Racking up Points

The good news is a lot of places have started adding bicycle racks to accommodate people who arrive by bike. The bad news is, these racks don’t actually accommodate people who arrive by bike.

Putting a rack in some dark corner does not make a place bike friendly.

Racking up Points

I’d no more want to leave my bike there as a parent would want to leave their child here:

Racking up Points

Even when the bike rack is placed in plain daylight out front, it doesn’t necessarily mean we can actually lock up to it.

Racking up Points

Also, the bike rack you bought may have been designed to fit your budget but not actually designed to fit real bikes.

Racking up Points

These bike-friendly gestures are basically empty gestures. None of us will bother to lock up to these racks since we want to keep our bikes (and all it’s pieces) intact. It’s our ride home after all.

Instead, we will lock up to something, anything, more secure.

Racking up Points

So, when buying and installing a bike rack please consult someone who rides a bike.

Next Post
Previous Post

You may also like


  • Uncle Robot July 28, 2013   Reply →

    Oh yeah, and then there are the bikers who take up the entire bike rack parking parallel to it, the bikers that leave their bikes there forever until they grow Rip van Winkle rust beards.

    • Marge Evans July 30, 2013  

      so true!

    • hokan August 7, 2013  

      Those crappy wheel-bender racks? I park parallel to them or on an end because it’s the only way to get a u-lock through the rack and my bike frame.

  • Opus the Poet July 28, 2013   Reply →

    The local Target store has bike racks installed too close to walls on 3 sides meaning you can’t lock up to it parked straight in or crossways because the front wheel doesn’t fit past the rack far enough to get the lock on the frame and the rack, and you can’t put an adult bike there sideways between the walls to lock the frame against the rack. I have discussed the problem with the customer service desk, but no changes have been made yet.

    • Opus the Poet August 6, 2013  

      And my bike was stolen last week because my local grocery store doesn’t have a bike rack and their cart corrals are concrete curbs instead of tube racks. The area I was told to park and where I have been parking for years (since at least 2007) was not even covered by a TV camera when my cargo bike was stolen.

    • hokan August 7, 2013  

      My local target (Fridley Minnesota) did something similar. I wrote a letter to customer service and followed up with the store manager and the racks got moved. It took a long time, but it got fixed.

  • KillMoto July 28, 2013   Reply →

    When I lived near a Wal*Mart (stuff-mart), I’d take my bike right in. I’d throw stuff into the bike basket as my carriage and thus never buy more than I can carry. I never got a sideways glance.

    Nowadays I frequently bring the same bike right into Stop & Shop, and Whole Foods. Home Depot is a great place to just bring the bike into also.

    Maybe it’s the Americans with Disabilities Act that shields me – after all, my bike is an “assistive device to inoculate against metabolic syndrome”, if ever asked or challenged (it also has wheels and a chair. Wheel-chair!)

    I’d suggest cyclists carefully consider bringing their bikes into stores when the store layout and context is appropriate. The more people see bikes, the more people will see bikes…

    • Uncle Robot July 28, 2013  

      Fabulous idea!

    • traffic cyclist July 29, 2013  

      Yes, I just roll the bike into the local drug store–it has a spacious checkout space–and lean it against a shelf while I shop! Once in a while a clerk would ask me whether my bike is a fixed gear, though I wonder what management makes of me. Cycling in this multi-million-people city is rare enough that I imagine the populous sees a cyclist as a peculiarity to be tolerated, not (yet) an annoyance to scorn at. so the lack of racks is not an issue, just lock or park the bike anywhere reasonable.

    • papa July 29, 2013  

      Really? You;re one of the many cyclists giving the rest of us a bad name.
      Lock your bike outside and act like an adult.

    • Loneviking July 30, 2013  

      Yep, I walk into Lowes and Home Depot quite often with the bike. I’ve also done that with a local Mexican resturant. They have a big open area in the back of the resturant that I park my bike in and they have no problem with that. The looks on some of the customers faces are priceless though!

  • Jean July 28, 2013   Reply →

    Now do bikes and cowboy rodeos fit? We have the Calgary Stampede, which attracts over 1 million people annually. It’s a meg-rodeo, country ‘n western mega stars, pancake breakfast and souped up agricultural fair all rolled in one. It’s been around for last 150 yrs.

    For the first time I saw over 20 permanent bike racks. And they were sturdy, decent.

    Finally.. bike parking. Permanent.

    Expecting bike valet would be nice but waaaaaay too much for some folks, the cowboys arriving in their jeeps, pickup trucks and SUVs.

  • TopHat July 28, 2013   Reply →

    We have a local grocery store where have the bike racks are on the other side of the “your grocery cart will lock up past this point” line. I have a Madsen and stick my whole week’s worth of groceries in the back of my bike and I need my cart to get to my bike. Imagine if drivers couldn’t wheel their carts to half a parking lot!

  • Rachel July 28, 2013   Reply →

    I install racks in DC. Thank you, thank you for posting this. Bike racks aren’t something people think about enough.

    • Eric Herot July 28, 2013  

      Sometimes it seems like they don’t get thought about any further than “sell me the cheapest thing available that’s called a ‘bike rack’.”

  • Eric Herot July 28, 2013   Reply →

    Nary a truer post has been made on this blog.

    Do you ever get the feeling that most bike racks are just junked police barricades that people were able to pick up at the scrap yard for a few bucks? Given the vast quantities of money people spend on parking real estate, the scant provisions for bicycle parking are truly perplexing (especially at the city parking level).

