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When you set out to create spaces intended for bike parking, the key outcome should be an area that allows cyclists to easily park their bikes with a reasonable expectation of security and protection for the short term.

This typically means less than two hours, on average.


If your goal is to provide more secure parking for longer periods of time, that would be considered bike storage, which has its own distinct factors and decisions that will need to be considered.

To create effective bike parking solutions, proper infrastructure and equipment is needed to create a secure and convenient short-term bike storage area. 

Successful bike parking solutions require proper infrastructure and equipment.

How expansive your bike parking solution – from a single rack installed on a sidewalk to a bike parking lot with multiple racks, bollards, signs, etc. – will depend on your individual demand and usage needs.

No matter the scope of your project, the following bike parking design guidelines will help you craft effective bike parking spaces.

The Need for Bike Parking

Without designated and organized bike parking, it is easy for problems to arise. This is true even in areas where only a few cyclists are present. And as the population becomes denser, these problems increase .

The lack of a quality bike parking options will lead to problems of clutter and damage. This will commonly been seen on  trees, street signs, site furnishings and other amenities. 

This is because a cyclist will choose the “best option” available to secure their bike, which usually ends up being one of these items.


Ultimately, the presence of secure and accessible bike parking will be the driving placemaking factor that influences the destination of a cyclist as it offers the best solution to store their bike for the short term.

To become a magnet that attracts customers and fosters a bike- and pedestrian-friendly community, the following facilities would benefit from providing bike parking:

  • Multifamily residential buildings
  • Schools/University campuses
  • Commercial businesses
  • Business offices
  • Parks, sidewalks and other municipal amenities
  • Public transit stations, pick-ups/drop-offs
  • Hospitals
  • Car parking lots and garages
  • Other public spaces intended for usage by the community

Site Planning

When determining location, planning, and designing bike parking, your focus should remain on convenience for the cyclist and the utility of providing the greatest security for the bike.


Convenience can be achieved by placing bike racks in a location that is easily accessible. To do this, the closest rack should be installed no more than 50 feet from the primary entrance of the building or intended destination.

If your bike parking area is placed a greater distance away or in out-of-the-way locations, cyclists may opt to use closer alternatives like street furniture, trees, or fencing instead of your area intended for bike parking.


The bike parking area should also be closer to the entryway than the nearest car parking stall. This makes bike parking more desirable than car parking to encourage cycling.

You’ll also want to consider paths that cyclists are most likely to travel in approaching your bike parking space. Bike parking should easily accessible and near these paths of travel. 

If it is too far off their travel path, the usage will be significantly reduced.

Increasing the visibility of the bike parking space helps the cyclist easily locate bike parking as they approach the destination. This can be done with signage or by making the rack itself as visible as possible with bright colors.


Adding paint on the ground to indicate and mark the designated area for bike parking can also increase the convenience factor.

Bike Security

Commercial bike racks installed as part of your bike parking are key components of providing the most secure environment. 

Placing bike parking in an area with pedestrian traffic adds an additional element of security. This provides the area with passive surveillance and is a further deterrent of potential theft.

When bike parking is set behind buildings, in alleyways or other out-of-sight locations, it gives thieves more opportunity to beat the security of the lock, rack, or installation and steal the bike.

The bike parking should also be visible from the destination. This lets cyclists keep an eye on their bike and be more confident about the security. It also provides another level of passive surveillance from other people at the destination.

Determining Number of Bike Parking Spots

Many cities, towns or other governmental organizations have set minimum ordinances or other mandates. These are the best places to determine the number of bike parking spaces needed. is a great resource to begin your search.

You can usually find bike parking guidelines and other ordinances regarding required bike parking capacity, placement and right-of-way in a city’s public works or parks and recreation department.

Another great resource for guidelines and ordinances is bicycle advocacy organizations. They are communities of cyclists who live the bike lifestyle and have years of resourceful insights when it comes to bike parking. They usually have at the ready or can easily direct you to local bike parking resources as well.

The Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) also provides recommendations for minimum parking requirements in their Bicycle Parking Guidelines resource:

Hospitals/Health Care: 1 space for each 20,000 sq. ft. of floor area | Minimum 2 spaces

Schools: 1 space for every 20 students of planned capacity | Minimum 2 spaces

Colleges and Universities: 1 space for every 10 students of planned capacity | Minimum 2 spaces

Business Offices: 1 space for each 20,000 sq. ft. of floor area | Minimum 2 spaces

Off-street Parking Lots/Garages: 1 per 20 auto spaces | Minimum 6 spaces

For more urbanized or bike-active communities, plan for another .5 – 1 spaces per volume.

Installation Mounting Options

When installing a sidewalk bike rack there are three main options:

  • In-ground Mount
  • Surface Mount
  • Rail Mount
  • Freestanding
An in-ground mount is the most secure. With this mount, the rack is placed with the feet a designated distance below the surface level. Concrete is then poured embedding and securing the legs.



A surface mount involves securing the rack to the surface with wedge anchors and metal flanges on the rack. When surface mounting, it is recommended that tamper-proof hardware be used. This will help restrict a thief’s ability to unsecure the rack from the ground.


A rail mount has multiple racks bolted to rails. The rails can then be anchored to the surface or left freestanding. 


Freestanding bike racks are not anchored and rest on the surface. Bike racks that have a freestanding mount should have an enclosed locking element. 



Installation Mounting Surfaces

By far the best surface material for installing bike racks is going to be concrete. This is the most secure option for installing a bike rack. It is also the least expensive. In-ground and surface mounts are options with concrete. 

When placing racks on an asphalt surface, there are two main options. The first is to do an in-ground mount by cutting holes in the asphalt for the legs. Then place the rack and pour concrete footings to secure the rack.

