Ask an Expert: Bikes in Shops & Dry Cleaning

What’s the etiquette when shopping at a bike shop or sporting goods store like REI? Can you bring your bikes into the store? Or be prepared to lock it up outside? – John T

Some stores welcome bikes inside, others would like you to lock up outside. In general, bike shops welcome bikes inside their stores. Some will provide an indoor rack, others are perfectly fine with you leaning it wherever you can. All of the bike shops participating in Bike to Shop Day allow you to bring your bike inside: Mike’s Bikes, REI, Cognition (photo below), iMiNUSD, Palo Alto Bicycles, A Street Bike Named Desire. So do sporting good stores Patagonia and On Your Mark.

Other stores vary by owner or manager, often depending on the size of the store and whether there’s a rack outside. Grocery stores often permit it, restaurants rarely do. Folding bikes are more likely to be permitted. One way to know is to ask the workers where the bike parking is. If they’re OK with you bringing it inside, they’ll say so. But if the shop is small or busy, it’s better if you lock up outside if possible. I recommend buying a small lock that fits in a seat pack along with your spare tube just for impromptu shopping trips where you need to lock up.

Bike Parking Inside

How do you pick up dry cleaning on your bike? – Stephen S

I have taken home dry cleaning on my bike, much to the surprise of the owner of the dry cleaners. The secret is to treat the dry cleaning bag like a garment bag, fold it over a rear rack, and hold it in place with bungee cords.

First, tie a knot at the bottom of the dry cleaning bag. Then lay the bag over the bike rack so the middle of the bag is centered on top of the rack with the knotted end and the coat hanger end draped down. Bungee the bag across the top of the rack longitudinally. That’s usually enough to hold it in place, but you can also use mini bungees to attach the coat hanger end and the knotted ends of the bag to the bottom of the rear rack.

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