH Member – there’s power in numbers
3. Write a letter to your elected officials and say bike/ped funding is important to you!