DC Establishments that Accommodate Bromptons (Last updated: November 2014)

One of the pluses you'll see online about getting a folding bike is that you never have to worry about parking it, since you can always bring it in with you. However, this may not always be the case, and you're stuck either locking the bike outside (if you brought a lock), or finding a new place to go to altogether. Sometime's I'll call ahead of time if I think there might be an issue. Here's a running list of places I've either been allowed to take the bike, or run into problems:

Explicitly Permitted

  • Firefly (July 2013): I was meeting a former colleague for brunch and wanted to take my Brompton. I called before making reservations to make sure it was a place that would let me check it, or would keep it locked up for me. They were really cool about it and said it would be fine. In the end I actually took the Globe instead and locked it up outside (although it was a block away, as there wasn't any closer bike parking when I went).

No Questions Asked

  • Ace Hardware (Tenleytown) (June 2014): It's not really surprising for a hardware store to be fine with a bike, especially a folding bike, but this place is notable because it's a tiny with tight aisles and corners, and I rolled my bike in unfolded. I felt a little bad not folding up, but I had my front basket on and was carrying a trash can, so I thought I would try it. I probably won't do it again, but I appreciated being able to do it once.
  • Baked & Wired (multiple visits): Typically crowded, but both times I've brought my bike in while getting coffee, nobody's stopped me. I try to be mindful of other patrons and keep my bike out of people's way, and there's a little spot right by the door where I can stick my bike while I sit in the bar area by the cupcakes.
  • Ethiopic Restaurant (August 2014): My friends wanted to meet at this place. I thought about calling ahead, but figured I would just show up, and hope for the best. Not only did the host hold the door open for me, he pointed out a secure spot next to his lectern where I could keep my bike.
  • Pete's Apizza (multiple visits): D and I have been here twice now with our bikes; once we went late and once we were there during the dinner rush. Both times we took our bikes through the line and sat at inside tables with the bikes next to us. We watched to make sure nobody would trip over our bikes, though one very curious little boy couldn't stop himself from coming over and touching D's bike.
  • Open City (multiple visits): D and I asked for an outside table, and pointed out the one we thought would give us the most room for our bikes. The wait staff obliged. We've also sat inside, and one of the waiters though the bikes were so cool that he took a picture.
  • Peregrine Espresso (14th St. NW) (November 2014): Lots of foot traffic and not much seating, but if you're lucky enough to score one of the tables by the windows, there's ample room to keep a Brompton by your feet without tripping anyone up.  
  • Tryst (October 2014): Another crowded coffee shop. Although nobody had a problem with my bike indoors, it's not easy to get too far in the shop given the lines of people waiting to order for coffee. However, they have a patio and table service so that makes it easier to sit have the bike with you.
  • Whole Foods (Friendship Heights) (multiple visits): Since I got my folding bike basket I've used my bike in shopping cart mode a couple of times. Before that I would wheel it around, and D's even stuck it in an actual shopping cart (it's a little unwieldy this way)
  • Zorba's Cafe (July 2014): There's actually a sign that explicitly states something about bikes (and dogs) not being allowed--maybe that you can't attach them to the railing? But I did fold up my bike and nobody stopped me from bringing it inside. I would have sat outside, actually, except that it was a gorgeous day so everybody else wanted to sit outside too. Anyway, maybe they wouldn't have been too happy if there wasn't enough seating, but the main dining room downstairs had plenty of room.

Not Permitted

  • Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History (July 2013): I was going there with my colleagues during a nice day so I wanted to ride the Brompton, but because it's a museum I called them first. Eventually they put me in touch with security, who was very clear that I couldn't coat check it or anything similar. Oh well, at least it was a nice day and I had a nice walk. Maybe I'll call again in the future.

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