11 Benefits of Incorporating Bike Racks in Your Park Design

Benefits of bike racks

| Jan 28, 2022

Bicycles have plenty of health benefits to regular riders. Installing bike racks can also heavily benefit your business, from encouraging people to ride to gaining more customers to saving money to creating a better image. This article covers types of bike racks, why they’re important, how they benefit your park and where to install them. After reading this, you will be able to easily plan, lay out and create effective bike parking spaces.

Read the full article or skip to a specific section:

Types of Bike Racks

There are several different types of bike racks. Each has its own style and uses to consider:

  • U Bike Racks: This style is known as U bike racks, inverted U racks or staple racks. It may be the simplest when it comes to design, but it still offers key features necessary for bike parking. This rack will support a bicycle in two places, which keep it upright. It allows riders to lock the frame and wheel to the rack. The U rack is durable and considered one of the most secure. There are other designs beyond the U shape that still classify and function as a U bike rack. These are the most commonly used bike racks since the design allows it to be placed very close to destinations, offering convenience to bikers. Each single rack can hold two bikes, and multiple racks can be lined to secure as many bikes as needed.
  • Post & Ring Racks: These racks are a bike parking favorite that provide good security and support for bicycles. When working with this rack, the height of the ring needs to be considered. If the ring is too high, it can be difficult to lock a frame and wheel to it. 
  • Wheel Pocket Racks: Bike racks that have a wheel pocket offer an additional level of support, keeping the bicycle standing. The well for the wheel also ensures the bicycles are parked in the proper position within the rack. A staggered vertical height allows for more bikes to be parked in an area. 
  • Wave & Serpentine Racks: The fluid curves of these racks are recognized by cyclists, assuring them of safe and dependable parking. Round and square models alike are compatible with U-Locks that lock to both the frame and wheel. They also can be ordered with loops to fit as few or as many bikes as a facility needs to meet regulations.
  • Bollard-style Racks: Used to limit access to bike-only trails and parking areas, bollard-style Racks also provide cyclists with secure parking. They are robust and highly visible and can be used as security or traffic barriers to help regulate large crowds. This type of rack comes in various widths and styles.
  • Grid-style Racks: Grid-style racks are traditional and easy to use. The grid design is ideal for high-volume bike parking. Most models can be ordered in single or double sided. They are compact and are recommended for short-term bike parking only. 
  • Innovative Racks: These are new variations on traditional bike racks. They offer extra security and character to any setting. They put a twist on basic bike rack designs for added interest and maximum security. 
  • Decorative Racks: Decorative racks will add personality and interest to your environment. They are imaginative and playful while still meeting bike parking regulations. 

Each of these styles is useful in its own way. But with so many options, it can be hard to determine the one best for your setting. The following tips will help you narrow your choices and avoid common bike parking rack mistakes: 

When deciding which bike rack to purchase, you should consider:

  • Organization
  • Bicycle friendliness
  • High density
  • Security
  • Value

Organized racks keep bikes upright by separating them slightly, preventing them from scraping against each other or falling to  the ground. Look for bike docks to keep wheels in place or offset handlebars. 

Bike-friendly racks also consider the security of the bike itself. Look for those that have protective coatings to prevent the frame from scratching against metal and are compatible with U-locks. 

Racks that have a high density will make the most of valuable real estate. You’ll want high-density parking that doesn’t compromise organization. Look for organized racks with flexible layout possibilities to get as many bikes as possible into an area. 

Secure racks prevent bicycle theft, which happens more often than most people realize. Thieves will avoid stealing bikes from racks that present a challenge to them. Look for stronger materials like steel and avoid hollow tubing. Ensure a U-Lock will wrap around the entire bike frame, wheel and the rack. 

It’s important to also find the right balance between price and quality. Some features are important for function while others add to the cost with no real benefit. 

Keeping these metrics in mind can help you find the right bike rack for you and your cyclists. 

Why Are Bike Racks Important?

Simply, bike racks encourage biking. There are plenty of benefits that come from biking, like exercising, helping the environment, saving money and more. Riding a bike is a healthy activity that is also fun and a low-impact form of exercise perfect for all ages. It can be easy to add into a daily routine by riding to your destinations. An estimated one billion people ride bicycles every day for transport, recreation and sport. Biking is a good muscle workout since cycling uses all of the major muscle groups as you pedal.

Cycling can help protect you from serious diseases such as:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Some cancers
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Arthritis

It only takes two to four hours of biking a week to achieve a general improvement to your health. The more regularly you do it, the better the benefits. Riding your bike regularly is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle because it replaces your sitting time spent in cars, buses or trains when you use it as a mode of transportation. It’s also good for your strength and stamina and can be as intense as you want it to be. 

Cycling is mainly an aerobic activity — your heart, blood vessels and lungs all get a workout. You will breathe deeper, perspire and experience increased body temperature, which all improve your overall fitness level. Other health benefits of regular cycling include:

  • Increased cardiovascular fitness
  • Increased muscle strength and flexibility
  • Improved joint mobility
  • Decreased stress levels
  • Improved posture and coordination
  • Strengthened bones
  • Decreased body fat levels
  • Prevention or management of disease
  • Reduced anxiety and depression
  • Boosted bowels
  • Increased brain power
  • Heathy immune system

Beyond these additional health benefits, cycling also:

  • Saves the planet. Twenty bicycles can be parked in the same space as one car. Bikes also produce zero pollution. You travel around three times as fast as walking for the same amount of energy. 
  • Assists at work. Employees who exercised before work or at lunchtime improved their time and workload management. It also boosted their motivation and ability to deal with stress. 
  • Avoid pollution. Researchers found that passengers in buses, taxis and cars inhaled substantially more pollution than cyclists and pedestrians. 
  • Enjoy guilt-free snacks. Leading up to a big ride is the perfect time to up your salt intake since the sodium helps protect your body against hyponatremia, a condition caused by drinking too much water without enough sodium that leads to disorientation and illness. 
  • Make creative breakthroughs. Writers, musicians, artists, top executives and all kinds of professionals use exercise to solve mental blocks and make decisions. A study found that just 25 minutes of aerobic exercise boosts creative thinking. 
  • It’ll make you happy. Any mild-to-moderate exercise releases natural feel-good endorphins that help counter stress and make you happy. 
  • Combats tiredness. Physical activity, even for a few minutes, combats fatigue. Exercise directly lowers fatigue levels.

Adding bike racks into places that people commonly visit, like a grocery store, school or workplace will encourage them to put down the car keys and pick up the pedals. With that encouragement comes all the above benefits for riders. 

11 Benefits of Incorporating Bike Racks in Your Design

When you incorporate bike racks in your design, your customer base will expand and employee satisfaction will increase. You’ll also be able to make the best use of your space. Here are 11 reasons why your space should be bike-friendly: 

1. Attract More Customers

You probably already see people riding bikes past your space. If you don’t offer the appropriate accommodations for them, they’ll keep riding past. Bike commuting and bicycle tourism are growing trends, especially in large urban centers. Riders are more likely to frequent local businesses, but they’ll also be more willing to spend since they’re saving on gas, maintenance and parking. Bike parking is a confirmed way to attract customers and boost revenue.

2. Competitive Advantage

Businesses that provide adequate bike parking will automatically be preferred by cyclists over those that offer little or none. 

3. Community Engagement

Cities across the globe are encouraging various alternative forms of transportation. Businesses play a huge role in shaping the culture and lifestyles in local neighborhoods. Demonstrate strong leadership in supporting proper infrastructure, reduced carbon emissions and healthier lifestyles by installing bike racks.

4. Cultivate Your Image

For a business, image is everything. Cycling is progressive and forward-looking. Supporting it can enhance an innovative brand and improve public image. By providing bike parking, you position your brand as a bike-friendly business, favorable to a large majority of consumers. Standard bike parking is a start, but consider allocating space indoors for more protected storage or even setting up an on-street bike station with tire pumps, tools and a water station. With this, your brand can position itself as green and environmentally friendly.

5. Healthy and Happy Employees

As a vigorous cardiovascular activity, cycling keeps people active and healthy, reducing risk of heart disease and diabetes. It has also been proven to improve mental health and support creativity. More and more people are choosing to ride their bikes to work. In some cities, providing end-of-trip bike parking facilities for employees is even mandatory. Happy, healthy employees take fewer sick days and are more productive. Encouraging healthy lifestyles through cycling is a win-win situation for managers and employees. 

6. Increase Parking Capacity at Little Cost

Car parking can require a lot of real estate and adequate road access. Bikes, on the other hand, are more versatile and take up much less space, so there are more opportunities to integrate accommodations into a commercial space. Bike racks will accommodate more employees and customers than a single car parking space every time. A single bike rack can offer parking for multiple bikes in a convenient location with prime access to a building entrance. It also saves you a lot of money since installing a bike rack is much cheaper than building a parking space.

7. Optimize Space

Without proper infrastructure, you might find cyclists parking in unwanted spaces, chaining their bikes to trees, fences, railings or other site furnishings. This can cause damage or obstruction to pedestrian or road traffic. Preemptive planning ensures more efficient use of space to accommodate a greater range of uses. You can save even more space by installing a wall bike rack. These vertical racks save space while providing a more secure bike storage option and can be easily mounted to a wall. 

8. Community Support

Growth in popularity causes growth in support. Many community programs offer assistance for businesses looking to increase bike parking at their locations. Community groups and government representatives can help plan and, in some situations, may even offer free hardware and installation.

