Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bicycle or Spaceship Part II

WARNING - Don’t park your spaceship in front of the Glastonbury Hilton Garden Inn. It may be removed from the premises by authorities for scientific investigation of alternative transportation.

I was having a grand time on the second day of an offsite work meeting being held in the Gideon Welles room at the Glastonbury Hilton. I didn’t see any spaceship parking and therefore unobtrusively parked fifty feet away from the entrance and locked to a signpost just off the sidewalk. A co-worker came into the meeting after lunch and in walking past my bike had found a terse missive taped to the jump seat. He had courteously plucked off the note and let the front desk clerk know that the spaceship parked in front of the hotel belonged to me, a hotel patron, and that I wouldn’t appreciate coming out to find my means of transportation missing.

Upon leaving the meeting I asked at the front desk, “Do you have any acceptable bike parking?” I was assisted by the head of maintenance who showed me a cozy spot at the base of an inside stairwell that would be hidden from aesthetically sensitive Hilton patrons. The suggested parking location was fine with me, but I was still a bit steamed that my property was threatened with destruction (cut lock) and confiscation because the general manager of the Glastonbury Hilton found a locked bicycle to be offensive to the Hilton brand image. Hilton’s anti-bike commuter policy reinforces the cultural norm of car centric transportation. If a supposedly “green” business doesn’t have designated bike parking, at least have enough sense not to hassle me about my choice of parking spot.

I wanted to point out that several of the upscale hotels in Champaign-Urbana with professional meeting facilities have significant designated bicycle parking. Champaign-Urbana has a remarkably high bicycle and pedestrian mode share and it keeps getting higher. Support from local businesses like convenient bike parking and the support of bicycle lanes in business districts makes a huge difference. Bicycle parking accommodations are inexpensive and can usually be installed in locations that are both convenient for cyclists and unobtrusive for business patrons. Bicycle commuters are loyal to local proprietors due to their limited range. I would consider the Glastonbury Hilton for future offsite work meetings due to its proximity to Pratt & Whitney headquarters (and my home) in East Hartford, but now I’ll think twice due to the veiled anti-bike sentiment and lack of bike parking.

To add insult to injury, I noticed on the third day of the offsite meeting that a patron of the hotel had parked their private helicopter in the Hilton’s front lawn. Seriously. I park my bike and get a nasty note. They muck up the lawn with a helicopter and get a free pass. Oh well, I guess I can take solace in the fact that the helicopter was probably only getting 2-3 mpg.

On a brighter note, while looking for bicycle parking at Hartford’s Union Station, I found this article on convenient places to park your bike in Hartford, Parking Bikes and Butts. The article linked to a map of bike parking in Hartford and turned me on to some excellent reading material. I’ll be taking my first long distance train trip and can’t wait. Yeah for bikes! Yeah for trains!


Anonymous said...

Oddly enough the LAX ( Los Angles Hilton near the airpot ) had a pretty similar policy. I go to enough meetings there to have worked out a parking space which is semi-acceptable. The valets at the front entrance, have no clue, and direct you to park by the dumpsters in the ally. That where the kitchen staff puts their junkers. I now put my nice Titanium bike in the parking garage, in the valet area, in a corner where the SUV's leave an otherwise unusable space. And I tip the valet's to "watch it".

Probably time to send a letter to Hilton management to provide bike racks at the front entrance ( like they do handicap access.)

Eric W

Damian said...

It would've been awesome if you'd stuck your note to the helicopter with a piece of used gum.