Still reeling from my last experience in Waitrose car park I went there again the other day.
On the scooter.
This was only the second time I had parked in a barrier-operated car park with the scooter, so I’m still learning the ropes. The first time was at London’s Olympia exhibition halls, and that worked well because not only do they have a distinct policy for motorcycles, they also have a telephone booking line that I could call to get the low-down before I showed up.
At Olympia motorcycles can park for free (this is what I like!). The guy on the phone told me to use the car entrance and instead of taking a ticket to ride around the end of the wooden barrier (there is just enough space to do this). He even told me where the motorcycle spaces were. Great!
At Waitrose it was a very different story. Here they seem to have never heard of motorcycles; the looks I inspired from the staff would have made an alien feel self-conscious. I rode in the (only) entrance and found the usual single-bar wooden barrier and ticket machine. There was no sign anywhere detailing their motorcycle policy, so I repeated the Olympia practice and rode around the end of the barrier without taking a ticket. I cruised around the dingy, low-ceilinged car park looking for the designated motorcycle spaces. There were none, so I asked an attendant who was collecting trolleys. He cast around as if he’d never even come close to contemplating the question before, let alone being asked it, and eventually told me to park “over there in the corner”, indicating a small triangular space by the wall: the difference between the end of the marked bays and the physical space available. I parked up and did my shopping.
When I came out I started fretting about getting out of the car park. The exit barrier has (sometimes) an attendant who physically checks (sometimes) your ticket to make sure it’s validated. I had no ticket, validated or otherwise. Also I had no idea whether the exit barrier had a gap I’d be able to get around, and suddenly I had visions of being stuck at the barrier arguing with the attendant, while a long line of cars formed behind me, honking their horns and scoffing at the nutter on two wheels who’s strayed into the Domain Of The Car. I thought I’d better check the situation out before riding there, so I walked to the exit and asked the attendant how we should deal with the situation.
“What’s your motorcycle policy?”
“Well in other places they just let you ride around the barrier. I haven’t got a ticket.”
“Erm. OK then.”
I returned to my bike and rode towards the exit. I started to negogiate the end of the barrier (as we’d agreed), but then he pressed the button to lift it. Whether this was out of courtesy or job protection I’ll never know, but I was out and free.
I think I’m going to persevere with this. I’ll either end up being responsible for Waitrose implementing a nationwide motorcycle parking scheme or as the Finchley Rd Scooter Loony who keeps asking how to get in and out of the same car park.