A cyclist who commutes to work in Vancouver, Canada, was surprised and angered last week when she found a note from her office building on her bike that threatened its confiscation. Her offense? Parking in the "15-minute-only" bike rack.
"So I got a ticket from #CadillacFairview for parking my bike outside their building/my office," tweeted Molly Millar, who works in the Vancouver Sun & Province Building, also known as Granville Square.
Millar is a fashion editor for Momentum magazine (motto: "smart living by bike"). The property is owned by the Cadillac Fairview Corp., a large real estate company whose website touts its "Green At Work" initiative and its efforts to increase sustainability.
The note on her bike warned that repeat offenses could result in her bike being taken by the company and possible fees, Millar says. She says there were no signs at the rack referring to a time limit.
The episode raised the ire of cycling advocates in Canada and the U.S. as word spread on Twitter. It also sparked debate about how deeply committed cities and businesses are to environmental efforts and to supporting the growth of cycling.
After receiving the notice, Millar emailed Cadillac Fairview to ask that they install bike racks for commuters. She shared part of their response with the site Cyclelicious:
"We do like to encourage cycling to work and our tenants to think about being 'green' ... but we also need to maintain the professional image of the building. We don't want to encourage all day parking of bikes throughout our plaza, which would deter from this [professional image]."
Millar notes that parking a bike isn't like parking a car — and she says there's nothing unprofessional about having a space for bicycles in a large plaza.
"Ridiculous on so many levels. As if a cyclist and a 'professional image' are two mutually exclusive ideas," she tweeted about the company's response.
As Cyclelicious notes, other people who work in the Granville Square building wrote in to say that it offers "long term bike parking" in its garage, along with bike lockers. In their view, the racks' time limit is meant to ensure available space for bike couriers. But as the site notes, that plan doesn't account for visitors or workers who might bike to the office on an irregular basis.
Speaking to the CBC, Millar says, "There's always more that could be done. I just want Vancouver to get to a place where we're accepted."