Monday, May 25, 2015

If Bike Racks Could Talk...

Two examples of poorly placed bike racks. At left, the rack is around the corner from store's entrance along sidewalk. At right, the rack is positioned at one end of  strip mall, inconvenient for grocery store shopping.

Within our city I've encountered at least ten unique styles of bike racks. Some work better than others. But I've come to the conclusion that I'm thankful to be provided a rack, in whatever shape or form, at any business. In fact, 50% of stores are without any designated bicycle parking, and those that do, well, at least cycling is recognized, unfortunately as an afterthought. I was thinking about racks and placement and what works and what doesn't. Then I wondered, what if racks could talk? What story would they tell?

Perhaps it would go something like this:

Don't relegate me to the far corners of the lot like some afterthought to appease transportation cyclists. For heaven's sake don't place me beside the dumpster. You might discover banana peels hanging from the handle bars. Yeah we have a bike rack, but don't use me if you value your bicycle.
Put me in a highly visible spot, preferably in front of store windows.
The more foot traffic that passes by me the safer a cyclist feels leaving their bike locked and unattended. Shoppers will spend more time shopping instead of hurrying because they are worried about their bike's safety.

Leave lots of room around me.
More people are towing trailers behind their bike. And what about kids' safety? Parents need space for children waiting beside the rack. Shoppers also like ample room to organize purchases before packing up their bike.

Place me in an area free from wayward shopping carts.
My users like to avoid a bumper car experience. It does wonders for repeat business.

Bicycles signify the store is open for business.
What better advertising than me full of bikes? It announces to the public, "Open." much better than a sign on the door.

Bonus points if I'm under cover.
You'd be pleasantly surprised at the two wheel shoppers that will converge on your store, rain or shine.

Keep me painted.
A clean rack attracts users. Who wants to lock a shiny bike to a rusted, dilapidated bar? Might as well say, "I'm falling apart. Don't trust me."

All this is to say, no matter what style of  rack you place at your storefront, these simple rules will enhance and even attract bike commuters to your store. With the growing two wheeled transportation scene, why would you choose to avoid this growing market?


  1. I really despise the racks that are just placed in lots that aren't attached to anything... and we seem to have lots of them around here. I just refuse to lock to them and instead find a tree, post or something else. It just seems too easy for someone to walk off with the entire rack of bikes. Granted, I live in an area that many people just leave their bikes unlocked anyway, but I hear stories about bikes up and walking away (and it probably doesn't help that I've had my own stolen in the past).

    I think that, at least in general, many racks are ill designed for the variety of bicycles on the roads. The loopish ones are tough to get under if you have racks, bags, etc, and I can't imagine someone with a box bike or longtail being able to use these efficiently. I usually end up locking up to these using the entire length (parking parallel rather than perpendicular as intended), but then it's not really available for anyone else. The racks that have all of the thing slots are even worse than the loop ones, I think.

  2. What you've written should be the guidelines for proper rack placement.
    Since most places here don't have racks I'm thankful for the places that do even if they are poorly designed and placed but like you say, there would be mutual benefit if just a little more thought was put in to it.


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