Bike Parking

The 2007 New York City Bicycle Survey lists a lack of secure bike parking as one of the main reasons people don’t commute by bike. While having a safe place to store a bicycle is certainly important to any bike commuter, bike parking and storage is an issue for everyday utility bicyclists as well.

Our city has made great progress developing off-street bike paths and extending our network of on-street bike lanes, but one area that has been overlooked is bike parking. Because shopping destinations are on private property, development of bike parking facilities is left to private developers and decisions on what type of facilities will be built are made on an individual basis. The outcome of this scattershot approach has not been good.

The bike parking facilities at many of our local shopping areas are inconsistent at best and non-existent at worst. Many of the bike racks are poorly designed and are likely to damage bicycles. Often there are not enough spaces. It’s not uncommon to see bikes carelessly leaned against other bikes with little regard for damage. In many locations bike racks are completely absent and bicyclists are left to fend for themselves, locking up to stair rails, sign posts, benches, or whatever immovable object is close at hand.

What we need are standard recommendations for bike parking facilities that tie-in with the development of other facilities such as bike lanes and off-street bike paths. Allowing developers to decide what type of bike parking is required is almost a guarantee that the facilities will be underfunded and inadequate.

How are the bike parking facilities at the areas where you shop?

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Does the availability of quality bike parking have a bearing on where you shop?

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19 Responses to “Bike Parking”

  • Nick says:

    Her in Victoria, bike parking is abundant in some places and non-existent in others. In the downtown area, where there are probably more bike racks than in most cities its size but still an insufficient quantity for the number of cyclists, the city council has just spent $x,000,000 to replace all the sing-head parking meters for cars with big, beautiful blue terminals on the sidewalks that serve a dozen or so parking stalls. This has, not legally but practically, taken away the vast majority of parking options for cyclists. There are many streets with rows of parking meters for parked cars but no bike racks. Now there are no places to park. I think an investment of $x,000,000 for bicycle parking is now called for!

  • cb says:

    The bike parking where I shop tends to be adequate, because available bike parking tends to dictate where I shop. There are two coffee shops basically equidistant from where I live. One has a huge bicycle rack to park on, and one has only traffic signs to lock a bike to. I go to the one with actual parking 99% of the time.

    I guess I consider it another opportunity to vote with your dollars, you know?

  • Alan says:

    I added a second poll question that has a bearing on the first question.


  • Sharper says:

    I tend to subscribe to the “be a jerk” method of bike parking. I’ll shop where I want, and park my bike at the most convenient and atrociously visible place I can without obstructing access. If a restaurateur or business owner doesn’t like me lashing my bike to the fancy wrought iron fence on their sidewalk patio, their options are either to live with it, ask me to take my business elsewhere, or install a bike parking rack. I don’t seem to be alone in use of this method, either.

    Fortunately, Sacramento’s really been addressing the bike parking issue in its central area. When it replaced its parking meters with terminals of the sort Nick mentioned, it replaced the meters with bike parking stands. And it recently developed its own program to roll out bike parking with subsidies and a city-designed rack. Kudos!

  • Larey says:

    I shop where I can park.

    I was chatting with the assistant mgr of a grocery store that has one little pathetic wheel bender rack that they might get more business if they had better bike parking. He said that the cost of putting in decent racks would never be repaid by the volume of business they would generate, even if the bike rack was always full, because people on bikes don’t buy large quantities. I don’t shop there much anymore.

    I guess the same could be said of wheel chair accessible spaces, but business provide them anyway.

  • Joel van Allen says:

    Honolulu requires a bit of hide-and-seek for established bike parking along public streets; however, private businesses in this city offer little if any parking opportunities whatsoever. Even my local 24-hour Fitness– proselytizing a switch to a “healthier” lifestyle– offered me only a small, delapidated and unanchored bike rack sandwiched between a shady pool hall and a garbage dumpster in a poorly lit area on the third floor of its massive parking structure. Interestingly, the Chinatown district offers more public bike parking than I’ve seen anywhere else in the city. It’s a part of town that, like many Chinatowns elsewhere in the U.S., reflects a culturally and historically contingent social consciousness and sense of space noticeably different than the frontierless land-grab mentality of wide roads and wide-open spaces in many cities west of the Mississippi. Consequently, Honolulu’s Chinatown is a lively, bustling little area of narrow shop-lined streets with metered parking, but never an empty parking space. The widest road is the two-lane bus mall, which is designated for busses and bicycles only. Anyone else wanting to find a parking space in a reasonable amount of time heavily dependent on nearby parking lots or multi-storey structures. I’ve begun noticing signs for free bicycle valet parking at a local parking structure in that area, although I have yet to check it out. Strangely enough, I’d give my car (if I owned one) to a stranger even if he charged me a few bucks, but my bike… not even for free, pal.

