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There are now so many people using their bikes as transportation in Los Angeles that we actually have a parking problem. A number of businesses (notably independent cafes and restaurants) have installed bike parking in front of their doors. I suspect this has been invaluable in helping them survive the recession.

Anyway, I've been wondering whether the owners put up bike racks to attract more bike commuting customers, or whether they did it because many of their customers were bikers already.

Which came first? And could anybody build up their business by showing that they're edgy, forward-looking and ecologically aware by catering more to bike riders?

My battered old Ortlieb panniers are still holding out, after more than 5 years of almost daily use. Someone at the coffee shop this morning asked me about them, and had similar luck with his own panniers.

This is something I love about the bicycle industry. There are so many good companies that really care about what they do. A lot of gear is built to perform, and built to last.

So many other industries produce crap that wears out fast, relying on planned obsolescence to keep their profits coming. Chalk this up as another sustainability benefit of bike commuting and bike travel. More greenbelt, less landfill.