November 10, 2023
Active Travel
Cycle Storage Guides

Selecting The Best Bike Racks For Your Cycle Shelter

By Jonathan Oldaker

Bike shelters and canopies are essential for outdoor cycle parking projects.

While racks and stands on their own are adequate for some short term parking – such as supermarkets or high streets – there is rarely an instance where not using some kind of canopy or shelter is preferred.

Protection can come in the form of open access canopies, enclosed Cubic-style shelters, caging, cycle hangars, or polycarbonate shelters, and helps to keep bicycles protected from inclement weather, and can grant extra security too.

But installing the right shelter for the right project is vitally important for effective cycle parking. The location, capacity, and bike racks are all aspects that need to be properly considered.

With that in mind, here are three key questions you should ask yourself when deciding which bike racks to use in your shelter or canopy.

Glasgow science centre

Glasgow Science Centre cycle hub uses a combination of two-tier bike racks and Sheffield stands

Does your shelter need to be open or enclosed?

The simplest way of differentiating cycle shelters is between open and enclosed variants. 

Open shelters: 

  • Include all canopies.
  • Are not enclosed or lockable. 
  • Tend to be more suitable for short-stay parking.
  • Found at shopping centres, football grounds, train stations, or anywhere where the bike is highly unlikely to be left overnight.

Enclosed shelters:

  • Will have some kind of gate and locking system
  • Usually with keyturn, digi-code, or RFID access. 
  • More commonly found at places of work, hospitals, residential projects, or anywhere where greater security and protection is beneficial.

As a rule of thumb, all bike racks and stands should include secure locking points, no matter if located within a gated shelter or not. This being the case, if you’re using two-tier bike racks in an open shelter, we’d always recommend locking bars to allow double-point locking.

In theory, it is more important to have greater access to locking points in an open shelter, where there is a lower overall level of security.

Designated Sheffield stands for accessible, cargo, and non-standard bicycle use is always recommended.

However, Sheffield stands are not the most space-efficient, meaning you won’t be able to keep as many bikes under cover with stands alone. 

Using a mixture of racks where possible is preferable, with reserved accessible Sheffield stand spaces.

cycle canopy at university campus

A.R.U. Peterborough University T-Hide Canopy with Cobra bike racks

How much height do you have available?

Your shelter height could be limited by a building overhang, windows, budget, or an aesthetic preference. Critically, the height of a shelter will dictate whether you’re able to install two-tier bike racks or not.

Our Two-tier height version of the Cubic shelter is 3000mm or 3100mm, depending on whether or not you include a green sedum roof. That’s just under a metre taller than the standard single-tier height shelter.

With a two-tier shelter or canopy, you’ll be able to substantially increase the cycle capacity per square metre. 

Two-tier bike racks will roughly double the cycle storage capacity in the same area as Sheffield stands, meaning you can keep a greater amount of bicycles undercover.

For canopies, the same rules apply. A Two-tier height canopy will allow to store more bicycles under the same width canopy. For single-height open shelters, Cobra racks are more space-efficient than regular stands, and still provide solid frame locking points.

west middlesex hospital bike shelter

NHS West Middlesex Hospital with an enclosed Cubic shelter, two-tier bike racks, and bike pump

Do you require additional space inside your shelter?

One of the better reasons for installing a Cubic-style shelter is the extra space you can factor in.

Folding bike lockers, for example, require relatively little space and provide additional, lockable space for Brompton bicycles.

With higher density racks, such as two-tier racks and semi-vertical racks, you may be able to leave a little extra space within the enclosed shelter to provide a bike pump or a larger bike repair station and pump unit.

Lockers can also provide storage space for helmets and clothing, turning a shelter into a cycle hub where active commuters can spend longer and look forward to arriving at.

We always aim to provide helpful and honest advice when choosing between cycle parking options. Get in touch with details about your project today.

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