The second option would be to use racks on rails. The entire unit can be left freestanding or the rails can be anchored to the asphalt.

For pavers, they should be removed, concrete footings poured, and the rack installed in-ground. Racks on rails are also an option for this surface material.

Surface mounts should be avoided with pavers. They can be easily loosened, making it possible to remove the rack from the ground. A thief can then slide the lock off the rack and take the bicycle. 

For more natural surfaces like dirt and grass, pouring concrete footings for an in-ground installation is the best decision. Freestanding racks on rails would be the next best option.

Laying Out Bike Racks

How you lay out your bike parking will affect how easy it is to access and use. When racks are placed too close to objects or not spaced properly, it can reduce or eliminate the available bike parking spaces.

Bike Rack Clearance and Spacing

The primary scheme of your bike parking design should incorporate adequate clearance between the bike rack and walls, other fixed objects and driving or parked cars.

In general, bike parking should allow for:

  • Enough end and side clearance to operate bicycles into and out of the parking area
  • Adequate clearance around the rack for cyclists to access and securely lock the bicycle to the rack from the side
  • Accessing the rack from all sides so all available parking spaces may be used

The orientation of your bike racks in relation to these elements will also necessitate different placements. 

When laying out bike racks parallel to walls or other objects, we recommend:

  • Setback of 48" recommended | 36" minimum from walls and other fixed objects
  • Setback of 24" from roads/parked cars
  • Setback of 96" from walls to create aisles or allow walkways for pedestrians on sidewalks
  • Spacing of 72" recommended | 48" minimum between multiple racks


When laying out bike racks perpendicular to walls or other objects, we recommend:

  • Setback of 48" recommended | 36" minimum from walls and other fixed objects
  • Setback of 36" recommended | 24" minimum from roads/parked cars
  • Setback of 132" from walls to create aisles or allow walkways for pedestrians on sidewalks
  • Spacing of 48" recommended | 36" minimum between multiple racks

Proper spacing between perpendicular bike racks is necessary to avoid handlebar conflicts and allow access from the side of the bike.

Related content: Standard Bike Parking Dimensions


Multi-rack Spacing

If selecting a bike rack that incorporates multiple racks, the spaces between racks should be at a distance that allows access to the bicycle from the side and avoids handlebar conflicts

With multi-rack solutions, vertically-staggered racks can accomplish the task with less space needed between racks, reducing the overall footprint.


Bike Rack Selection

The ground bike rack you select to use will have the greatest affect as to how secure your bike parking space will be and its ease of use. There are many racks to choose from and they differ in their security, dimensions, spacing options, capacity for parking bikes and more.

We cover the topic of selecting commercial bike racks comprehensively in another guide and is worth reviewing to ensure you are not installing bad bike racks that will go unused and draw the dissatisfaction of users.

As it relates to bike parking, the essential elements of bike racks are worth discussing here. The bike rack solution used in your bike parking must be capable of the following. 

Locking the Frame and Wheel to the Bike Rack

Madrax-Lock-Bike-to-FrameThe primary feature of a rack for bike parking is that it should allow both the frame and at least one wheel to be secured to the rack using a u-style lock. U-racks and Post and Ring style bike racks are common examples of these racks.

Grid racks and others that only hold the wheel leave bikes susceptible to theft as the frame can easily be removed from the wheel.

Supports the Bicycle in Two Places

Racks that only hold the wheel are also known to damage bicycles as the full weight of a bicycle is entirely supported by the wheel. This typically results in bent wheels.


A bike rack should generate two points of contact on the frame of the bicycle. This will provide proper support for the bicycle.  

Racks that support the frame, but with only one point of contact, make it more likely the wheel of the bike will turn and cause the bike to fall. This causes damage to the bike and creates clutter on the ground.

Resists Cutting, Bending or Deformation

The bike rack should also resist cutting, bending or deformation. Many thieves will attack the rack to gain access to and steal a bike.

Make sure the racks used as part of your bike parking are thick enough and resist cutting with common hand tools that can be carried/concealed in backpacks or coats.

Securely Mounts to the Ground

The rack also needs elements that allow it to be securely installed or mounted to the ground. When a rack can be dislodged from the ground it becomes useless.

As covered earlier, the most secure method would be an in-ground installation. Racks with legs that can be encased in concrete are preferred.  

Bike racks with flanges for surface mounting should be chosen to use when installing on existing concrete surfaces.

For bike parking that will be created on asphalt, pavers or natural surfaces the preferred choice is in-ground mounted racks using poured concrete footers. The alternative solution is to select bike racks on rails.

U Bike Racks

Known as U Bike Racks, Inverted U Racks and Staple Racks, this style of bike rack may be the most simple, but offers the key features desired for
bike parking. It supports the bicycle frame in two places, helping to keep it upright.


It allows for locking of the frame and a wheel to the rack. The
rack is durable and one of the most secure. This type of rack also comes in many design styles that go beyond just a “U” shape.

Post & Ring

Post & Ring bike racks have a been a bike parking favorite for years. They
provide good security and support for bicycles. The height of the ring
needs to be kept in mind. It may be difficult to lock a frame and wheel to
the ring it if it too high.


Wheel-well Secured

Wheel-well secured bike racks add an additional level of support that
keeps the bicycle from falling over. The well also ensures bicycles are
parked in the proper position on the rack. Racks with staggered vertical
heights allow for more bikes to be parked in the footprint.




The number of people choosing bikes as a mode of transportation continues to grow in the United States. This not only makes bike parking a desirable feature, many communities have established or are writing requirements for bike parking making it a necessity.

Make sure you nail the details of bike parking for your project or facility by tapping into the experience and resources of Madrax. Contact us today and let us know what you need to accomplish. We’ll partner with you to work towards a successful solution.