I normally don't think too much about how society picks on cyclists, but recent threads have made me realize that I'm tired of being treated like a second class citizen or a kook and I'm going to do something about it.
Last month, I decided to take my wife out for a nice night out to dinner and the opera. Bicycles are my preferred form of transport, so I took the tandem to the drive through car wash to get it looking nice. They refused to sell me a ticket despite the fact that the sign clearly stated that a single vehicle costs $6 for a basic wash and that large SUVs and tall pickups could not use the facilities. Despite the fact that I had a vehicle that was not listed as prohibited, they still refused to serve me saying that it might be unsafe for an uncovered person in the wash.
Things only went downhill from there. When I arrived at the restaurant, the valets simply refused to park my vehicle. They seemed willing to park any other vehicle and despite the fact they undoubtedly knew how to ride a bike before they can drive, they still refused. Again, no written policies refusing services to bicycles were presented despite my repeated demands.
After this insult, I insisted on seeing a manager. One did show up, but rather than talk about the surly and incompetent staff, he said I needed a jacket and tie before I would be seated. I knew about this policy in advance and made sure my jacket had been neatly washed and I brought my favorite bolo tie in my pocket. I asked him to produce written documentation as to why my jacket was not OK, and all he said was that I could not bring something visually distracting despite the fact that I need my hi viz jacket with reflective stripes for safety. He said I needed a sport jacket and offered me one, but I wasn't about to take mine off for that piece of garbage -- particularly since mine had much more to do with sports than the loaner he offered. I left with my wife in disgust.
Knowing from reading BF that McDonald's wouldn't let us use the drive through, we tried Wendy's. We encountered incompetent and hostile staff/management and then attempted a number of other chains with equal lack of success. Eventually, we found a locally run taqueria which served us on our bikes.
We went to the opera, and practically the same thing happened as at the restaurant. We were refused valet service. We were refused entry despite having a valid ticket and the requisite jacket and tie. At least the opera management gave us a full refund.
I have written letters to the management and headquarters of all companies involved as well as all my elected officials detailing the difficulties I encountered and offering to attend meetings with decisionmakers to see what can be done. Just a handy tip -- if you provide thorough and well-reasoned arguments in your letters, you can save money by sending them via UPS rather than the post office.
I am thoroughly disgusted by this discrimination against cyclists, and my wife was very upset by the way we were treated. You'd be amazed how grumpy she was by the end of the evening even though the opera was only 20 miles from where we lived.....