  • Shane says:

    I live in Eugene, Oregon – long known as a bike friendly city. While there are a smattering of bike paths around town and I can get almost anywhere, it’s ironic that the local community college has some of the worst bike parking facilities. Bikes are both eco friendly and a low cost transportation option. Facilitating this very low cost transportation would help improve access to this college. The local university, which likely attracts those with more dollars, has extensive parking available. One comment was that “no one bikes here.” Could a lack of parking play a role? Probably.

    Removing the barriers and increasing those factors which facilitate biking will help increase ridership and bring the related environmental, social, and health related benefits. Where the organization spends it’s dollars says something about it’s values. What is this college communicating? What impact does this message have on those attending the college and what they learn?

    This college has several hundred car parking spaces and only a handfull of bike parking locations. What’s the cost of one car parking space? What’s the impact of facilitating driving? Now how many bike parking spaces would that buy, and what would be the impact of that action?

  • dukiebiddle says:

    I guess the same could be said of wheel chair accessible spaces, but business provide them anyway.

    A very good point, but the business does not install wheel chair accessible spaces because of the huge profit margins of selling to seniors, they do it because they are legally required to install x number of wheel chair accessible spaces for y number of regular spaces, which local governments will have to do before you’ll see a significant number of bike parking facilities in front of businesses. The store manager made a very good point, which is why businesses, with the exception of a few bike friendly ones, will never be won over without legal demands.

    For the most part I park wherever I can, be it against a railing, shopping cart staples, a sign or even a bike rack. Living in a city there is always something secure I can lock my bike to within a third of a block. The only place that infuriates me for not having enough bicycle parking is the Whole Foods, which is a giant exploitive sham of a socially conscious business anyway. Their bread and butter is manipulating us bicycling types into believing they’re a different kind of business (they’re not), and then they don’t even pretend to install enough racks for their underpaid, underinsured employees. Sorry, I’m ranting off topic. Suffice to say, if you are going to pretend to be a socially conscious business, install enough bike racks. Otherwise, I’ll continue to do my shopping at the less pretentious, less manipulative businesses that pay their employees more, insure their employees better, and sell their equal products for 30% less.

  • PJ says:

    I have always found that if I really need or want need something I will find a place to lock up my bike and it doesn’t stop me from going there.
    On the other hand my wife and I shop for food a lot, I would say we go to the store daily and sometimes twice a day instead of doing a big weekly trip to the store. We don’t have kids (extra time) and it gives us a reason to ride our bikes and be social. For these daily trips to the store bike parking does play a roll in where I shop. If I can get the same thing at two stores I will easily go to the store where it is easier to park my bike. In my mind it is the same thing as driving, just a lot less folks on bikes so stores don’t feel the loss of traffic.

  • Tom says:

    Developers only care about the bottom line. If there were no codes, then we not have things like fire-escapes, side walks, handicap access, trees, and would still be using asbestos insulation. Developers are typically fly-by-night and don’t care the slightest about livable sustainable communities.

    The root of the problem is the politicians who make the codes for the developers. What bike advocates need is voting records and political positions of politicians regarding bike access and safety. Then an organized effort to vote out the ones that do not support biking. This is what smart savvy groups do (like developers). I’m sure there are efforts in this direction, but sometimes its hard to tell if we are getting any results when you can’t even find a rack to park your bike.

  • John says:

    Here in Dublin Ireland it was terrible but gradually getting better now that the City Council is slowly improving the Infrastructure. There is a certain amount of Parking in most areas on the different Streets,some Streets are better than others. Now we have the Bike Vélib (dublin .ie )of 450 Bikes and it has caught on in a big way and they will get more Bikes after awhile.

    They have promised us a better Infrastructure with more Dedicated Bike Lanes. Also they have removed 16 Car Parking Spaces in a Municipal Multi Story Public Carpark on Drury Street and put in Parking Racks for 200 Bikes on the South side of the City. This is not far from the Best Department Stores. They will do the same on the North Side as well they said.
    A lot of Companies now provide Parking for their Employee’s Bikes with some in a Sheltered Place like a Building. This is not the Netherlands we have a long way to go to catch up we have a lot of very narrow Cycle Lanes Painted on the Roads very similar to Britain’s.

    Most Supermarkets have big Carparks but very few Racks for Bikes to Park they normally have only two Racks with Parking for 8 Bikes and People Chain their Bikes to the Street Furniture like Poles in the Carparks and any Projections hanging out of the Supermarket Buildings.

  • Mr. CrankyPants says:

    The grocery store I shop at has very user friendly bike parking. The rack is the sturdy, cemented into the ground noodle type, it’s located right out in front (in plain sight of the customer service desk), it’s well light and it even has a roof over it :)

    The local convenience store has an OK bike rack, but it’s located around the side of the building, almost in back. While the footpath does enter the parking lot near it, it’s still too out of sight to be really secure in my opinion.

    The two big box home improvement stores are…odd, to say the least. They have good sturdy noodle style bike racks but there’s usually so much excess inventory stacked up around them actually getting your bike to the rack is a challenge.

    But the bike parking where I work is another story – it’s pure luxury! Heated indoor storage, card key access, security cameras and it’s part of the security guards regular walk through. Each bike has it’s own hook so there’s little chance of bent wheels, gouged paint etc. We also have lockers, showers and a community tool box. I consider myself very fortunate.

  • doug says:

    I happen to do most of my shopping where I work — a co-op supermarket in Seattle. The parking there is pretty nice: two large racks directly in front. Recently the city came and installed two more smaller ones. On any given Sunday there are easily ten or fifteen bikes parked out there all day long. More often though, I will go out and count seven bikes that belong to my fellow co-workers. Then in the indoor employee bike area there will three or four more.

    Otherwise, the parking in Seattle is pretty good. It’s obvious that the city has been spending a lot of money on bikes — new racks everywhere. Of course, some neighborhoods are better than others. Some, like Capitol Hill or Fremont, are rife, while others, like the Central District where I live, are less than ideal.

    Fortunately, I have no problem locking my bike to anything that is handy. I do refuse to lock to unsecured racks, however. It might not make a difference, though: I once heard a story about a crew of bike thieves who dressed up like city workers in Seattle. They would stop at a rack, spend half an hour removing it, and then load it into their truck, bikes still attached. Crazy.

  • linda says:

    I were in Barcelona for holidays, and I discovered a great idea for safety bike parking, it´s called biceberg. It´s an automated parking system for bikes, you can keep your bike and all the other things that you need: backpack,gloves…, it´s very easy to use and it´s free!!!I can´t believe that biceberg don´t be install in all cities.If you want learn more:

  • jamesmallon says:

    Toronto’s so pathetic for bike theft, I shop where I can bring the bike in with me, or I can walk from home, period. I don’t leave my bike locked anywhere in a town where the cops did nothing for a decade about a guy selling crack for bikes from his shop on one of our main downtown shopping streets (Igor Kenk – hoarded 3000 bikes, and sold who knows?).

    Mind you, I don’t take our transit unless I have to, because it blows too.

    Never bother visiting Toronto, trust me.

  • steve says:

    Here in the Phoenix metropolitan area each municipality has specific requirements for bicycle parking. But the only real bicycle environment is in and around Arizona State University which is in Tempe, AZ. The biggest problem is that at most stores and shopping centers, the bicycle parking spaces are located so that a parked bicycle will conflict with the access path to the front door, or the bicycle parking spaces will be inconveniently located out of the view from the front of the store.

  • JaFO says:

    IF you think that parking a ‘normal’ bike is tough … try owning a recumbent, velomobile or a trike.

    Most parking-spaces assume that you’ve got a regular-sized standard upright bike.
    Anything else is pretty much involves hoping none of the other cyclists damage your bike.

    You could try to be a little creative when parking your bike :


  • cb says:

    Check out the first rack on this blog post from Sacramento. That looks like some innovative bike parking! Not much way for the bikes to ding against each other at all, eh?

    And the Italian restaurant where they are located offers a discount for cyclists?

    Yeah, I’d be patronizing that establishment more than I would otherwise.

  • cb says:


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