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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations
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Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-05-117
Date: July 2006
Federal Highway Administration University Course on Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation
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LESSON 17: BICYCLE PARKING AND STORAGE
Bicycle parking is an important supporting element in bicycle programs. Quite simply, bicyclists need a safe and convenient place to park or store their bicycles along or at the end of most trips. This lesson contains the following information on developing an effective bicycle parking program: basic bicycle parking strategies; bicycle rack designs, specifications, and costs; and bicycle parking ordinances. The major sections of this lesson are as follows:
This lesson on bicycle parking and storage has been primarily derived from the "Bicycle Parking" chapter of Implementing Bicycle Improvements at the Local Level.(1) Other sources of information are listed at the end of the lesson.
17.2 Overview of the Problem
Providing secure bicycle parking is a key ingredient in efforts to encourage bicycling at the local level (see figure 17-1). Many bicycle trips end somewhere other than the bicyclist’s home, and as a result, the bicyclist must park his or her bicycle. And for those who live in apartment complexes, college dormitories, or other high-density settings, the issue of where to leave a bike while at home is also a serious issue. In short, at one time or another, most bicyclists have experienced the frustration of finding no secure place to leave their bikes.
While providing secure bicycle parking is not the entire solution to the problem of theft, it certainly can help, and it can increase bicyclists’ comfort in leaving their bicycles unattended. As a result, many bicycle owners may be encouraged to make bicycle trips that they might otherwise forego.
Figure 17-1. Photo. Effective bicycle parking improves security and reduces theft.
17.3 Overview of Bicycle Parking Strategies
An effective bicycle parking program should include the following basic strategies:
Typically, the provision of bicycle parking at public facilities helps to convince business owners of the need for bicycle parking on private development. The use of zoning regulations or bicycle parking ordinances helps in the long-term to ensure bicycle parking in newly developed areas.
Bicycle parking can be provided for these strategies using three types of devices (see figure 17-2):
Figure 17-2. Illustrations and photo. Examples of common bicycle parking devices.
17.4 Implementing Bicycle Parking Strategies
This section describes one possible approach to implement bicycle parking. Other approaches are possible and encouraged, particularly if the bicycle parking program is managed by city or county government. This approach is organized chronologically by major steps.
Step 1—Identify Key Implementers
Each of the strategies described previously requires the cooperation of a different group of constituencies. Bicycle parking in public spaces requires the cooperation of public agencies who control or manage the property involved. Sidewalks are typically controlled by the streets or public works department, whereas a parks and recreation department typically has responsibility for open spaces and recreational areas. There may be an agency (similar to the Federal Government’s General Services Administration) in charge of all public property. Or agencies that run specific services (e.g., libraries, public health clinics) may control their own sites.
Encouraging businesses to install bicycle parking may require the cooperation of such groups as the local chamber of commerce, downtown business association, or shopping center manager. In addition, agencies that routinely deal with businesses should be enlisted as outlets for any literature developed as part of the program.
Altering zoning regulations to require consideration of bicycle parking in new developments requires close cooperation with city planning and zoning agency staff, as well as assistance from appointed zoning boards and builders’ associations. Typically, regulations are revised on a schedule; therefore, the time or opportunity to revisit bicycle parking requirements will need to be coordinated with these schedules.
Step 2—Structure the Program
In some communities, a reactive program that simply fills orders and answers questions can be successful. This success would be most likely in a bicycle-friendly community with a high degree of interest in bicycling matters. However, in many places, a reactive approach will result in little and disorganized response. Business owners and managers of large employment centers or residential complexes often see bicycles as clutter and a problem to be eliminated rather than as a solution to traffic congestion or air quality problems. As a result, a successful bicycle parking program should include elements of marketing and promotion.
With the help of the key implementers identified in step 1, one could create three ad hoc task groups to cover three primary thrusts. The groups should create the ground rules and materials necessary for the following tasks:
Step 3—Identify Priority Locations that Need Bicycle Parking
The International Bicycle Fund (IBF) provides the following information on identifying locations for bicycle parking:(2)
Various mechanisms can be used for determining where bicycle parking is needed. Almost all the ones that are sited with bicyclist input are in heavy use. It is more likely that those sited for political consideration will be underutilized. Siting bicycle parking doesn't have to be scientific. Some of the best deterrents for bicycle parking are:
More scientific criteria may be useful for determining exactly what kind of bicycle parking device to install and exactly where.
The following location criteria have been gathered from guidelines used by the cities of Denver and Seattle for placing bicycle racks:
Step 4—Choose Appropriate Bicycle Parking Devices
As described earlier, bicycle parking can be accomplished with three basic devices: racks, lockers, or lock-ups (see figure 17-2). Packets of information should be assembled for available bicycle parking devices, along with the pros and cons of each device. In a joint meeting(s) with all three task groups, adopt a set of criteria and decide which devices are to be endorsed. Typical criteria used to evaluate bicycle parking devices are security (and how well the device works with common bicycle locks), durability and resistance to vandalism, ease of use, aesthetics, and cost.
The Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) publication, Bicycle Parking Guidelines, suggest that bicycle racks should:(3)
AASHTO’s Bicycle Guidelines recommend that bicycle racks should:(4)
Figure 17-3 illustrates a variety of bicycle racks that meet these requirements, whereas figure 17-4 illustrates types of bicycle racks that are not recommended because they fail to meet one or more of these requirements. The average cost for typical bicycle racks ranges from $75 to $100 per rack; a single rack typically holds one or two bicycles. The cost for bicycle lockers ranges considerably more, from about $500 to $1,500 per bicycle.
In addition to the basic bicycle rack design, the layout of bicycle rack areas will need to be designed. The APBP Bicycle Parking Guidelines provides some minimum recommended dimensions for bicycle rack areas (see figure 17-5).(3) Their guidelines also suggest that large rack areas with a high turnover rate have more than one entrance. If possible, the rack area should be protected from weather elements.
Step 5a—Tasks for Developing Public Bicycle Parking
The first task group should set criteria for installing bicycle parking on sidewalks as well as at public destinations. For sidewalks, criteria could include such items as minimum width of sidewalk, rack position on sidewalk and proximity to other street furniture and vegetation, and number per block or number per site. For public sites, they could include proximity to the main entrance, and minimum number of bicycle parking spaces per installation (i.e., based on the type of facility served).
Next, they should create a step-by-step procedure for planning and installation. This should include initial identification of the potential site, discussion with relevant agency personnel, determination of the specific site’s needs (number of parking devices and location), cost analysis and budgeting, procurement, installation, and followup.
To support this activity, they should create a project sheet for rack installation that includes places for the source of the request (if any), signatures of any required agency personnel, a schematic diagram of the site, installation date, and any comments.
Next, they should estimate the total bicycle parking need for public places given a list of potential sites. Estimates can be conservative and based to some extent on existing bicycle traffic, as long as participants recognize that latent demand may be significant. For this reason, phased installation may be particularly appropriate.
For sidewalks, a base number of racks to be installed during a fiscal year (e.g., 100, 500, or 750) should be decided, along with a map showing priority areas. For instance, downtown might be a top-priority area, neighborhood commercial areas could be second, and strip development areas might be third.
Finally, the first task group should set an annual budget for the program and decide how the bicycle parking will be funded. Potential sources include a wide variety of Federal transportation programs, as well as local funding opportunities.
Step 5b—Tasks for Developing Private Bicycle Parking
The second task group should assemble a packet of information for potential private-sector bicycle parking providers. The packet should include a cover letter describing the importance of bicycle parking to businesses and giving any organizational endorsements for the program; a list of available parking devices, along with information on how to order them and which are best suited for which settings; tips on deciding how many bikes need to be accommodated; and tips on locating and installing the devices.
The second task group should also work out details of any promotional activities that will need to be planned. For instance, they should develop a list of groups to talk with, determine who should be responsible for reaching each one, and start making contacts. To this end, the task group should develop a standard presentation, possibly including slides and handouts.
Step 5c—Tasks for Revising Zoning Regulations
The third task group should start by identifying passages in the existing zoning codes where motor vehicle parking is discussed. They should find out when the regulations are going to be modified and use that in determining their schedule of work. They should then assemble sample bicycle parking laws from other communities. Based on the sample laws, they should create a draft revision to the regulations and circulate it for comment. Once comments have been received and considered, they should forward a final draft revision for action at the proper time.
Based upon examples from several locations (e.g., Ann Arbor, MI, Madison, WI, Denver, CO, and San Francisco, CA), bicycle parking ordinances should include these elements:
A growing number of communities have included bicycle parking requirements in their development regulations. By so doing, they ensure that bicycle parking is included in the normal course of development. Figure 17-6 contains excerpts about bicycle parking from the off-street parking ordinance in Madison, WI.(5) Figure 17-7 illustrates the City of Philadelphia’s standard for bicycle rack placement in business districts.(6) Bicycle parking ordinances from numerous other cities can be found by searching a particular city’s website for their planning, development, or land use ordinances.
Step 6—Implement the Program
With the program established, materials prepared, and initial funding identified, implementation of the program can begin. Routine responsibilities for the various tasks should be taken care of by the agencies identified through the previous steps. Oversight of the program may require the attention of a project coordinator. This may be a task delegated to a member of the planning department or public works staff.
Step 7—Evaluate Progress
As the work is proceeding, keep track of successes and failures. Early on, get the word out to the bicycling public that: (1) the program exists and (2) they should submit comments and ideas for potential parking sites. Keep a record of how many parking devices have been installed, how many comments have been received, how many information packets have been sent out, what proportion of public places has adequate bicycle parking, how well the parking is working (i.e., whether the public likes it, whether it holds up well to vandalism), and how successful the zoning regulations appear to be (once they are adopted). Use this feedback to fine-tune the program and determine future levels of funding.
Figure 17-6. Photo. Excerpts from off-street parking ordinance in Madison, WI.
Figure 17-6. Photo. Excerpts from off-street parking ordinance in Madison, WI—Continued
17.5 Student Exercise
Do an inventory of need for bicycle storage facilities and a preliminary site design for an activity center in your community.
Develop a bicycle parking ordinance for your local community. Have students consider the features discussed in this chapter.
17.6 References and Additional Resources
The references for this lesson are:
Additional resources for this lesson include: