Aw… Urban Cyclists Bump Up Against ‘Capitalism’… WTF!

Background Reading


quote3You just knew it had to start sometime. The world is knocking on the door of the Church of the Urban Cyclists with its hand out! Can you imagine the irony is this thread:

Millenium Park - Bike Station © Steven Vance

Millenium Park – Bike Station
© Steven Vance

No more free parking at McDonald’s Cycle Center
Posted by Sarah Lewert on April 23, 2013 at 9:13am
I found out yesterday that the Cycle Center will no longer allow non-members to park their bikes there. The explanation was that with all the construction going on, they were having issues and the city was making it worse. This starts on May 1. I for one, am totally bummed.

Can we all take a moment and commiserate with her. Now let me be clear here. This is property owned by the city which expects “members” to join to use. Our intrepid Urban Cyclists are always giggling about how much money they save by cycling to work and how many pounds they will lose if they give cycling a try for a year.

Cycling's Health Benefits

Cycling’s Health Benefits

So now the cold hard truth is sinking in. This is not going to be an endless set of “freebies” for all time to come. Somebody has to help the McDonald’s Cycle Center actually become self-sustaining if not profitable. Guess that burden rests on the shoulders of the clueless ones.

Reply by Anne Alt 1 hour ago
Disappointing news.

Reply by Anne B. 1 hour ago
Any idea if there will there be a day use fee if someone wants to lock up just for a day, or do you have to get a monthly membership?

See the wheels are starting to turn here. She must have an MBA and has figured out the first step in the process of “paying your way”.

Reply by JeffB (7+ miles) 58 minutes ago
Are you talking about the outside racks? That would suck because that’s the best place to park during concerts at Millennium. Btw, how would they know?; do members put stickers on their bikes?

Reply by David crZven 10.6 56 minutes ago
The website, naturally, does not report the change. Its an all too sad commentary on the state of the City and the further division of society into the class of haves and have nots. The best way to develop a democratic state is to have many services available to everyone regardless of income and without any “needs” tests or “fees”. Yet here in Chicago, even things such as Public Schools now have “school fees” which a parent must pay or go through a long rigamarole to prove that the parent cannot. That’s contrary to the basic concept of a public school with uniform opportunities for all.
And the idea that now only “members” who can afford the monthly or annual fee (admittedly not that high a fee) can have safe bicycle parking is similarly non-democratic. And it is targeted at the less avid rider — someone who we should be encouraging to ride.
The good news is that we do have an option. What is the name of the bicycle center? McDonalds. A corporation subject to public pressure. My guess is that it would not take that much pressure for McDonalds to pressure the city to reverse this decision. Does McDonalds really want the City turning people away from a facility with their name on it earning their resentment.
Here’s a link to send them a message on their Social Responsibility Page:…

News Flash! Taking advantage of a situation does not require a notification that freeloaders are no longer welcomed.

Did it ever occur to this crowd that dues paying members might have approached the establishment and asked why they were bothering to pay for something that was obviously free to anyone too cheap to join? Come on folks. This is not rocket science.

Reply by Kevin C 52 minutes ago
Yes. Members have stickers on their bikes.

Reply by David crZven 10.6 51 minutes ago
My message
Dear McDonalds:
It is my understanding that the City of Chicago has decided no longer to allow free parking in the McDonalds’ sponsored Chicago Bicycle Center. Parking will now be restricted to people who purchase a monthly or annual membership. Apparently no daily option would be available. As I understand this, the facility was sponsored in part by McDonalds to support healthy exercise and to support alternate transportation by families on the weekend to enjoy the lakefront. Yet by now limiting it to monthly members, it will now be perceived as an “elite” facility intended to support a limited few with a special interest. I would think that McDonalds would not want their name on such a “special interest” facility. As such, perhaps McDonalds should suggest to the city that, as the sponsor, they would like the city, at a minimum, to provide a reasonable daily option.

ChainLinkers are nothing if not easily affronted. They grew irate when the CTA cut their bikes free from the hand rails in stations where they were being parked when a perfectly good bike rack was available in a safer place. Now of course they want to be indignant over being “forced” to do what ever other parking user in the city has to endure, paying their fair share.

