On not being permitted to bring a bike into a post office

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Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

"Before the Interbike thread(inevitably?) morphed into a Lance-yes; Lance-no back-and-forth, Carlos Sanchez wrote, ""I (Carlos) was incensed that I wasn't allowed to bring my bike into a Post Office recently on 42nd Street.""

Three weeks ago I again wrote Vinny Malloy, district postmaster, and asked whether one is permitted to bring skis, a golf bag, a surf board, a baby carriage, a bicycle frame, or a pram into a post office. What prompted this was my once again being expelled for CARRYING my bike into the FDR post office by their authority-loving constable. Mind you, this was in a near empty P.O. at 3:59 on a Saturday, a minute before closing.

Malloy's response was wholly unresponsive. He/she sent me a printed policy statement that made no reference to any of the above.

I've cultivated workers at my neighborhood P.O., the Lenox Hill P.O., and found two of them who ride so there's no problem there. Elsewhere, there is...although a couple weeks after being expelled from the FDR, and not dressedlike a bike geek as I earlier had been, I got said uniformed authority figure who expelled me to allow as how if I carry my bike--which I had been--that would be OK. Obviously, he didn't recognize me.

Next up on this: the postmaster general.

And I will renew my suggestion that all postal vehicles have a bumper sticker asking drivers to be mindful of cyclists on the road. You may have read in the Interbike thread my having done this previously only to be told by whomever wrote me for the postmaster their design director didn't want anything on postal vehicles except the USPS logo. As I pointed out in that thread, they shouldn't look now but, lo, what is that? Why, yes! A large MSN billboard ad on the side of their trucks.

So what good comes from all this letter writing? A repaired curb cut onto the GWB is in the offing.

Richard"

Anonymous's picture
Hy S. Terrier (not verified)
Post Office Rules

Suggest that you contact the Post Office Inspector General - yes, there is such a person - for a codification, clarification and certification of the rules and regultions pertaining to the admission of wheeled vehicles into the sacred halls of the United States Postal Service!

Anonymous's picture
Me (not verified)
Same with the 14th street PO

"I walked into the 14th street/Stuyvesant Town post office a few weeks ago with my bike and being very mindfull of others. I was soon after acosted by a Poatal Employee that said this before I could even open my mouth, ""You bring that in here again at the Police will be taking it and you to jail"". Not even a ""please do not bring that in here again"".

It seems FedEx at Union Square never complains when I come to drop off packages strapped to my bike to be sent. They are also much cheaper!

So which works...Public company or Quasi-Governmental?"

sgnoka's picture
sgnoka
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There are some askholes in

There are some askholes in the USPS.  At least a few.

Not commenting on the bike issue, but a few months ago I got into an argument with one and he went in back and told me he'd called the police on me and I was going to be arrested for threatening him. I'd done no such thing.

So I said "OK - did you call the 26th Precinct?" and he said "Yeah" to which I said, OK - I'll wait here" and stepped out of the line and waited nearby, in the post office.  After a while another clerk comes out and tells me I can go home.  To which I said "Oh, the police are coming to pick me up and I want to clarify this right now."  Then after a while the first guy comes out and says "Oh, I sent them to your home."  At this point I was sure he was lying about calling the cops and told him "If you lie to people about calling the police, you have zero respect in my book"  He looked angry and really embarrassed.  It was awesome.

I'm not recommending breaking the law. But bullies should be called out.  "To jail"?  Really?  I'd expect a ticket at most.  

 

 

Anonymous's picture
Chris T (not verified)
Going Postal...

I wouldn't get the Post office people PO'ed. Who knows what they may be packing?

Anonymous's picture
Christian Edstrom (not verified)
Answers from the Postal Service

Executive summary:

I wrote the Post Office. They have replied and forwarded my question to the Postal Service's New York Consumer Affairs Office. There does not seem to be a national policy on whether bikes are allowed in Post Offices.

Long version:

Based on this thread and my own experiences at the Planetarium Station (bikes ok) and Park West (no), I wrote the following message to the USPS:

BEGIN MESSAGE

Hello,

I am writing to request a clarification about the policy on bicycles at Post Offices. At most Post Offices, I have been granted access with my bicycle to transact business, send parcels etc. However, on two occasions, I have been denied access to a Post Office due to my carrying (not rolling) a bicycle.