9. Stop the Rise in Bike Theft

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an unprecedented boom in bike sales, especially in North America. More bike lanes were installed to encourage cycling and outdoor exercise while observing physical distancing. Because of this spike in bike usage, bike shops were overwhelmed with the increased demand, causing bike shortages nationwide. As bicycle sales soared, so did bike theft. Lack of secure parking options was a big contributor to bike theft. Installing even one bicycle rack can help to lower the thievery numbers. People will also be more willing to ride when they know there’s a safe and secure place to store their bicycle. 

10. Provide Better and More Secure Parking Options

You’ve probably seen some sort of odd parking technique in the past. Without an adequate and extensive network of accessible public bike racks, people will use numerous weird alternatives, like fences, street posts, gates, railings and trees. This is not only risky for the bike owner, but it also makes it unsafe for the public, potentially causing harmful damage to the objects used. If you can provide extensive and better-quality bike parking alternatives, most cyclists will use them. Offering secure parking solutions also increases visibility and security that helps prevent bike theft.

11. Aesthetically Pleasing

When you hear “bike rack,” you might be thinking of a complicated, cheap quality, space-occupying and insecure eyesore. This is not the case. Modern commercial bike racks are often available in appealing designs while still offering high functionality. Take Wabash Valley Site Furnishings’ commercial bike racks, for example. For over 30 years, they’ve offered a variety of durable, functional, high-end bike racks. You can choose from portable, ground-mounted and loop bike racks to equip your facility with the right design to meet your specific needs. Shop their bike rack options here. The security of bike racks depend on three major factors: the quality of the bike rack, the type and quality of the lock and how the lock is used.

Where to Install Your Bike Racks

Before you purchase and install your bike racks, there are a few things to consider. Your key outcome should be an area that allows cyclists to easily park their bikes with a reasonable expectation of security and protection for the short term, which is typically less than two hours. Secure parking for longer periods of time would be considered bike storage opposed to bike parking and has its own distinct decisions that need to be considered. But for short-term secure and convenient bike parking, follow the bike parking guidelines listed below.

Designated and Organized

Without bike parking that is designated and organized, it is easy for problems to arise, even in areas where only a few cyclists are present. As the population becomes denser, these problems only increase. A cyclist will choose the best option available to secure their bike, which can be fences, street signs, trees, railings and more if the quality of bicycle parking options are low. Ultimately, the presence of secure and accessible bike parking will be the most important placemaking factor that influences the destination of a cyclist. Adding biker-friendly amenities benefits almost any destination, like:

  • Multifamily residential buildings
  • Schools/university campuses
  • Commercial businesses
  • Business offices
  • Parks, sidewalks and other municipal amenities
  • Public transit stations
  • Hospitals
  • Car parking lots and garages
  • Other public spaces intended for usage by the community

Bike Parking Placement

When planning a bike parking area, your focus should remain on convenience for the cyclist and the utility of providing the greatest security for the bike. Convenience can be achieved by placing bike racks in a location that is easily accessible. The closest rack should be installed no more than 50 feet from the primary entrance of the building or intended destination. Cyclists may opt to use closer alternatives like trees or fencing instead if the parking area is placed a greater distance away. 

Bike parking should also be closer to the entryway than the nearest car parking stall to make it more desirable than car parking. This will help to encourage cycling. Consider the paths that cyclists are most likely to travel in approaching your bicycle parking space. Place it near these paths of travel to ensure easy access. Usage will reduce significantly if it is too far from bicycle travel paths. 

Visibility and Security

Increasing visibility increases usage. It will help cyclists easily locate bike parking as they approach a destination. Achieve this with signage or by making the rack itself as visible as possible with bright colors — like this bright blue bike rack or this rack with several color options. You can also add markings on the ground to direct cyclists to the area, increasing the convenience factor. 

Placing bike parking near pedestrian traffic will add an additional element of security since it acts as passive surveillance, deterring potential theft. Bike parking that is behind buildings, in alleyways or other out-of-sight locations gives thieves more opportunity to bypass the security of the lock. Bike parking should also be visible from the intended destination, allowing cyclists to keep an eye on their bike. This makes them more confident about the security and more likely to use the allocated parking area.  

Number of Bike Parking Spots

Many cities, towns and other governmental organizations have set minimum ordinances or other mandates. These are the best ways to determine the number of bike parking spaces needed. You can usually find bike parking guidelines and ordinances related to capacity, placement and right-of-way in a city’s public works or parks and recreation department. Here is what the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) recommends for minimum parking requirements: 

  • Hospitals/Health Care: One space for each 20,000 sq. ft. of floor area. Minimum of two spaces.
  • Schools: One space for every 20 students of planned capacity. Minimum of two spaces.
  • Colleges and Universities: One space for every 10 students of planned capacity. Minimum of two spaces.
  • Business Offices: One space for each 20,000 sq. ft. of floor area. Minimum of two spaces. 
  • Off-street Parking Lots/Garages: One space per 20 auto spaces. Minimum of six spaces.

