Biking to the Grocery Store

A post on Steven Can Plan on grocery store bike racks in Chicago inspired me to write about Carson City. There are eleven stores that I’ll include. I’m listing them by geography, north to south, and at the end I’ll make some recommendations. I’ve also added notes about public transit, the JAC bus system.

For information on other bicycle racks, see the Carson City Bicycle Rack database. For bike route information, see the Carson City Bicycle Route Map online or available at local bike stores, or use the bicycling layer routing function in Google Maps, which is incomplete for Carson City but still useful.

Save Mart Supermarkets North

Save Mart Supermarkets North (3620 N Carson St): RACKS (A) – Two sets of wave bike racks are available near the south door, with a good location and visibility. These thick pipe racks can be a little hard to lock to, but they are better than most. ACCESS – College Parkway has bike lanes to the west and east. Carson St has wide shoulders for biking, however, they are not designated bike lanes and the traffic speed can be uncomfortable for many people. For neighborhoods southwest, the easiest access is to use a pass-through on Wagner St to Oak Ridge Dr. For the east, College is the best place to cross Carson St, though you need to be aware of right turning traffic both westbound and eastbound. Crossing Carson at Nye or Silver Oak is not recommended because there is no signal control at these intersections. TRANSIT – The store is accessible on JAC routes 1 (red) and 2A/2B (green).

Walmart Carson Crossing

Walmart Carson Crossing (3200 Market St): RACKS (A) – Several wave racks are located near every entrance, good location and good visibility. These thick pipe racks can be a little hard to lock to, but they are better than most. ACCESS – For neighborhoods to the west, Hot Springs Rd, with signed shared lanes is the best, though some people are not comfortable with the narrow roadway width. From the north, Roop St has fog line shoulders, though they aren’t designated bicycle lanes. Route 1 multi-use path leads to Retail Dr on the north, and from the south, exits onto the sidewalk on the south side of College Pkwy. There is a pass-through from Table Rock Rd behind Walmart which can be used by the neighborhood to the south. TRANSIT – The store is directly served by JAC routes 1 (red) and 2A/2B (green). There is a bus shelter with bike racks just west of the store.

Safeway

Safeway Food & Drug (2035 N Carson St): RACKS (C) – There is a traditional toaster type rack located near the main south entrance, good location and visibility. These types of racks have a low usability rating, though. Really only the ends of the rack can be used, and the middle slots are not for anyone who cares about their bike or wants to lock their bike. I’ve seen this rack full a few times. ACCESS – Neighborhoods to the west can use Winnie Ln which has designated bike lanes, turning north onto Carson into the main entrance rather than getting into cross traffic at the south entrance. To the northeast, Hot Springs Rd is a shared lane route, with a short jog onto Sage St. Using the center lanes on Hot Springs can be a little uncomfortable, but is actually pretty safe. From the southeast, access is difficult. Carson has heavy traffic with no bike lane or shoulder, and Roop St also has heavy traffic with no bike lane or shoulder. In both cases, you will need to take the lane to stay safe. TRANSIT – The store is served by JAC route 1 (red), with a northbound stop in front on Carson St and a southbound stop on Winnie Ln to the south.

Grocery Outlet (1831 N Carson St): RACKS (F) – This store has no bike racks. ACCESS – Carson St north and south of the store are identified on the bicycle map as a dangerous route. Winnie Ln, a long block north of the store, has bike lanes to the west. Long St, well south of the store, is a designated bicycle route and comfortable to ride. Due to the narrow lanes and heavy traffic on Carson St, many people ride on the sidewalks here. TRANSIT – JAC route 1 (red) serves Winnie Ln a long block north of the store.

Save Mart Supermarkets East

Save Mart Supermarkets East (3325 US Highway 50 E): RACKS (C) – The small coat-hanger traditional rack is nearly useless, and is tucked into a corner near the south entrance, with moderate location and visibility. ACCESS – There are bike lanes, wide sidewalks, and roadway shoulders along both sides of William St (Hwy 50) to the east and west. Different people will prefer different facilities. Neighborhoods to the north can cross William at Airport Rd which is reasonably safe with signal control. The block of Airport Rd between William and Woodside is narrow, busy, and with poor pavement quality, so using the south entrance off Woodside is much better. The rest of the streets in the neighborhood to the south do not have lanes, but are in general low traffic streets with reasonable width. TRANSIT – The store is served by JAC route 2A/2B (green).

