Charging in Public

dblhelix

Active Member
I generally ask for permission unless it’s the type of place where everyone is plugged in: Internet cafe, etc. On a recent route x-country, most charging pauses were uneventful with five exceptions:

- an elderly woman expressed her fear of the blinking battery and questioned if it could be a bomb. I’d gone to the restroom when she happened on the Bosch battery pack. Mitigating factor: near Shanksville PA (Flight 93) at the time, and we have a strong “see something, say something” culture in the NE. (PA)

- at an Internet cafe with a small elevated (6”) stage for performing arts, I needed to use the outlet to the right of the platform. Once again, while I was in the restroom, a barista type scooped up the charger/battery and put it away. “Is that big gray box yours? I thought it belonged to the band that was here last night.” (MD)

Stuff happens when you go to the restroom but read on ....

- Santa Cruz Starbucks. I was at a table, charging. Across from me, a homeless man with multiple bags packed with stuff like prescription bottles, items from local trash and so on. He was charging multiple I devices like phone, power pack for small devices, etc. He was muttering under his breath and staring at me the entire time. Finally he yelled out: “Greedy M’f***ers who won’t charge their sh*t at home.” (CA)

- Mountain West, sparsely populated. Stopped at a small town grocery-style store and asked if I could use an outlet. The manager walked with me around the store but all outlets were in use for promotional material, coolers and so on. “I know,” she said, and plugged me in on a cord that was at the feet of the store cashier. The green light started flashing. Twenty minutes later, I was asked “Are you done?” (UT)

- I stopped in a DQ in Iowa. Alas, no outlets that I could find. I asked a young man behind the counter if I’d missed an outlet. He left his station and walked to a very large freezer chest crammed with DQ ice cream products. He started pushing. “Wait a second,” I said, “No need. That looks heavy.” “Uuuuuugh, no problem, uuuuugh,” as he kept pushing. Lo and behold, one receptacle was free. Later, I asked him if he needed help putting the freezer back in place. “No, but thank you for asking,” he responded. I don ‘t know what I did to deserve him. (IA)
 

Attachments

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Other than in hotel rooms, I've only had to charge in public on one occasion. When I first got my ebike, I rode a trail along the Susquehanna River here in NE PA. I hadn't yet learned the trick to using the battery meter and rode down river until it showed I was down to 50%. I turned around and got 3/4 of the way back when the meter went into the red zone indicating < 10% charge remaining. There was a picnic area next to the trail with a gazebo that had a power outlet. Fearing I wouldn't have enough juice to get back to my truck, I plugged in and ate lunch to kill some time. After a half hour, the park police showed up and asked what I was doing. My explanation satisfied them and they resumed their patrol. A couple of dog walkers were also curious but no complaints. After 45 minutes, the charge went from 10% to 26% which was more than enough to get back.

I almost always carry a spare battery now and leave the charger home. I've also learned how to better manage my wattage.
 

dblhelix

Active Member
Other than in hotel rooms, I've only had to charge in public on one occasion. When I first got my ebike, I rode a trail along the Susquehanna River here in NE PA. I hadn't yet learned the trick to using the battery meter and rode down river until it showed I was down to 50%. I turned around and got 3/4 of the way back when the meter went into the red zone indicating < 10% charge remaining. There was a picnic area next to the trail with a gazebo that had a power outlet. Fearing I wouldn't have enough juice to get back to my truck, I plugged in and ate lunch to kill some time. After a half hour, the park police showed up and asked what I was doing. My explanation satisfied them and they resumed their patrol. A couple of dog walkers were also curious but no complaints. After 45 minutes, the charge went from 10% to 26% which was more than enough to get back.

