What makes quality cycle parking? Usability? Safety? Durability?
When designed and installed correctly, cycle parking should be meeting all these criteria. And it’s cycle parking industry standards that aim to ensure that level of care and consistency.
But there isn’t a universal international cycle parking standard, instead there are national and regional standards and handbooks. How do they compare?
We’ve designed this guide to provide an overview of important standards documents. Laying out the main points of each, and comparing their similarities and differences.
The Netherlands have one of the world’s best cycling reputations. Famed for their cycling infrastructure, the parking standards guide is, as you’d expect, detailed and well thought out.
FietsParKeur is the name of the most widely used cycle parking standard. Its aims are to guarantee quality, durability, and user-friendliness across bicycle parking.
In 1999, in collaboration with various manufacturers, designers, buyers, policymakers, and user representative bodies like Fietserbond (an association representing Dutch cyclists), the foundation began testing and awarding certification for cycle parking systems.
There are over 30 requirements that need to be met. No matter the system–two-tier, bike locker, or otherwise–it will need to comply with requirements including usability, preventing bicycle damage, and durability.
Bicycle parking systems are tested and certified twice a year by the independent Board of Experts. To guide this process, there is a Standard Document for Bicycle Parking Systems. It was recently developed in 2019 and is known as FietsParKeur 2.0.
The document separates the different types of bicycle parking into three categories.
- Single layer (single-tier parking)
- Multi layer (two-tier parking)
- Vertical (vertical bicycle parking spaces)
All systems must meet a selection of basic requirements. Here’s a run down of the key criteria:
- The parking system states that the minimum distance, centre-to-centre, between two parked bicycles must be no less than 375mm.
- For systems with moving parts, such as two-tier racks, the movements must be monitored, and moved gradually. That means that if letting go of the system at any point means uncontrolled movement, consequently causing danger to the use, it won’t meet the standard.
- The surfaces of the cycle rack must be smooth, with no rough patches from incorrect welding, again to protect the safety of the user.
- When using the system correctly, no damage should be caused to the bicycle. For example, by sharp protruding objects or friction of parts.
- The contact points, for example the handles, of the system must not be made of metal, but a powder coated finish is permitted.
Following these basic requirements, distinctions are made depending on the system. This includes:
- You must be able to use the system with both hands once the bicycle is in the rack, i.e. you don’t have to use a hand to hold the bike in place.
- There’s also data on separate groups – elderly and children – for which the maximum height and force needed to use the racks must not exceed. For example, the threshold power in newtons that an adult can operate the rack is listed as 200.
- There are maximum loading times given, too. For short-term parking (leaving the bike no longer than an hour), it’s five seconds; for long-term parking (longer than an hour) the time is 20 seconds.
- Racks need to withstand 15,000 movements to pass durability recommendations. If the system passes 30,000 movements, it can be considered ‘future-proof’.
The Danish ‘Bicycle Parking Manual’ was drawn up 2010, following concern that despite a high volume of cycle lanes, cycle parking in the country wasn’t adequate.
It outlines recommendations for dimensions of public street parking, with advice on different cycle parking systems added too.
The manual provides ‘typical’ bicycle dimensions of 1800mm length, 1250mm in height, and 500-700mm width.
Therefore, a distance of 600mm between stands is suggested to meet their standard. If necessary, ‘ordinary’ bicycles may be 500mm, but suggests when at this distance there is a tendency that cyclists will just use every other stand instead. Conversely, if the gap is 700mm, then the system risks bikes being double parked within the gap.
As for aisle width, the manual suggests a 1750mm between perpendicular cycle racks.
For angled parking, the distance between two bikes of 400-500mm is listed as acceptable, with the aisle width also decreasing to 1000mm – with just one side of access.
Australian Standards are guided by the AS 2890.3 (2015). It’s a 36 page document and was developed with industry leaders.
The standards contain guidance on ensuring that bike stores have suitable racks for all bicycle types and sizes, and that spacing and aisle widths are accessible.
Here’s an overview of some of the key criteria:
- Dimensions wise, the standards set out an ‘envelope’, which is the overall footprint in which each bike must fit and not overlap. This envelope is 1800mm in length, 1200mm tall, and 500mm wide.
- The standards separate parking systems into static and dynamic, which is unique amongst the standards documents in this guide.
- For static racks (that’s a rack with no moving parts, in a fixed position), they must follow the previously mentioned envelope, with a point to point distance of no less than 500mm.
- For dynamic racks (a rack where the bike is moved dynamically with the rack into position), the envelope may be reduced to 400mm. But only if there is a 300mm vertical or horizontal offset between adjacent bikes. This counts only for dynamic systems, so for example if the lower tier of a two-tier system is static, the distance can’t be reduced to 400mm.
- Double tier bicycle parking must have a lift assist mechanism to allow ease of access to the upper tier. If the bikes aren’t staggered on the upper tier, then a 700mm envelope distance must be obeyed.
- Within the bicycle parking system, an access aisle (the passageway) between racks has to be free of obstacles. This can, however, comprise a shared space, like a pavement or driveway. The minimum aisle width for horizontal and vertical parking is 1500mm. Multi-tier parking and bicycle lockers 2000mm.
- Finally, there is an additional requirement in the document which states that a bike parking facility must include a minimum of 20% ground level, horizontal parking spaces. This ensures that those unable to lift bikes, or owners of non-standard bikes, have somewhere to park.
The United Kingdom
So, what about cycle parking standards in the UK? Currently, the most comprehensive standards are those set by the London Cycling Design Standards (LCDS) document.
The LCDS says cycle parking should be:
- Fit for purpose
- Well located
Parking should accommodate different types of cycle, including hand cycles, tricycles, and tandems. They also recommend an inclusive approach, with a focus on step-free access, sign-posting parking correctly, and reserving places for disabled access wherever possible.
For Sheffield stands and other tubular street parking, the LCDS suggest a bay width of 2000 mm, and a minimum of 1000mm, but recommended 1200mm spacing between stands.
For two-tier systems, TFL recommends a minimum aisle width of 2500mm (beyond the lowered frame) to allow bikes to be loaded. If there are racks either side of the aisle, this increases to 3500mm. The minimum height requirement for two-tier systems is 2600mm.
Turvec find that the 2500mm recommended loading distance is overly generous, and from experience 1800mm-2000mm is adequate.
The document adds that, for two-tier, careful consideration must be given to ensure that: the stands minimise conflict with pedestrians; there is enough ‘natural surveillance’ to ensure users are confident to lock and leave their bike; that the design means bicycles can be locked by securing at least one wheel and the frame to the system.
Each of these three standards are set out in their own way, with different areas of focus, and most crucially, distinct dimensions.
The LCDS standards are directed specifically at London and its high density street parking demands, whereas the Australian standards are more focused around cycle stores parking systems. For the FietsParKeur, the guidelines are specific on the use of materials and overall usability.
The envelope created by the Australian standards provides a simple method of calculating dimensions across different systems.
Directly comparing dimensions, the minimum centre-to-centre distance between bikes varies quite dramatically. The AS2890.3 gives 500mm, whereas the FietsParKeur document states 375mm.
When it comes to aisle width between two-tier systems, the Australian standards suggest 2000mm, compared to 2500 for the LCDS. In Denmark, this distance is reduced to just 1750mm.
Other than dimension comparisons, there is a focus on usability across all documents. Ease-of-use and safety, for both the cyclist and the bicycle, are the central concepts.
At Turvec, we’ll continue to monitor the development of new standards both in the UK and internationally.