Smith's Food & Drug

Smith’s Food & Drug (599 E William St): RACKS (C) – The traditional toaster rack is to the left of the main entrance, with moderate location and visibility. These toaster racks damage bikes and are difficult to lock to. ACCESS – William St north of the store is identified as a dangerous route on the bicycle route map, however, it is usable for people willing to take the lane. Stewart St extension to the north is another shared lane road, though it is not signed as such, but the jog over to the entrance off William or to Valley St may not be comfortable. Roop St from the north will have bike lanes. Neighborhoods to the south can use Valley St and other streets in this low traffic grid area. TRANSIT – The store is served by JAC routes 1 (red) and 2A/2B which run on Roop St one block to the east; the library stop with shelters are the most convenient.

Raley's Supermarket

Raley’s Supermarket (3701 S Carson St): RACKS (C) – The traditional toaster rack is located around the corner from the south entrance, with poor location and visibility. These traditional racks damage bikes and are hard to lock to. ACCESS – Carson St north and south of Raley’s is indicated on the bicycle map as a dangerous route, and many people in this area use the sidewalks instead. Koontz Ln on the north side of the store has designated (though faded) bicycle lanes, from Curry St in the west to Center Dr in the east. Roop St east of the shopping center has designated bicycle lanes to the north and south. Eagle Station Ln has acceptable width. Clearview Dr has a variable width and is usable but not comfortable. TRANSIT – The store is served by JAC route 3 (purple) which runs on Koontz Ln just north of the store, and by BlueGo route 21X which serves runs on Carson, Koontz, Curry and Clearview, about two blocks away from the store.

Save Mart Supermarkets South

Save Mart Supermarkets South (4348 S Carson St): RACKS (B) – The small wave rack is a modern rack, but was installed too close to the wall for convenient use. It is to the left of the east entrance, with moderate location and visibility. ACCESS – Curry St to the west of the store has designated bike lanes to the north and reasonable width to the south. Carson St in this area is indicated as a dangerous route on the bicycle map. Clearview Dr has a variable width and is usable but not comfortable. Snyder Ave to the southeast is narrow with moderately high traffic, with risky crossing of Carson St heading east or west. TRANSIT – The store is served by JAC route 3 (purple) southbound and by BlueGo route 21X both directions.

Costco (700 Old Clear Creek Rd): RACKS (F) – There are no bicycle racks at this store. There is one Muscle Powered yellow bike rack in Fuji Park across the street, near the bathrooms, but none at the bus stop or in the rest of Fuji Park. ACCESS – Old Clear Creek Rd has designated bike lanes. Access from the west is by Old Clear Creek Ave and Lupin Dr, which do not have facilities but area bikeable. TRANSIT – JAC route 3 (purple) serves the store, with a bus stop and shelter directly across the street, and BlueGo route 21X also serves the same stop. Given that Costco specializes in bulk items, transit may be a much more practical way of shopping here than bicycling.

Trader Joe's

Trader Joe’s (3790 US 395 S): RACKS (B) – The modern wave rack just west of Trader Joe’s is installed improperly close to the wall, so is really only useable by two bikes at a time. It has good location and visibility. The walkway is also narrow, so that bikes may be bumped by shopping carts. Other bike racks in this shopping center are somewhat better, but all were installed incorrectly. ACCESS – Carson St north to Old Clear Creek Rd, and south, has wide shoulders but no bike lane designation. Topsy Ln to the east is an acceptable bicycle route. The best access to the store is to use Clear Creek Rd and Lupin Dr on the east side of Carson St, crossing at the signal which is reasonable, using the bike lane on Old Clear Creek Rd, heading south on Vista Grande Blvd which is rough but acceptably wide (with a steep hill – fortunately you are going down this hill with your grocery load!), and then into the shopping center at the back entrance behind Walmart. Be careful of traffic around the Walmart. TRANSIT – The shopping center is poorly served by JAC 3 (purple) which stops on Old Clear Creek Rd next to Fuji Park, about a quarter mile away, and better by BlueGo 21X which serves a stop on Topsy Ln. The Douglas County DART bus runs so seldom that it is not worth considering.