I almost always carry a spare battery now and leave the charger home. I've also learned how to better manage my wattage.
The whole gazebo thing is such an open question. There’s never a sign detailing what is permitted. Nobody ever knows what the policy is either, so you get opinions ranging from “it’s hot and in public, fair game” to “dunno if it’s stealing.” I was in a small town in OH with a nice gazebo full of live outlets. I asked everywhere. Somebody gave me the # for the city manager. I called and left a message that I would be in the park charging, and if problem to please call me back. Radio silence.
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
My go-tos in decreasing order are:
  • Picnic shelters in public parks. At least in the PNW a lot of them are obviously set up for the public to use the outlets. I've never, ever had a problem.
  • Coin-op laundries. You're going to be there a while anyway and they almost always have plenty of outlets available so it just makes sense.
  • Restaurants. I prefer a more traditional type restaurant to a fast-food place or a Starbuck's, if only because there is less traffic and management is less likely to overrule the waitstaff if they allow you to charge there.
I did get chased out of one Starbucks when an idiot employee accused me of "stealing their electricity". When I pointed out that I had tipped $1.50 on a $4 drink and that it would be impossible for me to "steal" more than $0.05 worth of electricity in the time I was there, and I had asked and received permission so it couldn't possibly be stealing he just started yelling more loudly at me.
 

dblhelix

Active Member
My go-tos in decreasing order are:
  • Picnic shelters in public parks. At least in the PNW a lot of them are obviously set up for the public to use the outlets. I've never, ever had a problem.
  • Coin-op laundries. You're going to be there a while anyway and they almost always have plenty of outlets available so it just makes sense.
  • Restaurants. I prefer a more traditional type restaurant to a fast-food place or a Starbuck's, if only because there is less traffic and management is less likely to overrule the waitstaff if they allow you to charge there.
I did get chased out of one Starbucks when an idiot employee accused me of "stealing their electricity". When I pointed out that I had tipped $1.50 on a $4 drink and that it would be impossible for me to "steal" more than $0.05 worth of electricity in the time I was there, and I had asked and received permission so it couldn't possibly be stealing he just started yelling more loudly at me.
Starbucks is definitely taking a turn for the worse. Along coastal CA, one location after the other was “remodeling” which meant plating over outlets in response to the homeless. Other businesses in the area did the same, along with other measures. Laundromats are also a favorite charging spot for the homeless, so the solid plates are increasing n number there as well.

I had an easier time charging in the Sierras as compared to the coast. The hiker-biker sites in state parks generally did not have outlets on posts. Even outlets in restrooms were hit-or-miss. I actually preferred the state parks w/o restroom outlets bc I grew weary of seeing guys biike in at 4 a.m. to check for iPhones charging overnight. One tourer had his power pack (for mobile devices) pinched at
Pfeifer (Big Sur) while he showered nearby.
 

Highway550

Member
When touring, to help with 'range anxiety', I often stop for a "recharge"at a local cafes ... I ask if it is okay to charge up a battery while I eat and rechange myself.... and I have never had anyone say no.
I sometimes stop at LBS's and purchase something and ask if I can charge my battery while I go get lunch or walk about the town to look around... and I never had anyone say no.
On the Katy Trail once, I did charge the battery using an outlet at a Trail Head while I waited for the rain to stop... but not all Trail Heads have electric outlets.

Having two batteries would be nice ...
 

Attachments

Saratoga Dave

Well-Known Member
Cafe or pizza joint fan, ask permission and no problem ever. In our neck of the woods, the Stewart’s convenience store chain is terrific.

Gazebos in public parks? Paid for by taxpayers. Me = taxpayer. If they’re live, they’re fair game. If you want to restrict them, turn them off except for events.
 

dblhelix

Active Member
Gazebos in public parks? Paid for by taxpayers.
My sense is that it’s ok for locals to plug in but might be touchy for ‘outsiders.’ Never an issue in communities on bike paths/trails but more insular communities -> tread lightly. There’s also resentment over tax dollars spent on bike paths/trails/resources “when our roads are so bad.”
 

