Perhaps you’ve been cycling on the weekends and have rediscovered the fun of biking. Maybe you’ve run the numbers to find the gas and parking bill is too high. Or, perhaps you are ready to make a healthier commuting choice for yourself and the environment.
Whatever has led you to ride your bike to work, it’s now time to ensure you have a great experience. From choosing a route, to ensuring your bike is ready to ride, you will also want to ensure you have a safe and secure place to park your bike during your work day.
We’ve conducted many surveys here in the Workplace Commuter Options program, and when asked what is preventing individuals from cycling to work, access to secure bike parking is often ranked high. This makes complete sense, as leaving work at the end of a long day to find your bike stripped, vandalized or missing is not acceptable.
If you are an employee or an employer wanting to create a secure bike parking facility, we have gathered some hints, tips and images to assist you.
1) Select the right design
The most important aspect of a rack is that it has at least two points of contact with the bike, both for locking purposes and to support the frame. The highest rated rack is the “Inverted-U” that accommodates 2 bikes per rack. It provides flexibility in terms of configuring your space and is a good design.
Bike rack design has improved substantially over the years, and you may have noticed a variety of styles around Winnipeg. Check out the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) Essentials of Bike Parking guide to see a variety of styles to evaluate what might work best for your workplace.
To maximize the number of bikes in a secure area, you might want to include both wall-mounted and floor racks. Obviously, the wall-mounted style isn’t for everyone, especially those with heavy cruiser-type bikes. But the combination does allow for more bikes and various styles.
2) Ensure the racks are installed appropriately (get the geometry right)
Too often racks are positioned so there’s only enough room to access the rack from one side (e.g. in front of Millennium library) and no room to maneuver, especially when the racks are full. You want to ensure there is sufficient space for the bike’s length, width of handlebars (and baskets these days), and to lock and unlock a bike. Otherwise, it reduces the total number of bikes that can be parked. “The footprint of a typical bicycle is approximately 6’ x 2’. Cargo bikes and bikes with trailers can extend to 10’ or longer” states the APBP Essentials of Bike Parking Guide. You can access the guide here, and we recommend studying the placement section, and giving good thought and consideration to your circumstances before selecting and installing a bike rack at your facility.
3) Convenient and Safe Access
General convenience factors mean it’s located close to the entrance/exit, doesn’t require carrying your bike up and down stairs, and is well lit and safe. You don’t want it tucked away in a dark corner under the stairs. (Note: bike racks in the back alley next to the waste and recycling bins will probably not attract many users.)
4) Provide for more bike parking than current demand
The availability of secure parking almost always results in an increase in the number of people choosing to bike to work. Especially if the space feels safe, well lit, convenient and clean. There is a wide variety of formulas that attempt to determine how many spots to provide, but the simplest way is to ask employees through a survey or sign-up sheet and do visual counts on a good weather day in summer.
5) Some admin required
Sometimes you’ll hear about an office that has secure bike parking for 20 bikes and all the keys to the cage have been handed out. Meanwhile, there are only 10 people actively using the cage because the remainder have moved on elsewhere but have not returned their key. Situations like this highlight the importance of having a well-organized individual coordinate the secure bike parking facilities in your workplace. Strategies to implement include requiring a key/card deposit, refundable when the key is returned.
6) Remind users to lock up their bikes.
The second safeguard of locking your bike to a rack is always a good idea, even inside a locked area. Signage also might include how to properly lock your bike, as well as proper procedure for keeping the space secure. The racks themselves should be properly secured to the floor/wall.
7) Provide space for wet/dirty clothes to hang.
If possible, provide space for hooks for people to leave rain jackets, pants, boots and the like to dry, so riders don’t have to carry them up to the office. Whether people choose to use this option will depend in part on their comfort level with the security of the space.
8) Promote the availability of secure bike parking and how to sign up!
Include the information in HR packages, such as orientations or other material for new hires, and ensure it is readily available for existing employees. Someone may not have paid attention in the past but lifestyle changes or peer/co-worker/family influences may have persuaded them to start cycling to work.
If you are an employee or employer researching design options for secure bike parking at your workplace, consider connecting with workplaces who are doing it right. We have received images and feedback from The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, CBC Manitoba, Environment Canada, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Misericordia Hospital and Transport Canada. If you would like assistance contacting these workplaces, please let us know.
Bonus Quiz: When the sidewalks along this street were refinished, there was a design glitch with the bike racks. On what street in Winnipeg can you find these bike racks?