Please let me know what the official Post Office policy is.

Secondly, if the policy currently allows bikes, please take this as a commendation on your service and if the policy is to disallow bicycles, please take this as a comment to revise said policy to allow access to bicyclists.

Thanks in anticipation!

Christian Edstrom

END MESSAGE

Here is the reply I got from the USPS.

BEGIN REPLY

Response (Jennie) - 10/29/2003 11:34 AM
Thank you for visiting our web site. We are disappointed to learn that we are not serving you well in regards to the bicycle policy. For prompt resolution of local service concerns and inquiries by customers, the Postal Service established Consumer Affairs offices throughout the United States. To facilitate this effort, we will forward your e-mail message to that office for investigation and response to your concern. A representative from the New York Consumer Affairs Office will be contacting you. If we can be of assistance to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thanks for writing. Please visit us again.

END REPLY

I'll let you know what I hear from the New York Consumer Affairs folks.

- Christian

Anonymous's picture
Bill Vojtech (not verified)
The way government usually works...

"They'll probably ban all bikes from all post offices after determining that they should have a consistent policy and bikes might be a problem in some post offices at certain times. Especially in our ""sue-happy"" society.

Beware the unintended consequences!"

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BVan Nieuwenhoven's picture
BVan Nieuwenhoven
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My brief experience

Using the post office on Fourth Avenue and East 11th Street in Manhattan...

One day I simply brought the bike in with me just to see what would happen, and I was there for at least 20 minutes filling out paperwork (certified mail forms + the things being mailed), and everyone was friendly and no one said anything. 

I've done it twice since then without a problem.

======================

Actually, I've been testing this out a lot lately, just bringing my bike inside places that are spacious and have no restrictions posted... it's worked so often that I'm now inclined to try it whenever it seems to make sense. What's the worst someone could say? "Lock it up outside?"

The problem with arguing someone who just made up a rule about bicycles (like all those drivers - I heard from one today - who yell to you that you're not allowed to ride in the middle of the road, ever, even if it's one lane and there's a red light 200ft ahead) is that whatever combination of faults that led them to confront you are also going to make it unlikely or impossible to reason with them.

If you want to change or clarify these policies - and at the PO they likely apply on a branch-by-branch basis - you need to summon your inner Gandhi and ask for a management escalation without a verbal escalation. If the person exerting their "authority" can't cite a specific policy or justification when queried, you simply should say, "I would like to discuss this with your supervisor." And just repeat that over and over again, calmly and respectfully, until they either heed your wishes or until you decide to get out of there when the situation appears to be escalating beyond conversation and beyond reason on the other party's behalf (and you should get out of there, but re-enter sans bike at a different time and file a complaint as appropriate). By following this process, and possibly repeating it if the next person is just as clueless, you'll hopefully reach a consenus with the management about what is officially allowed and disallowed. 

Note that they can call the cops at any time to say they want you ejected from the premises, and there is a real risk of getting into major legal problems if the responding officers are goons. (which, if they're conclusively caught doing it, puts their jobs at risk) Most of the time, police will do their jobs as they were trained - by calming the situation on both sides and by asking you politely to go on your way without arguing further. It is, after all, private property. They can ask, and they have zero cause (or motivation; all that paperwork) to arrest you or hound you further if you comply. 

Keeping these procedures and tactics in mind is good preparation for doing anything weird in public. (I was present; fortunately all who were rounded up were acquitted quickly, since no laws were broken. Still, they shut down the whole 6 train in Midtown to handle this)

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NWeissman
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$64K question

What happens if try that trick it in a USPS kit?

http://tinyurl.com/446mxh9

 

Rmarcus's picture
Rmarcus
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Joined: Nov 4 2010
My Experiences with Post Offices

Most USPS offices have a decal on the doors stating that Bikes are prohibited.That said I always go with the idea of my looking like I belong and going straight in and hope for the best.

Larger PO's with a guard usually remind me of the sign and perhaps finish my business and then go and sometimes I'm stopped at the door.

On the other hand in Jamaica where I work I just go to the small PO's with no security and never have an issue.

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