Choosing Bike Racks

Rack Styles

The most useful style of rack is the “inverted U”. These are the kind of  racks that town has been installing.

This style is preferred because it can support a bike at two points to prevent it from falling over. These are easy to lock a bike to since the rack is at the center of the bike. They can be purchased as a single inverted U that can be permanently affixed in the ground or in multiple units (sometimes called a “corral”) that can be permanently bolted to the ground or moved seasonally.

The new town racks are Angled Stadium Racks made by Bike Fixation (formerly Saris), which are welded to steel channels so they don’t need to be embedded in the ground. The inverted Us are angled so the entire rack takes up less space, which is important here in town.

We suggest following the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) Essentials of Bike Parking guide. It provides recommendations on what makes for a high-quality bike rack. The Town follows these guidelines when making its own purchases.

 Bike corrals in parking spaces at the Johnson Street Parking Lot in Provincetown (2018). Each corral can hold 10 bicycles.

Bike corrals in parking spaces at the Johnson Street Parking Lot in Provincetown (2018). Each corral can hold 10 bicycles.

 

In confined spaces, small racks work well for squeezing in a couple of bikes here and there or in a row.

  • Single inverted-U racks are common in cities and are often along sidewalks in business districts. These are sometimes called “staples,” “stalls,” or “stands.” Boston, MA uses these extensively.
  • "Post-and-ring," "hitch," or "lollipop" racks are another good solution for tight spaces. They attach with just one post to the ground (usually embedded in a cement sidewalk). These are the standard in Cambridge, MA and Toronto, ON.
 Single staple rack in Boston (Photo source:  https://flic.kr/p/5hhJdf )

Single staple rack in Boston (Photo source: https://flic.kr/p/5hhJdf)

 Single post & ring rack installation on a sidewalk (Photo source:  https://flic.kr/p/7aWxo3

Single post & ring rack installation on a sidewalk (Photo source: https://flic.kr/p/7aWxo3

 

In short, multiple inverted-U's on rails are best for larger applications, while individual inverted U's or post-and-rings are well suited to small installations.

 Inverted-U's on rails create a free-standing "corral" or "stadium" rack

Inverted-U's on rails create a free-standing "corral" or "stadium" rack

 Inverted U or Post-and-ring racks

Inverted U or Post-and-ring racks


As an alternative to commercial-style bike racks, there are also a lot of creative, art-inspired bike racks. The nice thing about art racks is that they are more attractive when they’re not in use, which would make for a nice art installation in the off season when demand for bike parking is low.

The downside is that folks often can’t tell that they’re bike racks, so they don’t always get used.

 A decorative bike rack has become yard art (note the wire strung on top to keep birds away).

A decorative bike rack has become yard art (note the wire strung on top to keep birds away).


RACKS TO AVOID

  • Grid or schoolyard racks that you lift up the front tire and squeeze it in between metal bars (these are known as “wheelbenders” since they can damage the bike’s front wheel when the bike inevitably falls over);

  • Indoor garage racks that you’d put on the floor that only hold the front tire;

  • Wave or loop racks, which don’t support a bike frame in two places;

  • Coathanger racks, which don’t support a bike frame in two places.

 Wave racks

Wave racks

 Tilted wave racks

Tilted wave racks

 Coathanger racks

Coathanger racks

 Grid or schoolyard racks

Grid or schoolyard racks


Materials

In terms of material, a galvanized finish is preferred since the painted steel racks we have around town tend to rust quickly and deteriorate in the salt air (the racks installed at Town Hall in 2010 were replaced in 2018 due to corrosion).

If you want a color for the rack, choose a thermoplastic coated metal rack.

Wood racks might look nice at first, but they don’t hold up in our weather and they are usually designed like a schoolyard rack so they’re not very useful (you see some of these in the Seashore). Plastic racks fall in the same category. 

Location

Your bike racks should be either in the same place as your car parking or near the main entrance to your business or building (no further than 50 feet). Don’t put them in back by the dumpster or under the stairs. If lots of your employees commute by bike, consider a separate bike parking area for them so that your customer bike parking isn’t full.

If possible, locate the racks on a solid, paved surface. Bike kickstands won’t keep a bike upright on mulch, shells, gravel, or grass. If you do place the racks on grass, be mindful if you have a sprinkler system — if you’re watering the bike racks, they (and the bikes) will get damaged quickly by rust.

Rack manufacturer Dero has an easy to use and comprehensive guide to choosing and locating bike racks that goes into more detail (PDF): https://www.dero.com/bike-parking-guide/

Capacity

How many bike parking spaces do you need? Since bikes are a primary mode of transportation in Provincetown, here are suggested minimums:

  • one bike space per bedroom;
  • one bike space for each car parking space required by zoning;
  • one bike space for every 4 restaurant seats.

There are no defined bike parking requirements in Provincetown, but the regulatory boards often condition special permits to require bike parking spaces. Check your permits to see if there were specific numbers of spaces requested in your permit approvals.

Layout

When you’re figuring out where to put your racks, consider the spacing. Inverted U or post & ring racks should be spaced 36” apart. You’ll need clearance both front and back, so keep the rack at least 36” from any obstacle, like walls, shrubs, or adjacent walkways. See the APBP and City of Cambridge standards linked at the bottom of this page for more detail.

Cost

Prices of racks range from $100 for a single inverted U rack to over $2,000 for a large capacity bike corral. Consider shipping costs in your budget as well, since racks aren’t typically stock items and need to be shipped to you.

Manufacturers

No endorsement is intended by listing these particular makers; they are just some we have looked at whose racks meet basic APBP guidelines:

The City of Portland, Oregon has a great list of many more manufacturers: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/339600

Online Retailers

Again, no endorsement intended here – these are just a couple of online retailers we know of who carry some racks that meet the APBP guidelines:

Local bike shops may be able to order some bike racks, but they are usually the grid type which is not recommended.

More information

Questions? Contact Rik Ahlberg at rik@bikeprovincetown.org