Towards a taxonomy of bicycle parking

Now that I’ve been doing this for a couple of weeks, I’m starting to get semi-formal criteria for what makes excellent, adequate, and terrible bicycle parking.

Capacity: Is there a rack at all? If not, is there a railing or similar ad-hoc option? Are there enough spots for the number of bikes typically parked at the location? Are all of the theoretical spots actually feasible? (A-frames are often placed too close too close to a wall. Other styles usually hold fewer bikes in practice than they’re designed for.)

Access: Is the rack (etc) near a curb cut? Is it easy to maneuver into? Is it free of obstructions? Is it close to the destination? Is it located so that it leaves clear passage for pedestrians?

Security: Is the rack (etc) securely fastened in place? Is it located so that a lock can be placed appropriately? Is it visible from the destination’s entrance? For a cafe or restaurant, can it be seen from the customer seating area?

There’s also the issue of protection from the weather. I realize that most people don’t ride in the rain. However, there are many times of year in this region where you can avoid actually riding in the rain, but it might rain while you’re at your destination. Additionally, locations that are well-protected from rain also provide shade, keeping the bike’s saddle cool and comfortable when you get back to it, and protecting any cargo from sun and heat.

I have a particular frustration with inadequate overhangs, what I’ve been tagging as the fauxverhang. These seem to be especially common in new construction: vestigial awnings, usually flat horizontal, not actually deep enough to protect a bike from either rain or sun. The problem with rain is worse if the wind is blowing at all, which it usually is. I think they’re an insult to cyclists, a “yeah yeah bikes, whatever” gesture.

Of course, for me it’s even more annoying because my main bike is a long cargo bike, so often even shelters that are mostly adequate for a normal bike aren’t adequate for me. (I have this problem at work.) But if I have that problem, so do riders of recumbents and tandems.

So in the points system in my head, normal overhangs get bonus points, deep overhangs get extra bonus points, and fauxverhangs get negative points.

Am I missing any qualities for judging bicycle parking? Do you have any bike parking pet peeves?

4 Responses

  1. You might (or might not) be aware that bicycle parking is required for much new construction and significant remodels (there are exceptions) in Olympia. You can see the code online at:

    The whole code is online at:

    Lastly, great minds rant alike:

  2. I knew about the parking requirements, but hadn’t looked at the design requirements: (scroll down to section C) To quote at length:

    2. A short-term bicycle parking facility shall provide convenient parking with some security and weather protection. Short-term bicycle parking facilities shall include a covered stationary rack. These facilities may be shared among adjoining establishments.

    Short-term bicycle parking facilities shall be located either: no further from a public entry than the nearest non-handicapped parking stall; or visible from and within one hundred (100) feet of the public entry; or within fifty (50) feet of the public entry to the building. A directional sign shall be provided if the selected location is not clearly visible from the primary entrance.

    3. Each bicycle parking area shall be separated from motor vehicle parking and maneuvering areas by a barrier, post, or bollard, or by at least five (5) feet of open space. Bicycle parking spaces shall be two (2) feet by six (6) feet each, with no less than a seven (7) foot overhead clearance. A five (5) foot maneuvering aisle shall separate rows of bicycle parking spaces. Bicycle parking facilities shall not be solely accessible by stairs.

    4. Bicycle racks shall be covered in such a manner as to protect the entire bicycle from rain and installed to provide adequate maneuvering space and ensure that the requisite number of bicycle parking spaces remain accessible. The rack shall be permanently affixed to the ground and support the bicycle at two (2) or more points, including at least one (1) point on the frame higher than two (2) feet from the ground. The user shall be able to lock the bicycle with a U-shaped lock or cable lock. Bicycle racks which only support a bicycle front or rear wheel are not permitted.

    Which is basically a legalese version of what I wrote. :) I did not realized that covered parking was a requirement and not just a nicety, though!

  3. Just found Lacey’s bike parking standards. For capacity, see table under 16.72.030. For design, see 16.72.050, section C.

  4. (Since so far most of the locations I’ve photographed are in Lacey.)

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