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Bicycle Parking

Secure bicycle parking at likely destinations is an integral part of any bikeway network. In recent years, bicycling has grown in popularity not only for recreational purposes, but also as an alternative mode of transportation to work, school, shopping, and other activities. Bicycle riders, however, consistently cite a lack of secure parking facilities as a major barrier to encouraging more ridership for these purposes. It is estimated that over 1.5 million bicycles nationwide are stolen every year. The availability of safe and convenient parking facilities is critical for encouraging biking in North Central Texas.

Similar to motorists, ample parking can give bicyclists peace of mind that space will be available when they arrive at their destination. The same consideration should therefore be given to bicyclists as to motorists, who expect convenient and secure parking at all destinations. The International Bicycle Fund lists the characteristics of a successful bike parking facility. These include:

  • Visibility
  • Access
  • Security
  • Lighting
  • Weather Protection

Additionally, bicycle parking should not interfere with automobile or pedestrian movement.

In 2015, the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) issued the Essentials of Bike Parking: Selecting and Installing Bike Parking That Works (2015) to provide guidance for bicycle parking site planning, rack-selection, placement and spacing, and installation.

In 2010, the APBP issued its Second Edition of Bicycle Parking Guidelines to provide guidance on a number of issues including bike rack and locker design and placement, bike parking facility maintenance, parking requirements related to different land uses, costs associated with various types of parking facilities, and other topics. This resource provides a comprehensive, rider-oriented approach to developing high quality bike parking facilities, and is available for purchase from APBP.  The 2002 first edition may be downloaded here.  

A variety of designs are available for bicycle parking facilities. Effective bicycle racks should support the bicycle upright by its frame in two places and enable the frame and one or both wheels to be secured. Inverted U racks and post-and-ring racks are popular and cost-effective designs that achieve these requirements for security and ease of use. Other design examples like “wave,” “comb,” and “toast” racks do not support the bike upright at two points and often cannot accommodate secure storage for multiple bikes. These designs are not recommended.


non-secure bike parking U Rack design

This photo from illustrates how racks that do not support the bicycle frame upright at two locations do not provide secure parking.

This photo from the City of Denver Bike Parking website shows proper use of the inverted U rack design.  Racks should be installed in the perpendicular configuration shown in the photo to maximize the number of bicycles that can be accommodated.

Another important consideration when providing bicycle parking is short-term versus long-term requirements. Short-term bicycle parking (typically two hours or less) usually employs the rack designs mentioned above. As a rule of thumb, these racks should be placed within 50 feet of the facility they are intended to serve. Locating adequate parking near entrances and providing a high level of visibility will not only encourage bicyclists to use them, it can also discourage people from locking bikes to other objects, and inhibit theft. Long-term parking, on the other hand, places less emphasis on convenience and more importance on security. For all day or overnight parking, facilities like individual bike lockers or enclosed rack areas are ideal.    


bike locker bike covers

Example of a secure bike locker for long-term parking.

Example of covered bicycle parking facilities.

Providing high quality bicycle parking facilities does much more than simply encourage people to bike. Well-designed parking facilities help improve the streetscape by discouraging riders from locking bikes to trees and street furniture and thereby reducing damage to those amenities.  The presence of bicycle parking facilities can also improve accessibility to local businesses in areas that support multiple modes of transportation. Some local governments provide economic development tools, and businesses work with cities to purchase approved “theme” racks to promote neighborhood characteristics or specific retail opportunities.

coffee cup rack

Photo of a coffee cup bicycle rack in Middleton WI.
(Source: Bikeitecture's Blog,

Links and Resources:
The Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) seeks to grow awareness of the bicycle and pedestrian planning profession through sharing knowledge and developing skills among professionals.  APBP’s website includes findings from technical reports on a variety of topics in the bicycle and pedestrian realm such as bicycle parking and maintains an updates list of useful webinars and other learning resources.

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center has a helpful page on bicycle parking that offers solutions to bicycle parking issues, from planning and design to signage and cost estimates.

The International Bicycle Fund (IBF) also offers guidelines for implementing successful bicycle parking facilities. 

The City of Chicago’s Bike Parking page provides general information on bicycle parking facilities as well as tips for theft prevention, bike parking for businesses, and other best practices.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's Bicycle Parking page has useful information for bike parking and theft prevention.  In addition, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has information for bicycle commuting, including for how to integrate bike parking into office buildings.


2/29/2016  08/06/2012 bw

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