It’s all about the bike rack

As more folks hop on their bikes to run errands, shop and go places–and Dave Shaw’s June blog post clearly illustrates this is happening–the demand for bike parking increases. And the type of bike parking I’m referring to is the basic bike rack.

I’m not talking about those old “wheel bender” bike racks like this one in a school yard

or this one in an urban park.

Although both of these bike racks see regular use due to their locations, neither of them provide adequate support for the wheel and frame, and they are problematic to secure front wheel and frame with a u-lock. (Secure your front wheel to the bike rack if it has a quick release. I’ve seen way too many bikes missing their front wheels at bike racks.)

The kind of bike rack I’m talking about is conveniently located to my destination and allows me to easily secure my front wheel and frame to the bike rack. This “hitching post” type of rack is located in front of one of my favorite coffee shops in Seattle, and there’s always a bike or two or three locked up to it.

This style of rack is popular in busy urban areas. Its slim profile allows it to fit nicely on sidewalks, and it’s easy to lock your front wheel and bike frame to the rack with a u-lock.

Secure front wheel and frame to rack.

Good rack but poorly secured bike.

I like the “staple” and “hitching post” racks for their functionality, but they have an industrial look to them. Bike racks can be functional and esthetically pleasing. This bike rack in downtown Redmond has a slim profile, is functional, and beckons the traveling cyclist. Although this bike is only secured through the frame, it could easily have been locked through the front wheel and frame.

Here are two other bike rack designs that are commonplace. One features a “coat hanger” for attaching your bike; the other has an undulating appearance like a snake or ribbon. Since these racks require more space, you don’t often see them on sidewalks.

Photo by Eileen Hyatt

Here’s an interesting and colorful bike rack at a Spokane pizza parlor. It incorporates old bike frames into the design–recycling at its best! Again, this is a design that supports the wheel and frame, and allows both to be locked to the rack.

This final bike rack sits outside a professional building in Redmond and houses–you guessed it–four dental offices.
If you use your bike for transportation, it’s helpful to know what constitutes a good bike rack. Someday, you might find yourself approaching a business or your workplace and asking them to install a bike rack for your use. You can find Bicycle Parking resources on Washington Bikes’s website, including our Shop by Bike Retailer’s Guide to Effective Bicycle Parking.

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