  • Andy M-S July 29, 2013   Reply →

    My local Bruegger’s is on a bike trail, and so has a bike rack, but it’s in the back corner, essentially invisible from the store–which is otherwise surrounded by parking lot. I usually skip the rack and just lean my bike against the window and then sit next to it. So far, no complaints (and some nice compliments on the bike).

    I’m going to have to try the Stop’n’Shop trick!

  • Charlie July 29, 2013   Reply →

    Nothing would make me happier than to ban companies from selling dishrack-style bike racks. They are everywhere and terrible! Every indoor parking garage I’ve been to installs these, and my bike won’t fit over the top of them, so I’m extremely limited as to how many places I can actually lock up!

  • cycler July 29, 2013   Reply →

    OMG yes!
    My least favorite example is Whole Foods, who finally responded to incessant demands for more parking by putting in a wheelbender which is nearly impossible for any bike with fenders or a basket to lock to, and which blocks the more useful Wave style racks. Annoying greenwashing by a company that should know better. It would be so easy for big companies like WF to have a corporate spec which dictates a brand of rack, and the installation details.

    I have brought my bike into a couple of places without any issues. I think next time I go to Home Depot I’ll have to just wheel the bakfiets in with me- it’s more useful than a cart anyway.

    • dr2chase August 9, 2013  

      Local WF is okay (big looping pipes embedded in concrete), local HD is not (rack sits on dirt, can be knocked over with a gentle push).

      Right now, I rely on the cargo bike’s sheer self-locked mass and weirdness to make it unattractive to thieves. I suppose, in a pinch, I could add e-assist, just as anti-theft ballast.

  • Ryan Grimm July 29, 2013   Reply →

    Smite them! Hit them on hip and jowl!
    Show them what we need….

    Thanks, always good!

  • Carl July 29, 2013   Reply →

    It is AMAZING how no one seems to think about what will happen when you try to actually put a bike in the rack. It’s apparently always an afterthought. Nearby, a nice wave rack was installed in a useful location — except that if you lock your bike up to it, you have to choose to either block the sidewalk or stick a wheel out into the street, both of which are just asking for damage. For a long time, my official workplace bike rack was some screwed-together recycled plastic lumber held to an iron grate with rusty chain thinner than my bike cable.

  • CPTJohnC July 29, 2013   Reply →

    Good strip. I have this problem at work, where the rack is a) too close to the back wall; b) adjacent to a parking space, and the cars are forever parking well over the line and invading the bike parking and c) we share this wonderful space with motorcycle parkers, who pull in so far that access to the rack is all but impossible. The pros, however, are that it is protected from the elements, and relatively secure (underground garage with attendant during business hours.

    I long for the good old days when I parked my bike in my office!

  • Arun Ks July 29, 2013   Reply →

    I am from bangalore India. Bike parking is one of the main concerns always. Though people have not come to the point of installed bike racks for parking around here.I still hear the voice of a bike lover for parking space. your work is awesome,I love it.

  • Jen July 29, 2013   Reply →

    I think my local grocery store takes the cake: http://m.flickr.com/photos/10667334@N02/5985517863/ . Note that it’s literally installed as close to the wall as possible (the brackets are up against it). Fortunately, they’ve since converted a parking space to a very nice bike corral.

    • 2whls3spds August 7, 2013  

      I have seen several of those, primarily at Walmarts in Ohio or Indiana, Must be corporate policy…

  • Louise July 29, 2013   Reply →

    My work has these metal things sticking out of the concrete wall, which are too skinny for anything fatter than a road bike (many people ride mountain bikes up here). So I end up being that jerk who parks parallel to the rack. But I don’t really have any other choice.

  • Ryan July 29, 2013   Reply →

    I am lucky at work to have secure parking and wall mounted rack/hooks but I run into the “kid bike rack’ syndrome at many places around town, obviously the adults who approve the purchase and set up of those racks do not ride bikes ….

  • Jym July 29, 2013   Reply →

    ✧ As a kid I probably would have gone for those swings by the sheer cliff. Probably would’ve greeted the pirates, if timidly. But even then I knew those toaster bike racks were a problem.

  • David Borough July 30, 2013   Reply →

    I walked my bike through the lobbies at the Hotel Gloria and Copacabana Hotel in Gloria and Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, towards the elevator to return it to my room. The desk clerk hollered at me that I have to lock it up outside, cannot have it in my room, no bikes allowed in the hotel. I complied with the request, but it was particularly troubling rules for me for several reasons:
    1. I am a traveler, and have few resources in a foreign country for figuring out new ways of doing things, especially on day one. I need someplace that is like my home, a safe place for me and a few things.
    2. That us why I chose the Hotel Gloria, one of the finest hotels.
    3. Airplanes have extremely limited space. It seems like a reasonable rule that whatever is allowed on the airplane should be allowed in a hotel room, unpacked of course.
    4. They allow my shoes. Bike tires are clean from road riding, not mud riding. Seems like just a bias against bike riders. It is acceptable to hail a taxi on each trip, because that makes them money.
    5. Park it outside? A busy theatre next door, very dense pedestrian and taxi traffic, high crime area, particularly theft, huge income gaps. With no bike racks, I do not know the parking rules, or which objects are safe. With a million pedestrians passing my bike it will be bumped and scavenged. i will need to deinstall most add-ons, and I may not have transportation when I come down.

Leave a comment