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Bicycle Parking - How to Choose a Bike Rack

Updated on August 28, 2008

What to Look for and What to Avoid

Whether you're an architect, builder, property manager, school, university or local government, the issue of bicycle parking is becoming more and more important.

Sometimes bicycle parking faclities are a mandatory requirement, while other times bike racks are requested by customer or residents, or simply needed to prevent bicycles becoming a pedestrian hazard.

How to Choose a Bike Rack

Modern bicycles can cost thousands of dollars, and cyclists will look for bike racks that will not damage their bikes and allow locking of the wheel and frame with a 'U' lock.

Unfortunately, many bike parking facilities provided for cyclists are poorly designed and do not provide adequate security, or can actually cause damage to a bike. These racks will not be used, and cyclists will instead lock their bikes to nearby trees and posts, or lean them against building fronts and windows. This not only creates an eyesore, but causes damage to property and becomes a hazard to pedestrians.

The key to providing a safe and effective bicycle parking program is to specify high quality, attractive bike racks that cyclists will use. In Australia, this means bicycle racks must at least meet the parking device guidelines established by Austroads Part 14 and AS2890.3.

Here are some guidelines that will help you choose a bike rack that will be used.

What to look for...

* The Bicycle Rack design should attract cyclists encourage use.

* Bike Racks must allow the bike frame and wheel(s) to be locked securely to the rack.

* To prevent damage to the bike, Bike Racks must support the bike its frame, and not hold or pinch the wheel.

* Bike Racks should provide the same opportunity for security whether the bike is parked on the end or middle of the rack.

* Bike Racks should be built from heavy duty steel, with weather proof finishes, and tamper resistant fixings.

* Attractive Bike Rack designs will encourage property owners to install secure bike parking facilities.

What to avoid...

Here are a few reasons why cyclists will not use some bike racks:

* Damage -- If a bike rack can damage a bike it won't be used. Some racks, so-called wheel benders, can damage the wheels or frame of a bike. If a rack will bend a wheel it won't be used.

* Security -- As many of today's bicycles have 'quick release' front wheels, the bicycle racks must allow both the wheel(s) and frame to be securely locke to the rack. Do not buy a bicycle rack that does not allow for wheel and frame to be locked with a 'U' lock.

* Capacity -- If a specification says a bike rack will hold ten bikes, check that it can do this while still allowing enough space between bikes to allow easy access. Some bicycle rack designs can easily be misused, and the stated capacity can be reduced by as much as 90%.

* Look Around -- Cyclists won't used bike racks that don't secure or support their bike by its frame. Notice what bike racks are not being used and avoid wasting your money. .

Examples of Good Bicycle Parking Facilities

* Multiple Bike Parking Racks -- Bike racks that provide multiple parking spaces while also supporting the bike frame and encouraging locking of the wheel and frame to the rack are an excellent choice to provide maximum capacity andminimal installation costs. Make sure to choose an attractive and effective design to compliment your setting and encourage cyclists to use it.

* Bicycle Parking Rails -- Bike Rails are suitable for narrow footpaths and difficult spaces. Bike Rails can alos be used in clusters to fill larger areas. The standard parking rail supports the bike frame and allows secure locking.

* Wall Mounted Rack -- A good choice where space does not allow for surface mounted parking. Make sure the design supports the bike frame (not wheel) and allows easy locking of the frame and wheel.

Other Parking Devices

* Bicycle Lockers -- These enclosed units are luxury item. Each unit should have a door for single bike access and space to hang a helmut and clothing. Unfortunately, these units are expensive and usually require ongoing maintenance and inspection due to vandalism and security concerns.

* Bicycle Rooms & Compounds -- A secured area is a deterrent to theft but unsecured bikes in a bike room or compound are still an open invitation for theft. A secure room alone isn't enough. Make sure to install high quality bicycle racks in the room for the security of each bike.

Finishes and Materials

Most good bike racks are available in a variety of finishes.

Paint -- Racks that are painted chip and rust - avoid.

Colour coatings -- High density colour powder coatings can produce an attractive colourful product that is scratch and corrosion resistant. Colour powder coatings applied directly to a steel frame will rust, while colour powder coatings on a galvanised frame will chip very easily. If you want a colour finish, ask for powder coatings on a zinc electroplated frame. Not recommended for areas within 2km from salt water.

Galvanised steel -- Virtually maintenance free and weather resistant. Products that have been 'hot-dipped' galvanised post fabrication offer the most durable galvanised finish. Avoid pre-galvanised tube unless using strictly in undercover/underground areas.

Stainless steel -- Attractive and expensive. Well suited for plazas and for buildings with stainless accessories. Ask for high quality Grade 316 or 304 Stainless Steel. The addition of an electropolish finish increases the shine and adds additional protection.


* Don't waste your money.

* Do not buy products which hold (pinch) wheels.

* Be aware of capacity claims and avoid racks which are misused.

* Buy products which permit the bike frame and wheel(s) to be locked.

* Locate racks where the cyclists will go - not where you might like them to go.

* Avoid racks that have a low profile or could cause a hazard to pedestrians.

* Buy only quality products.

Cora Bike Rack is Australia's leading manufacturer of bicycle parking racks. Designed for ease of use and installation, Cora Bike Racks are suitable for all applications and comply with AS2890.3 and Green Star requirements. For expert advice visit Cora Bike Rack at


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      jrutledge 9 years ago

      Great infromation on bicycle parking and bike racks!