Best planning and implementation toolbox


Purpose of Tool:

A bike parking area with clear signage and a playful design creates an attractive area to securely park a bicycle.
Bike parking programs and bike rack installations create bicycle parking spaces that are high-quality, safe and convenient for cyclists to use. Bicycle parking facilities are sometimes classified into Class I (long term) and Class II (short term) facilities; Class I spaces are usually lockers or racks in enclosed areas that provide enhanced protection from theft and are most often used at transit locations, and Class II spaces are typically bike stands or racks in unprotected and unsupervised areas.1

Benefits of Using Tool:
The lack of a secure bike parking space at public destinations keeps many people from using their bikes for basic transportation. If leaving a bicycle unattended, even for short periods, results in damage or theft, bicyclists will become discouraged and

A bike parking area with clear signage and cover protects locked bicycles and encourages all-weather bicycle usage.
choose other forms of transportation. If a bike rack does not properly allow for anchoring the bike or isn’t conveniently located, biking becomes a less attractive transportation option. The selection and placement of appropriate bicycle racks for short- and long-term bike parking has the following benefits for a community or region at large:
  • Quality bike parking options can encourage the use of biking for both commuting and leisure car trips, which is beneficial for both personal and environmental health,
  • Biking reduces traffic congestion and reduces the generation of pollutants such as smog, carbon dioxide and other green house gas (GHG) emissions, and
  • Bike parking and bike usage presents a flexible and cost-effective alternative to auto parking, particularly in congested areas that experience high levels of parking demand.

    Steps Involved to Use Tool:
    Bicycle parking strategies can be administered in a number of ways. Steps for use include the following:
  • Plan for new bike parking locations based on the intended use: determine whether cyclists will be commuting to or shopping at a particular location, conduct surveys and outreach events to identify potential high-demand bike parking areas.
  • Establish a suitable location to install bike racks, ensuring that adequate space exists between racks and other barriers (30” minimum) and that parked bikes won’t interfere with the movement of pedestrians or the use of other street furniture.2
  • Choose a rack for installation that accomplishes the following: supports the entire frame of the bicycle, allows the bike frame and one wheel to be locked to the rack when both wheels are left on the bike, allows the frame and both wheels to be locked to the rack if the front wheel is removed, allows the use of either a cable or U-shaped lock, is securely anchored, and is usable by a wide variety of sizes and types of bicycles, including those with water bottle cages and those without kickstands.3

    A sample bike parking area with recommended minimum distances between racks.
  • In areas where more than one rack can be accommodated, a ‘bicycle parking lot’ can be installed. The recommended minimum separation between parking aisles is 72”. In large bike parking lots, the bike parking area should have multiple entrances and, if possible, be protected from the elements with an awning or roof. These measures help keep cyclists comfortable while parking, locking, and unloading any cargo.4
  • The bicycle parking and rack area should be located along the main walkway to the building which it serves, and be no more than 120 feet (about a 30-second walk) from the entrance of the destination or building. Ideally, a bike rack should be near each building entrance, rather than combined into a distant bike rack parking area. 5

    Special Requirements to Use Tool:
    The availability of secure and convenient bicycle parking is critical to bicyclists, as fear of bicycle theft is a significant deterrent to bicycle use. Over 1.5 million bicycles are reported stolen every year in the U.S., highlighting the need for theft-proof parking solutions6. To prevent theft, bike racks and parking stations must run the length of the bike, enabling the user to lock the frame and wheels of the bike with a cable and/or U-shaped lock. Bike parking that is covered, well-lit, and visible without being in the way of pedestrians or motor vehicles is perceived to be more secure, and as a result, likely to be more heavily utilized by riders. Indoor bike parking is preferred by riders who use bikes for commuting trips. Many office buildings have some unused or “dead” space at the end of hallways, in the lobby, underneath stairs and on underground levels which are ideal places to install bike parking at a low cost. For example, a space of 14 feet by 6 feet can store up to twelve bicycles.

    Specials Resources Needed to Use Tool:
    Costs to purchase and install bike racks vary, but generally the cost for a bike rack for two cycles ranges from $150 to $300. The cost of a bike locker which can accommodate two bikes is higher, ranging from $1,000 to $4,000. These costs are typically paid by the property or business owner unless an area has an incentive or cost-sharing program. Some communities have adopted bicycle parking ordinances that require a minimum level of bicycle parking for different building types and land uses. Such ordinances typically include a number of bike parking spaces required per use, or a specified percentage (usually ranging from 10 percent to 30 percent) of auto parking available or required on site.7

    Communities / Agencies that Have Used Tool:
    The bicycle parking program in Madison, Wisconsin has been in place since 1988. The ordinance requires the provision of off-street bicycle parking for new developments, expansion of existing developments, and any changes in use that would require additional parking. The City also has a number of bike rack requirements to accommodate proper space size, access aisles, rack design and site location.8

    City of Madison Traffic Engineering Department
    Madison Municipal Building
    215 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Suite 100
    Madison, WI 53703
    Phone: (608) 266-4761  (Arthur Ross, Pedestrian-Bicycle Coordinator)

    City of Minneapolis Bicycle Rack Cost Sharing Program

    Metrics to Use to Monitor Tool Effectiveness:
    Research suggests that installing well-designed, high-quality bike racks is crucial to success, highlighted by the fact that improperly installed bike racks can cut bike parking capacity by as much as 90 percent9. Proper bike parking installations can reduce bicycle thefts, increase bike ridership and encourage the use of public transit at locations where Class II bike parking facilities (such as lockers) exist. The benefits of improved bike parking and other bike facility upgrades can be calculated specific to a geographic area by using the helpful online tool Benefit-Cost Analysis of Bicycle Facilities located at the following web address:  or

    List of Resources to Obtain Additional Info:
    See the following sources for more information:
  • Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP), Bicycle Parking Guidelines, 2002. Online:
  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, Bicycle Parking, 2009. Online:
  • Palmer Group, online:
  • City of Houston Bicycle Parking:


    1 See the Santa Cruz, California Bicycle Parking Ordinance for more details on bike parking classifications, online:
    2 Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP), Bicycle Parking Guidelines, page 3, 2002. Online:
    3 Online:
    4 Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP), Bicycle Parking Guidelines, page 4, 2002.
    5 Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP), Bicycle Parking Guidelines, page 5, 2002.
    6 Online:
    7 Arthur Ross, Madison Department of Transportation, WI, Municipal Bike Parking Requirements, comparison table of nine communities with bike parking ordinances, compiled January 1988. Table online:
    8 See: City of Madison Bike Rack Requirements, online:
    9 Victoria Transit Policy Institute, Online TDM Encyclopedia: Bike Parking, online: