When it comes to storing bikes, there’s certainly no shortage of different solutions. From a humble row of Sheffield stands to vast multi-story facilities, cycle parking comes in many guises. So how do you know which system is best for your project?
Well, the first thing to bear in mind is context. Context is everything. The type of cycle parking you choose will largely depend on these main factors:
- How many parking spaces are required?
- What’s your budget?
- How much space do you have available?
- Who is going to be using it, and how frequently?
For instance, if you’re building a residential block with a few hundred units, then, you guessed it, you’re going to need at least a few hundred cycle parking spaces.
Within office buildings, folding bike lockers cater for more commuting options, and kit lockers allow workers to safely store extra clothes and belongings.
For busy rail stations, you might alter your focus to quick and open access parking, with high-density solutions providing a high volume of accessible spaces.
Every project is different, and the list could go on and on with different examples – all with their own distinct challenges.
So, what are the parking options? To help understand which solution works best for each scenario, here’s a breakdown of different products, from vertical wall-racks through to two-tier systems.
The Sheffield stand is probably the most recognisable bike stand in the UK. It’s highly durable, has lots of locking options, and will fit almost any style and size of bike, including cargo bikes. Above all that it’s accessible and familiar.
Unsurprisingly, then, you’ll find a row of Sheffield stands in even the most high tech of modern cycle stores, and you’ll often see those spaces filled first.
It’s a versatile parking solution, and when modified into ‘toast’ racks forms the go-to temporary and quick-to-install cycle parking solution.
The Sheffield stand is widely used for on-street public parking, and is found dotted along high streets and outside supermarkets. These are areas where space isn’t usually a concern, with stands able to line up along pavements.
But for train stations, high-density office blocks, and residential cycle stores, they’re more likely used in combination with more space efficient options, such as two-tier racks.
If you’ve got a high capacity basement bike store, including semi-vertical racks is an affordable way to maximise space. Semi-vertical racks provide reasonably low cost-per-space parking, and can operate in the low ceiling heights often found in internal stores.
They have a simple, durable design without moving parts. They function well in smaller stores due to the semi-vertical design, where the depth of the unit is reduced, and so doesn’t require the same footprint as a Sheffield stand or two-tier rack.
You will need to lift the bike, and the incline of semi-verticals will reduce accessibility for very heavy e-bikes, and especially for cyclists that cannot lift their bicycle with ease.
Vertical racks go one step further than semi-vertical, hanging the bike directly on the wall. Further decreasing the depth required for parking, they are more efficient and decrease the total footprint of the bike.
However, they do require full lifting of the bike, meaning not everyone will be able to use the racks.
Placed within a high capacity store, they can add a substantial number of parking spots with little space required, and cater for sportier cyclists that in our experience favour vertical parking.
It’s worth noting that, unlike semi-vertical racks, there are a number of design differences across vertical wall-racks. To work well, the rack needs to fully support the bicycle. Some variants can have basic tubing for the support, which can compromise security if it’s thinner than the lock being used.
Bike lockers come in several different shapes and sizes, but this category of storage is focused on extra security. On the smaller end are folding bike lockers, moving up to larger units for multiple bikes.
Importantly, they are individually lockable, adding the highest level of security for communal bike stores, or your own back garden.
Folding bike lockers are, as you’d expect, very space efficient. A set is often included in office cycle stores and is the default method of locking and storing folding bikes. For example, in the City of London, 15% of total parking provision for folding lockers makes a good allowance.
Kit lockers are a great addition for office cycling provision, too. You can keep your kit, helmet and valuables safe within the cycle store.
Bike lockers are most commonly found in residential gardens. The high security is welcome comfort for residents, and they of course provide full weather protection too. But within larger stores, you can choose to rent out locker spaces for those with more expensive bicycles.
Vertical lockers form a reduced footprint compared to horizontal lockers, and can be used in more compact spaces. Horizontal lockers mean no lifting of the bike is required, and are more accessible.
In the Netherlands, two-tier racks are a staple of cycle parking. If you haven’t seen a Dutch multi-story bike park, you clearly haven’t spent long enough on the internet.
They’re a very good high-capacity solution. For a lot of scenarios, they’ll be the most space-efficient, but not quite always. This is because they do require a minimum height clearance and loading space to function properly.
Compared to the Sheffield stand, it’s a much more complex design. There are, therefore, different design variants. Some include extra locking points, extra ergonomic features, and some do without the gas strut, for instance.
A common misconception is that the upper tier is dangerous or hard to use. This is sometimes the case, but that’s only with variants of the rack that lack a gas spring to assist lifting, or a lack of protection for the bicycle.
Without the gas strut and accessible locking points, the two-tier isn’t user-friendly. But with these features, even heavy e-bikes can be loaded on to the rack with relative ease.
The racks can often be found as high-density parking for larger bike stores, often with other racks included to increase accessibility options.
They can be housed in shelters for outdoor use, and are commonly used at train stations, university campuses, and commercial buildings.
For smaller installations, it’s unlikely they’ll be the best option. But with large projects needing to provide a high number of bike spaces, and with the right space available, they are the best you can get.
Bike hangars are a fantastic creation to improve on-street parking. If you’ve lived in a flat without dedicated bike parking, you’ll understand the lack of options available to you.
A hangar, usually provided by the local council, can be rented by the residents of an apartment building. Each user gets their own key-access to the hangar, and they share the space together.
The hangars have a superior level of security compared to regular on-street parking, with the added benefit of weather protection. Taking the room of a car parking slot, they’re relatively space-efficient too.
Currently, the niche is for councils and residential street parking, but it’s possible for smaller offices that a hangar will provide a cost effective and secure parking option.