One Piece of the Puzzle

Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), wrote an interesting piece for Slate titled What Would Get Americans Biking to Work? (Decent parking).

Bicycle parking is an overlooked, and often serious problem in many places where bicycle use is on the rise. Even in world-famous bike-friendly cities such as Copenhagen, bike parking is not meeting demand. From the article:

Of course, even in a bicycling paradise like Copenhagen, bicycle parking is hardly ideal. “Parking is the last great challenge in a bike culture,” as Mikael Colville-Andersen, who writes the Copenhagenize blog, told me. In its 2004 “Traffic and Environment Plan,” the city of Copenhagen, noting that bike parking wasn’t even assessed until 2001 (when it was found there were 2,900 spaces in the historic center), declared: “Only one third of cyclists are satisfied with their options for parking their bicycles and other road users, particularly walkers, are increasingly annoyed by parked cycles.”

Bike commuting rates have been directly linked to the availability of secure bike parking, so it’s imperative that bike parking is given serious consideration along with other infrastructure improvements. In many cities across the country, bicycle parking is not tied to the actual number of potential bike commuters in the area, so availability can be extremely spotty. Fortunately, we’re starting to see a few cities look at the problem more seriously, with Portland leading the way (no surprise). Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Los Angeles (among others) also have plans in the works to improve their bike parking facilities.

As important as it is, bike parking is only one piece in the bike commuting puzzle. We also need more and better separated facilities, comprehensive training programs, better integration with transit, and work-related transportation benefits on the level of what we see for motorists and transit riders.

Read the Article in Slate

8 Responses to “One Piece of the Puzzle”

  • DrMekon says:

    In Cambridge, we’re blessed with a couple of amazing cycle parks. The cycle park at Grand Arcade is world class. There’s lockers, valet parking, cycle repair, free pram hire, and there will soon be shower facilities.The park was built as part of a new shopping centre, and is reached my the same lifts and stairs that serve the car parks. At no point do you feel like a second class citizen. It’s not on the scale of the facilities in the Netherlands, but it’s lovely to use.

    Details here –

  • Chicago Rider says:

    I find it difficult to believe that Chicago plans to take bike parking seriously when it just removed 16,000 coin operated parking meters from city sidewalks. That’s a loss of 16,000 to 64,000 bike parking opportunities, depending on the neighborhood, day, and time.

  • Alan says:

    That’s too bad…

  • Darryl Jordan says:

    This is my main issue with cycling around town. Most recreational cyclists cycle from home to home, ore car back to car, and that’s it. For lifestyle cyclists, they go from home to destination, providing that the destination has someplace to park the bike. My home town of Madison is good about bike parking downtown beyond that it’s hit or miss.
    More bike parking means more bike riding.

  • Alexis says:

    I live in Portland, in one of the most bikeable dsitricts in the city and I commute to PSU, a university in the middle of the city with hundreds of bike parking spots across campus. Because the areas between the main buildings don’t allow cars (except occasional delivery, and PSU trucks) there’s a huge pedestrian walkway but still room for 20 staple racks on each side of the buildings. If PSU only had your normal sidewalks they might struggle to find a place to put the racks (which are full or close to it by 10am, especially on a sunny and mild day). I never really have problems with bike parking, except in the suburbs. And in Portland we’re actually starting to take away street parking to put in staple racks instead. They’ve done it in front of over 20 businesses, on the reqest of those businesses. One parking spot can fit 10 bicycles, which is a more efficient use of space.

  • Alan says:


    That’s awesome Alexis. Portland seems to have it all goin’ on…

  • Nathan says:

    I live outside Chicago in Illinois 2nd largest city, Aurora. The bike parking is limited to places like public parks and the library, and a few other such places downtown. The local grocery stores and other businesses don’t have any bike parking. I have written comments in the local newspaper, and talked to managers at 3 stores, to no avail. The utility biking has not made much impact in this area. A new local park was built and they didn’t even put in a bike rack for kids bikes… the designer (some one I know) said the kids don’t use them, so they just left it out. I think it’s one of those things that if the facilities exist people will use it…

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » D.C. Bike Shelter says:

    […] talked before about the importance of secure bicycle parking and I’m glad to see they’re doing something about it in Washington D.C. Just outside […]

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