For more urbanized or bike-active communities, plan for another half to one space per volume. 

Bike Rack Installation

When you’re installing a sidewalk bike rack, the primary mounting options are:

  • In-ground mount. This is the most secure. The rack is placed with the feet at a designated distance below the surface level. Concrete is then poured, embedding and securing the legs.
  • Surface mount. A surface mount involves securing the rack to the surface with wedge anchors and metal flanges. With this method, it’s recommended that tamper-proof hardware be used. This will help restrict a thief’s ability to unsecure the rack from the ground. The flange could be square, rectangular or circular, depending on the specific rack. 
  • Rail mount. This has multiple racks bolted to rails which can then be anchored to the surface or left freestanding.
  • Freestanding. These types of bike racks are not anchored and rest on the surface. Bike racks that have a freestanding mount should have an enclosed locking element.

The best surface material and most secure option for installing bike racks is concrete. It’s also the least expensive. In-ground and surface mounts are the best options with concrete. When placing racks on an asphalt surface, there are two main options. First, do an in-ground mount by cutting holes in the asphalt for the legs. Then, place the rack and pour concrete footings to secure the rack. The second option is to use racks on rails. The entire unit can be left freestanding or the rails can be anchored to the asphalt. Pavers should be removed, concrete footings poured and the rack installed in-ground. Racks on rails are also an option but surface mounts should be avoided with pavers. They can be easily loosened, making it possible to remove the rack from the ground. A thief can then slide the lock off the rack and take the bicycle. For natural surfaces like dirt and grass, pour concrete footings for an in-ground installation for the best option. Freestanding racks on rails would be the next best option. 

Bike Racks Layout Design

Layout of bike parking will affect how easy it is to access and its overall use. When placed too close to objects or not spaced properly, the number of usable spaces are reduced or eliminated. The primary scheme of your design should incorporate adequate clearance between the rack and walls, other fixed objects and driving or parked cars. 

In general, allow for the following:

  • Enough end and side clearance to operate bicycles into and out of the parking area.
  • Adequate clearance around the rack for cyclists to access and securely lock the bicycle to the rack from the side.
  • Access to the rack from all sides so all available parking spaces may be used. 

The orientation of your bike racks in relation to these elements will also necessitate different placements. 

When laying out bike racks parallel to walls or other objects, it’s recommended to have:

  • From walls and other fixed objects: A setback of 48″ with a minimum 36″
  • From roads/parked cars: A setback of 24″
  • From walls to create aisles or allow walkways for pedestrians on sidewalks: A setback of 96″
  • Between multiple racks: A spacing of 72″ with a minimum of 48″

When laying out bike racks perpendicular to walls or other objects, it’s recommended to have: 

  • From walls and other fixed objects: A setback of 48″ with a minimum of 36″
  • From roads/parked cars: A setback of 36″ with a minimum of 24″
  • From walls to create aisles or allow walkways for pedestrians on sidewalks: A setback of 132″
  • Between multiple racks: A spacing of 48″ with a minimum of 36″

Selecting A Bike Parking Rack

Not all bicycle racks are the same. When selecting a rack, determine the appropriate user and where the racks will be installed to make the best choice. Things to consider when selecting bicycle racks are:

  • Ease of use
  • Support of the bicycle
  • Security
  • Capacity
  • Function
  • Quality of materials
  • Aesthetics

There are many racks to choose from and they differ in their security, dimensions, spacing options, capacity for parking bikes and more. There are essential elements of bike racks that are necessary and will help narrow your choices:

  • Ability to lock the frame and wheel to the bike rack.
  • Supports the bicycle in two places.
  • Resists cutting, bending or deformation. 
  • Securely mounts to the ground.

By following the above guidelines, you’ll be able to effectively plan and install the right number and type of bike racks in the right places with enough space in no time. 

Contact Wabash Valley Site Furnishings

Wabash Valley offers commercial-grade outdoor bike racks that can help invite traffic to your location. To ensure longevity, they use a six-step process for finishing their commercial loop bike racks:

  1. Shot-blasting to white metal
  2. Chemical pre-treatment in five stages
  3. Zinc-rich epoxy coating
  4. Zinc-rich epoxy coating gel-cure
  5. Polyester topcoat compliant with AAMA 2604-05
  6. Final cure

Bike racks designed by Wabash Valley Site Furnishings complement a variety of outdoor spaces. From ground-mounted bike racks to loop bike racks to portable racks and more, you’re sure to find what you need. Contact them for a quote today