Conversation with the HOA about bikes…

You know, you should be able to get in and out of your neighborhood without gates. But some people want gates. OK. But the gates should open for bikes, as they do for cars. Our gates don’t. Sometimes they used do, but then you had to know exactly where to put your wheels and it didn’t always work. Sometimes, when there were sunspots or it was too humid or whatever the cause was, you had to wait for a car to come up behind you and trigger the in-ground sensors, like so many left turn sensors in Newport Beach that will have to be upgraded with bicycle-friendly detectors as equipment is replaced. And that didn’t always happen at convenient times. Like when your kid’s trying to get to school on time.

My family knew where to put the tires, based on trial and error, but a week ago they were repairing the gate and somehow left the sensors completely inoperable by bikes. Nothing. You truly have to sit there and wait for a car to come up behind you. Or, dismount, climb the curb and go through the pedestrian gates. Or worse, and this is probably what kids do, go out the entry gate when a car comes in.

I have written the HOA before, to no avail. No response.

So I am addressing the issue again. Here’s the email chain, which I will add to as it progresses.

Forgive me if I sound pissed-off:

Hi [deleted],

As of a week ago the exit gate from our community does not open for bikes. No matter where you put your bike wheels, the ground sensors no longer work for bikes. It was already pretty bad and you had to know exactly where to put your bike to trigger the exit gate to open, but now it absolutely does not open for bikes. 

This is very dangerous, aside from the inconvenience!

A bike rider has to dismount and walk through the planters to get out of the gate or wait for a car to come up behind him to trigger the sensors in the ground.

Can you you please tell me this will be treated with urgency? It is not a matter of convenience. It is a very important safety issue. Imagine my 11 year old sitting there at the gate as he pedals to school in the morning, stuck at the malfunctioning gate, deciding whether to climb the curb, wait for a car to come up behind him or – worse and apparently what a lot of cyclists are now doing – exiting the entry gate when a car comes in…

Again, please come back to me urgently. If I do not hear from you, I will contact the fire department and any other agencies that should know about the safety issue. I don’t mean that as a threat – I am just disappointed my earlier complaints about the gate not readily recognizing bikes were never responded to. I found that insulting as a resident and a cyclist and especially as the parent of a child who rides bikes (one of many, many kids in our community).

Please feel free to pass on my contact details to anyone who needs to understand the issue. I will also be glad to help test the system.

Yours sincerely,


The HOA’s management company responded:

Mr. Huntsman,

Thanks you for raising this issue again.  I will forward your concerns to the Board of Directors.  In the meantime, I recommend that you and your family walk bicycles out the pedestrian gate for safety.  The vehicle gates are for made and designed for motor vehicles, not bicycles.


[deleted], CCAM | Community Association Manager

And so I wrote back:

Thanks Kevin,

I believe it when you say the gates were designed for cars. But that would have been a shortsighted mistake on the part of the planners and builders and it really needs to be corrected. The gates should have been designed to accommodate all street legal vehicles that would normally be used by residents. It’s not like we’re asking for trees trimmed to accommodate an 18-wheel truck or something.

All it will take is installing sensors that are sensitive enough to recognize bikes. Or at least adjusting the current sensors to the most sensitive setting and see if that works.

I hope this gets resolved quickly. Bicycles are supposed to be in the road. It is not practical for cyclists to dismount and use the gate. Especially kids with backpacks or my wife and I with bikes laden with baskets full of groceries. No cyclist would anticipate needing to “walk bicycles out the pedestrian gate” in order to exit and the hazard will remain until the gates. In any case the sidewalks inside the pedestrian gates are narrow and – especially at the times we use the gates (before and after school, in the evening when people go for walks with dogs) – there are pedestrians there who would not appreciate bicycles on the sidewalk.

Yours sincerely,


To which the HOA’s management company responded:

Mr. Huntsman,

Thanks again, and I will let the board know your thoughts at the next meeting.
I suggest attending the next Board of Directors meeting Monday, November 25th at 6:30 and you can have an opportunity to share your thoughts directly with the board.  The Board can decide if they want to pursue these kinds of changes.


[deleted], CCAM | Community Association Manager

Well, guess what. Waiting until November 25th to complain isn’t going to cut it. I’m going to check around and find out what the HOA’s obligations are here.

I’ll post updates to this evolving story.

In the meantime, are you stuck with gates that don’t recognize bikes? At home or at work? Let me know. I’m curious to see how common a problem this is.