Indoors or out... where do bikes belong?

No one ever told me that when you reach that level where cycling becomes your way of life, your identity, more than just your A-to-B, that you would have to begin to fight a war. The war between good and evil, right and wrong... a.k.a. bike placement, inside or outdoors.

Words - Katie Quinn     Images - Jeff Curtes

For the second time this week I’ve been put in the dreaded “no bikes in here” position. I decided to ride my bike to a work training day hosted by an external body, at a facility that I’ve visited before. However today was the first time I arrived by bike, which I had planned to delicately and subtly put at the back of the classroom. And now I’ve got some big security guy that looks like Borat, in a cheap suit that’s about 2 sizes too large, who’s sitting at the front desk and telling me that “bikes belong outside”. Seriously?

Now Borat wants me to leave my bike outside and I don’t really have a choice. Either I do what he says or I go home. I didn’t bring a lock with me today, I know that’s my fault, however two very sturdy locks didn’t stop my other bikes from being stolen. In my view - keep bikes close, keep them safe. Now my bike is alone, vulnerable, unsecured and unattended.

It’s one thing at the cafe when your mates are around, keeping one eye on their lattes and the other on the freedom machines. The helmet lock is on… it’ll be fine. Today’s situation however was like leaving a diamond ring or a Rolex watch out on the footpath. Better still, it’s like leaving a car in the driveway, doors open, key in the ignition, ready to roll. Now I’m having a standoff with Gandalf, who’s putting out there a firm “YOU SHALL NOT PASS”, with his anti-bike demeanor. Perhaps it’s because I love cycling; perhaps it’s because I’ve grown up in a family who are used to having bikes in the hallway, but I don’t understand.

I personally think that it’s a brilliant idea to bring my bike inside, or at least be able to choose for myself where I want to leave it. But I’ll give the Borat look-a-like a few concessions. There are times when a bike shouldn’t come indoors. For example, if you’ve got cream coloured carpet and you bike is covered with mud or dripping wet, perhaps you should really ask yourself “should I wash/clean/blow-dry my bike first?” or more to the point “is it time to get the floors tiled, would floating floorboards be better?” But as long as your bike isn’t filthy, and mine gets washed at least 10 times more frequently as my car, then what’s the problem?

I’ve heard the “I don’t want the bike to damage the walls” argument, but any schoolbag, dirty bin liner or piece of furniture would do the same. What if I promise to be really, really careful AND clean up after myself? I’ll put a towel between my handlebars and the walls… hey presto – no contact!

Then there’s the space debate. It may not always be practical to have your bike positioned behind your desk, but 9 times out of 10 your bike isn’t going to be a big obtrusion. Perhaps leave the tandem at home, even I think that’s a tad excessive.

I promise not to obstruct walkways, or create a hazard for other staff.

I realise it may start a trend for fit, beautiful Lycra bandits to want to keep their bikes indoors too. I happen to think that an office space is vastly improved with a shiny S-Works in the corner. That Pinarello actually enhances the ambiance. That BMC tucked behind the door is better than any “reach for the stars” or “there’s no I in team” motivational poster that I’ve ever seen.

For the bosses, bikes inside are good for your business. Your clients and customers will think you’re a progressive, environmentally conscious company. When your staff commute they will allow appropriate “fudge factor” to repair a flat, have a shower, straighten their luscious locks; so now your employees are punctual, efficient and much better looking*.

No more getting stuck in traffic, or running late due to another accident on the Westgate. When your staff have the option to keep their bikes secure, stress levels decrease, and much less time is spent on the Gumtree / eBay / Buy-Swap-Sell forums looking for their stolen goods in the  ‘$50 and under’ category. And if their two-wheeled vehicle is still secured to the rack at the end of the day, surely they’ll be more likely to ride and free up a car space for your hideous convertible.

To the ‘significant others’, in particular the non-riding variety... on the home front I’m positive that having bikes inside is normal. Studies have shown your partner is going to be at least 50% happier, 75% more likely to do the dishes and 85% funnier* if their favourite bike lives indoors. Not to mention so much quieter in the early morning hours when they’re getting ready to ride. 

Back to Borat... luckily for me this story has a happy ending. At the end of the day my bike was still there, stashed behind some bins just where I left it. I was genuinely surprised it hadn’t been whisked away into the arms of the local bikies and drug dealers. Perhaps Borat was right, at this particular facility the bikes are ‘safe’ outside, but that’s not the point.

Next time I’ll definitely make sure to bring a BIG lock with me (and a Rottweiler, force field and a barrage of Special Ops security personnel). At my regular workplace the boss just handed over $100 for a temporary bike stands. He gets it, what a top bloke. We’ve earmarked a position inside under the stairs, out of the way and behind a lockable door. Needless to say I’m very, very happy. Not just for my bike and I, but for the two other colleagues who have since joined the daily commute and I’m hoping with time we’ll convert a few more.

*cycling does not make you better looking

**all studies are made up