Reply by Kevin C 44 minutes ago
I think you’re assuming facts not in evidence here, David. Bike and Roll has a multi-year contract with the City to operate the Cycle Center. I believe the decision is Bike & Roll’s not the City’s. McDonald’s simply bought naming rights for the Center. They have no ongoing operational responsibilities. Bike & Roll also has their corporate nose out of joint due to their unsuccessful bid to operate the City’s bike share program (which went to Alta).

Reply by David crZven 10.6 34 minutes ago
McDonalds name is still on it. Their name is all over the website. The City wants future naming rights payments and the like from McDonalds. McDonalds is the guy that “looks” like the bad guy to Jane and Janet Roe when they bring their kids down to Millenium Park on the weekend and find that they cannot park their bicycles at this facility after having read about this facility in their paper. The City may ignore pressure from citizens, it does not ignore pressure from large corporations that spend a lot of PR money to maintain their image.
This should be a relatively easy one to apply pressure to. A threat of a boycott or two or a protest, and McDonalds will clearly swing into action. They want to be associated with “beautiful people on bicycles” not overweight teenagers guzzling 40 ounce sodas and eating fat laden Big Macs.

Guys, cut the crap! Dig into those tiny little sections of leather you carry in your back pockets and peel out a few of those green things you generally save for drinking beer. Now a few of them will have to pay for your “no longer free” parking.

Reply by Duppie 13.5185km 24 minutes ago
Also, I disagree with the idea that paying for secure bike parking is elitist.
European countries (ie. the Netherlands) whose societies are arguably much more egalitarian than the US have deployed these pay-per-use guarded bike facilities across the country for years. After unsuccessfully fighting bike theft for decades they have figured out that the only way to prevent bike theft is by parking your bike behind a guard. Clearly such guarded facilities come at a cost. Asking the users to pay that cost is a reasonable request.

Reply by David crZven 10.6 15 minutes ago
But that’s not, apparently, what they are doing. It only lists a monthly membership option. That pretty much eliminates casual use. And, of course, consistent with the American Model, the center carries corporate sponsorship. In my experience, the ones in Europe that have corporate sponsorship are low cost or free and even the non-sponsored ones only have a nominal charge.

Reply by blair_ 11 minutes ago
I would assume the parking behind the bike garage would remain as is since it’s outside? Right now they allow free parking on the lower level – I assume that’s what they’re talking about.
Honestly, I would never expect to get free indoor parking unless it was included in an office building or apartment.

Reply by blair_ 9 minutes ago
Yes, I believe the charge is $4-5 for you to park for the day and have access to the locker room for a shower.

Wow! Only $4-$5 AND you get to use a shower! Yikes! Do the motorists in the city know about this? To get those kinds of deals you would have to park at the UIC garage on the weekends only and visit the flea market. Sadly however they do not offer me showers. Come to think of it, I’m gonna have to complain that as a paying parking customer I deserve a free shower along with my $5.

Reply by David crZven 10.6 1 hour ago
The famous expression is that “there is no such thing as a free lunch“. The thing is that the parking is not “free” any more than TV is “free”. It is available to you without a supplemental charge, but you pay for it because you have to put up with the advertising. And that’s what McDonalds was really paying for when they purchased the naming rights/sponsored this. The change to a charge basis (and only with the “full service” access) is a big change. John and Jack Doe might not want access to the shower if they are using it on the weekend. They might only want the secure parking (which is what was provided before). Now it has an enhanced charge of $8 to $10. A family of 4 is looking at $16 to $20. All new charges. And ultimately they will associate this with McDonalds. If I were in McDonalds corporate I would be fuming.

Reply by Sarah Lewert 43 minutes ago
From what I learned yesterday, they will no longer offer daily or any other options other than the standard $30/month fee.

Good for them. Given the amount of money ChainLinkers spend drinking there most certainly is enough in their budget to pay their “fair share“.

Reply by blair_ 40 minutes ago
Good to know about the daily passes. Pretty sure the annual passes aren’t changing – I haven’t heard anything, and I’m a member.

Reply by JeffB (7+ miles) 37 minutes ago
Sarah, I’m still unclear. Does this apply only to the spaces inside the building, or also to the racks outside?

Reply by Sarah Lewert 36 minutes ago
I’m guessing just inside. I didn’t specifically ask about the outside. Surely they can’t stop people or charge you for parking outside.