Dionigi

Well-Known Member
Starbucks is definitely taking a turn for the worse. Along coastal CA, one location after the other was “remodeling” which meant plating over outlets in response to the homeless. Other businesses in the area did the same, along with other measures. Laundromats are also a favorite charging spot for the homeless, so the solid plates are increasing n number there as well.

I had an easier time charging in the Sierras as compared to the coast. The hiker-biker sites in state parks generally did not have outlets on posts. Even outlets in restrooms were hit-or-miss. I actually preferred the state parks w/o restroom outlets bc I grew weary of seeing guys biike in at 4 a.m. to check for iPhones charging overnight. One tourer had his power pack (for mobile devices) pinched at
Pfeifer (Big Sur) while he showered nearby.
[/QUOTE
The Starbucks on Pacific Ave and Ocean St in Santa Cruz have become the epicenter for the homeless. The homeless situation in Santa Cruz is completely out of control. Myself and the majority of the Santa Cruz community are socially very liberal but have grown frustrated with how the community is becoming unsafe. Not being able to charge your battery falls inline with finding needles in your yard and human feces between parked cars. Next time try the UCSC campus (go Banana Slugs) or Kelly’s on the west side.
 

dblhelix

Active Member
A grizzled tourer commented that he’s ridden through the poorest provinces in China yet never felt as unsafe as he did that week on the CA coast. Thanks for the tips.
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
Why oh why did my insane brain see "Changing in public" as the title?
:rolleyes: :eek:

It's only one letter!!! 🤣
Go on a long trip and you'll be skinning out in public more than you ever imagined.

Speaking as an experienced distance hiker and cycling tourist, traditional body modesty rules usually last less than a week before getting tossed out the window, if there were windows.
 

DaveMatthews

Well-Known Member
Go on a long trip and you'll be skinning out in public more than you ever imagined.

Speaking as an experienced distance hiker and cycling tourist, traditional body modesty rules usually last less than a week before getting tossed out the window, if there were windows.
Point taken sir!
 

dblhelix

Active Member
Go on a long trip and you'll be skinning out in public more than you ever imagined.

Speaking as an experienced distance hiker and cycling tourist, traditional body modesty rules usually last less than a week before getting tossed out the window, if there were windows.
What happens in the woods, stays in the woods.
 

BBassett

Active Member
I over-estimated my input once and didn't want to deplete my pack with 20 miles and one heart-stopping hill left so I stopped at a car dealership and asked to use an outlet. I had already scoped out an outside outlet that would let me charge without removing the battery. A couple of the sales guys told me to bring it inside to charge... I pointed out the plug I had already found and they told me to have at it. I got the bike and trailer situated out of everybody's way, set the Satiator to fast charge at 5 amps, went inside and washed up, pulled out a chair and had a late lunch, cleaned up, brushed my teeth inside, checked the tire pressure, waxed the chain, and then took $22 dollars from the "guys" (one was a chick... probably the best salesperson there) in a poker game going on in the back. An hour and a half later I was heading out with more than enough charge to cover the distance, a full'ish belly, clean face, neck, arms, combed hair (I almost Never take my helmet off in the middle of a ride), fresh-water, and $22 dollars to boot. When I got back I found one of Jasmines cards tucked into a jacket pocket. And that's why she sells more cars than the guys, always thinkin'.
 

Captain Slow

Active Member
A grizzled tourer commented that he’s ridden through the poorest provinces in China yet never felt as unsafe as he did that week on the CA coast. Thanks for the tips.
Because of roads and traffic or was it hostility over charging in public? I'm guessing the former, but this thread is about charging in public so I'm wondering.
 

dblhelix

Active Member
Because of roads and traffic or was it hostility over charging in public? I'm guessing the former, but this thread is about charging in public so I'm wondering.
Neither. He was referring to the shady characters hanging out by the restrooms looking for plugged-in electronic devices to steal. I also met someone who was attacked while trying to retrieve his own stuff while charging at a restroom outlet.