With winter comes cold weather, and with cold weather comes challenges for the intrepid winter cyclist. One of the greatest challenges is the simple act of locking and unlocking a bike. When it is very cold, simply taking off mittens to unlock the bike means cold hands before the ride even starts. Glove liners only help so much. In a dream world, there would indoor bike parking everywhere and the locking and unlocking of bikes would take place in the comfort and warmth of the indoors. Until that day however, we winter cyclists will have to make do with what we have.
At City Market I can warm my hands on the heating vents in the front hallway, but my hands still get cold when I go outside to unlock my bike. In the city of Burlington, the vast majority of buildings currently do not provide indoor bike parking, and heating vents are the best we get. Burlington's City Hall, however, is an exception. If you enter the building on the lower level, and head down the hall, the parking is just around the corner - to your left. In addition, there are public bathrooms and a security camera to add an extra sense of security. Most of my business downtown, centers on what I call the "golden triangle" -- City Market where I shop, the YMCA where I workout, and the Fletcher Free Library where I read. Because City Hall is close to that triangle, I am able park there, lock my helmet and pannier to the bike and go about my business. When I'm ready to go home, I get to unlock my bike, load everything up and put my gloves on even before I go outside. Warm hands make for a great ride!
Those of us who ride bikes most of the time forget that free downtown parking is a luxury that few car drivers experience. Riding your bike in downtown Burlington is not all that much fun, so being able to park your bike and then walk around is an ideal situation, even more so when the weather is cold and you can park your bike inside. Walking and bike riding work well together and City Hall is making it easy for me to do both. As an everyday bike rider, my daily routine is dependent on infrastructure. Bike lanes, bike parking, bike paths, and signage all make a huge difference in my ability to use my bike for transportation. So until the day comes where I can park my bike indoors all across town, you can find me walking around with my bike safely parked in City Hall.