Gas station without pumps

2010 July 20

Bike parking

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 20:34
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In today’s SF Chronicle, John King laments the ugliness of the new bike parking in San Francisco.  The accompanying photo shows a rather generic U-rack:

U-rack from SF Chronicle

I’ve been a long-time bicycle commuter—it’s been my main form of transportation for the past 40 years, and I’ve never had a driver’s license—so I have some strong opinions about bike parking.  I’ve even been collecting photos of different styles of bike parking for the past few years, with the intent of someday producing a lecture that I can give to urban planners and architects.

As bike parking goes, the simple upside-down U is one of the most practical designs available.  As the Chronicle picture shows, it allows locking both wheels, and it supports the bike at multiple points high up on the frame, so that the bike won’t fall over and get damaged if someone bumps it. If you don’t bother to lock both wheels, you can lose them, as this student did at the University of Minnesota:

U's only protect your wheels if you lock them to the U.

Of course, one can get the same positive features with better-looking designs.  Consider the bike parking at the ScienCenter in Los Angeles:

Bike parking at ScienCenter

Or these from the University of Minnesota:

Sculptural bike parking at the University of Minnesota

A second-best design is a single post with “ears” to lock to, which provides adequate high support, but can make locking both wheels tougher, and sometimes allows the bike to fall by rotating around the post. Here is a good example from Boston:

Bike parking post near ICA in Boston.

Even an adequate design can be spoiled by bad installation.  If a post is too close to a wall, no one can use it:

Too close to the wall to get a bike in.

If you allow cars nearby, you have to protect the posts:

Cars and trucks can easily damage bike parking posts.

What you want to avoid at all costs are “wheelbreakers” that hold the bottom of the wheels, so that if the bike is knocked over, the wheel is damaged.  The MIT campus provides an example of one of the worst such designs:

Wheelbreaker on MIT campus

This has only been a small sample of my bike parking pictures.  I’ll do more in some subsequent post.

Some other sources for pictures of artistic bike racks: bikeparkingonline, DavidByrne, Ann Arbor, Portland, Solar Bike Tree

1 Comment »

  1. […] it would be good to look at what they have to say about bicycling and bicycle infrastructure (like bike parking).  Perhaps when I’m feeling more willing to register a password on yet another website, […]

    Pingback by LEED Rating public comments « Gas station without pumps — 2011 August 1 @ 15:51 | Reply


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