Reply by BruceBikes 35 minutes ago
I think the number of people who see the “McDonalds Cycle Center” on a map or brochure (and possibly associate McDonalds with a healthy lifestyle) far, far outnumbers the number of people who might happen to come in looking for a day pass and get turned away.
McDonalds probably couldn’t care less about the pricing change.

Reply by Cameron 7.5 mi 28 minutes ago
Yes, McDonalds is getting their advertising value out of the millions of people who visit Millennium park and see “McDonalds Cycle Center” on maps and signs, not the relatively few people who actually park their bike there.

Herewith ends the lesson in Capitalism 101. Now all you Socialists will have to decide whether you can stomach Free Enterprise or will have to move to Detroit and find more free parking.

Reply by David crZven 10.6 43 minutes ago
In essence, the center is being turned from something which could potentially serve anyone coming down into Grant Park into a private club for the 300 or so members. This is something that SHOULD be of interest to the Bicycling Community. And it will be of interest to those that come down to a concert, for example, and are turned away. And they tell their friends and so forth. The real question is what steps can be taken to accelerate this into a sufficient PR disaster for them to put pressure on the City.

Reply by blair_ 38 minutes ago
Why isn’t anyone demanding that Millenium Park install more outdoor parking? I’m not following why a paid bike garage is responsible for the parking for all Millenium Park events?
Yes, it sucks and I’m glad someone pointed it out. But turning this into a PR disaster? Really?

Reply by Jason 30 minutes ago
That isn’t a democratic state, that is socialism. (He is responding to the blathering of David crZven)

Reply by BruceBikes 12 minutes ago
Out of curiosity, does anyone know what construction would be impacting the Cycle Center? Has work begun on the Bicentennial Park redesign? (I don’t get over that way very often.)
In any case, I can’t imagine how construction would have an impact on the amount of free parking the Center can offer. Maybe maintenance costs or city permits/fees have gone up which requires the operator to increase the amount of membership parking to offset the increase. But construction? Anyone have any other ideas?

Reply by blair_ 10 minutes ago
Yes, that work has definitely started. Not sure how that impacts parking though – thinking about asking the front desk before my ride home tonight.

This is clearly not a crowd with any idea of how a business actually works. No wonder they were pissed off when small business people along Milwaukee Avenue differed with their assessment of the impact on shopping volume if parking lanes were removed. Somebody with a business degree and some practical business ownership experience in the Urban Cycling Movement who does not care whether he gets booted from the ChainLink Forum or not should speak up and demystify things for these yokels.

A New Term Is Born : “Internet Mobism”

As the old saying goes, If you’re explaining, you’re losing. Or, more pungently, there’s the (possibly true!) story about LBJ spreading a rumor that his opponent was a pig-fucker. Aide: “Lyndon, you know he doesn’t do that!” Johnson: “I know. I just want to make him deny it.” If you’re denying, you’re losing.

Kevin Drum – Mother Jones

A word about this indelicate quotation from the late LBJ, for the moment let us return to the stupidity of the ChainLink Forum as it is displayed in throating of one of its “favorite sons“:

Reply by Anne Alt 2 hours ago
The Bicentennial Park makeover started months ago. I don’t see how that would have a significant impact on the bike station. Is there other construction closer to the bike station that does have an impact?

Reply by Sarah Lewert 1 hour ago
Is Bicentennial Park the same as Maggie Daley park? Because that’s the construction they were blaming it on.

Reply by BruceBikes 1 hour ago
Yes. Daley Bicentennial is being renamed to Maggie Daley in honor of our late First Lady of Chicago.

As usual the group gets sidetracked on minutiae which has very little to do with the overall problem being discussed. None of this blather has any importance, let us move on:

Reply by Will G – 10mi 1 hour ago
Easy there, let’s take a step back.
Why are we expecting that indoor, semi-secure bike parking should be free to all? Yes, I understand that it has been free previously, but when/why did free become the necessary, expected price to use this facility? Paying people to run this facility costs money. Paying people to maintain this facility costs money. Building this facility costed money, etc.
Also, do we have another source or are we all getting worked up based on one story from a single person that hasn’t yet been verified? I can ask today when I go get my bike if that would help.

This is where the problem with this entire discussion lies. The McDonald’s Cycle Center is not the “happy meal” toy for Urban Cyclists. It is in fact a “business“. Let me repeat, a “business“. They have costs and expenses and neither of those is addressed when “freeloaders” take advantage of a situation in plain sight of the “paying customers“.

Reply by Will G – 10mi 1 hour ago
Jeff, yes, members have stickers on their bikes. They started this back in 2010 if my memory serves correctly. I don not think that this will apply to the outside parking though.

Reply by Mike Zumwalt 1 hour ago
Maybe they should raise prices on the dollar menu.…

Why Mike Zumwalt has decided to attempt to derail the discussion is beyond me. Either the logic required to follow the notion of how a business operates is beyond him or he is simply bored beyond belief by the attempts of others to explain, but either way it is this kind of typical ChainLink Forum attack that makes the place the kind of cesspool it is. Grow up!

Reply by Will G – 10mi 1 hour ago
Besides the, probable, multi-million dollar payment that McDonald’s gave the city initially to secure naming rights, they have NOTHING to do with this facility. It is managed by a private company. You can take a look at their website here:

Reply by blair_ 1 hour ago
McDonalds just threw their name on the building for exposure. I can’t imagine anyone higher up in that company caring about any of this. Bike & Roll operates the location.
If CTA train stations become sponsored, should we raise hell with Apple, Starbucks, etc. if we’re not satisfied with public transit?

Reply by Sarah Lewert 56 minutes ago
I got the story straight from the guy working there. Feel free to verify. They made signs and everything.

Reply by Will G – 10mi 51 minutes ago
Sorry Sarah, I didn’t mean to imply that you made anything up, just trying to get David’s “internet mob-ism” under control a bit.

Back To The Future

So here is where we get back to the indelicate reference to LBJ. The key thing that Johnson wanted to do was distract his opponent long enough to deny an obvious lie for him (LBJ) to forge ahead with his agenda. The seems to be playing itself out here in the ChainLink Forum as well. The problem is exacerbated by several things:

  • You have a base of activists here who are large Socialists in their leanings and David crZven arguments makes that abundantly clear.
  • The “adults” on this forum are generally silent through most of the pouting and name-calling that goes on within the virtual walls of the ChainLink Forum.
  • And when they do finally step up to speak their message falls on “deaf ears” largely because they wait too late and say too damned little most of the time.
  • If you get folks blathering on the ChainLink Forum about things that make both them and by extension the general group look stupid, then you have already lost.

Ask yourself this question, “If you were a small business personlistening‘ to this thread would you feel confident that anything these assholes had to say about your take on parking had any basis in the “Real World“? Pardon my French but these nut cases get under my skin to the point that they chafe. Either give them the foil hats they desire or politely usher them off “stage left“.

Reply by David crZven 10.6 5 minutes ago
The name of the place is the McDonald’s Cycle Center. Not the Millenium Park Cycle Center sponsored by McDonalds or any other such version of the name. Its a PR stunt like the Ronald McDonald Houses.
If my CTA station was called the Apple Computer Fullerton Station or the United Airlines River Road Station, hell yes I would complain to them if I was not satisfied with what was going on. And they would care as well. Companies pick and pay (often big bucks) to be associated with things that bring them good reputations and publicity. Its U.S. Cellular Field, not U.S. Cellular Metropolitan Correctional Center or U.S. Cellular Sewage Treatment Facility. And if the item being sponsored is no longer “prestigious” I want my name off of it. Look how many companies stopped associating with Tiger Woods even though his visibility was still high. This is certainly a change at the facility and a change which reflects on the corporate image being pushed. If enough of us complained, change would happen. But instead, I guess we are happy to keep kvetching about problems that we actually can’t fix…

Easy little fellow. Not sure where this outrage comes from. Perhaps a Midnight Marauder outing is needed to reset your nut case helmet’s alignment. You fellows give real beer drinkers a bad name however. I sense that it is only when you cannot find where you parked your bike after a night out that you feel centered.

Reply by Jason 3 minutes ago
Apple doesn’t even care enough of what people think to close down the sweatshops.

My guess is that he owns a Samsung device made in an even more controlling environment. But then again, he might not have heard that Apple is moving their production back state-side. It won’t matter, guys like this are certain enough about their “facts” that they make Alex Jones look sane. I’m just hoping that “come the revolution” these guys, the skin heads of the Aryan Brotherhood and Alex Jones’ NRA pals all get to share the same cells. Now that I would pay to see.