Those who read this blog regularly might remember that I've touched on the subject of shopping by bike several times. I want to come at it from a different angle this time.
Supermarkets are set up for motorists. Their PR folk will say this isn't so, while offering discount petrol for those en route to the 'free' parking we subsidise. Supermarkets, especially the ever more dominant suburban superstores, are for motorists.
Now we can make the (very valid) argument that this is all wrong, they should cater to cyclists because we spend more money than motorists (the theory being we make more trips, we're exposed to their marketing more, and as we've higher average earnings we spend more). That's all well and good but its missing the point. And, more importantly, the marketing folk at these gargantuan retailers know this, they've read the same studies we have. Simple economics dictate that they ought to be putting better bike locking in - but they don't.
I don't get all my shit from supermarkets. I get most of my veg from the allotment, I get most of my meat from the farm shops or the butchers, I get the rest of my stuff from greengrocers, wholefood shops, the market, and indeed some of it from supermarkets (or 'grocers' as I suppose they once were). I suppose that Tesco could install the best bike racks in the world or Asda could start offering free puppy play areas, but I'd still not really use them for the bulk of my shopping.
Supermarkets fear us. We're not tied to making one trip through ghastly, soul destroying traffic per week, we don't need to strip the shelves of irradiated, nutrient free sliced white bread and 28 pints of milk that have to last until next Saturday. We don't have to fill a car boot with plastic wrapped chemical sludge to microwave on high for 2 minutes before leaving to rest for 1 minute prior to puking in it and putting it in the bin. We. Are. Free.
We can shop anywhere. We're not tied in to a lifestyle that necessitates living like a Walmart slave. For most products supermarkets offer us no advantage - we aren't their slaves like the motons are.
Its not that supermarkets don't want to serve us - they would love our custom, but anything they could do to make it apparent that you can live a different way is also directly threatening to their business. It isn't that they don't understand our spending power. The truth is that supermarkets fear our freedom, our capacity to defect from their system where consumers shuffle zombielike with a trolley full of drug laden ecological timebombs through a shop so dehumanised they've even removed the checkout staff for fear we'll eat their brains. They don't want to discourage us from shopping with them - they want to discourage us from promoting a lifestyle that they see as directly challenging to the abhorrence of their existence.
In an economy where getting a car, having kids, driving said kids to Morrisons once a week so you can have a sugar-fuelled family feud enacted in the sanitary products aisle is considered normal, doing something as radical as shopping by bicycle is an act of sedition. Viewed this way, the congested roads leading to the hypermarket become the arteries through which vampiric multinationals suck value from our local economies.
Lack of good cycle parking at supermarkets isn't an oversight, nor is it lack of consideration towards valuable customers. Its an act of aggression towards us, and the better lifestyles we represent.