Walmart South (3770 US Highway 395 S): RACKS (F) – There are NO bike racks at this store. There are a few bike racks in the shopping center, all incorrectly installed. There are a few good bikes racks in Carson Valley Plaza to the south of Topsy Ln. ACCESS – Carson St north to Old Clear Creek Rd, and south, has wide shoulders but no bike lane designation. Topsy Ln to the east is an acceptable bicycle route. The best access to the store is to use Clear Creek Rd and Lupin Dr on the east side of Carson St, crossing at the signal which is reasonable, using the bike lane on Old Clear Creek Rd, heading south on Vista Grande Blvd which is rough but acceptably wide (with a steep hill – fortunately you are going down this hill with your grocery load!), and then into the shopping center at the back entrance behind Walmart. Be careful of traffic around the Walmart. TRANSIT – The shopping center is poorly served by JAC 3 (purple) which stops on Old Clear Creek Rd next to Fuji Park, about a quarter mile away, and better by BlueGo 21X which serves a stop on Topsy Ln. The Douglas County DART bus runs so seldom that it is not worth considering.

Recommendations

Racks

The best bike racks in town are at Save Mart Supermarkets North and Walmart Carson Crossing, both in the north end of town. Have a cargo bike or trailer? Probably only the Walmart Carson Crossing racks will work for you.

It is not likely that you will change grocery stores based on bike racks. However, you may be able to improve or add bike racks by talking to the store manager about the type of racks and how they are installed. If the manager seems receptive, Muscle Powered will provide some guidance about what kind of rack to buy and where to install it. If you do your shopping by bike, let them know!

My criteria for a great bicycle rack is a modern rack of inverted-U or loop design, a location closer than any parking space, highly visible, and with sufficient capacity at all times of day. Wave racks, though “modern”, are often used in such a way that two bikes use up the whole rack. The rack at Safeway is the only one I’ve ever seen full (and I notice this one more than others because it is close to my house and where I shop when I’m not shopping at Trader Joe’s), but all of them could be full as our transportation modes shift. So there should also be room set aside for increasing capacity as use increases. Often the nearest non-handicapped parking spaces can simply be converted into a bike parking corral, as many cities have done with street parking.

Access

The best access is probably Save Mart Supermarket North, Walmart Carson Crossing, and  Raley’s Supermarket, though access depends a lot on what direction you are coming from and what your level of comfort is with biking on various facilities such as bike lanes, shared lanes (signed and not), narrow roadways, and varying levels of traffic.

You may also be able to affect access by getting involved with Muscle Powered, Carson City Public Works, and Carson City Regional Transportation Commission to identify places where the bikeways network in Carson City is insufficient for your transportation needs.

Transit

All the stores have good to decent transit access, but Walmart Carson Crossing is the best.

Overall

Grocery shopping is something nearly everyone does on a frequent schedule, from daily to weekly, so next to work and school it is probably the most important destination to get right, with usable modern racks placed in a convenient and visible location near the store entrance, and bicycle facilities (bike lanes or functional shared lanes) leading right to the store from several directions. We can do much better than we are doing now!

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2 thoughts on “Biking to the Grocery Store

  1. I’m glad my post about rating grocery stores (or really, any major retailer that people tend to ride their bikes to) has inspired others to do the same.

    You did an excellent job in writing this post, especially in your conclusion when you identify the leaders in the Carson City grocery store community. With surveys like the one you took, we can assist other retailers in achieving as good or better bike parking as the leaders.

    Keep up the good work, and encourage your blogroll to do the same in their neighborhood.

  2. I’m quite impressed by your survey and writeup – very nice.
    You’ve provided all the information for people to request better
    bike parking, and provided comparisons between stores that do it
    right and those that don’t. Nice to see that Trader Joe’s is
    consistently bad with installing bike racks. One of their stores
    here in Chicago has it’s rack too close to the wall as well.. my
    bike wouldn’t even fit. I write about bike parking too by the way.
    😉

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