Ever driven your car into a car park where you can’t actually park the car without doing countless manouvers to actually get between those lines into your designated car spot?
And have you ever realised that once you’ve made it in you can’t open the driver’s door, the passenger door or any door and you’ll have to get out of the boot? Of course you could just be a really bad driver or you could be in a really bad car park. Once you’ve emerged from your car’s boot chances are you’re feeling grumpy.
Car Parking: the tipping point
When it comes to car parks there’s a tipping point. That’s the point at which you can’t get out of your car because the cars on either side of you have parked you in and you can’t open your car door to get out. And because it’s so obvious that point at which things stop being functional, space can’t be overly compromised in car parks.
It’s the same with bike parking. Except when it comes to bicycle parking often the people putting bicycle racks in don’t realise that if the bike parking isn’t spaced correctly ie. think of racks like the designating lines of car parks – then it makes it difficult for cyclists. And if it’s too difficult cyclists can either:
- take their bikes somewhere else to park
- stop riding and get back into their cars and add to the congestion, poor air quality and the grumpiness index of their city of town
DA requirements and Usability for Bike Parking
When it comes to bicycles architects, developers and builders often think that if you meet the DA requirements by putting in one multi bike parking rack – one rack that promises to park six bicycles – that’s all there is to it.
It’s an attractive solution on many fronts and very easy to understand why it’s a popular option. The incorrectly spaced multi bike rack is:
- comparatively cheap even if it’s a waste of money if the spacing is too close
- easy (one product claims to park six bikes)
- quick to install (only a few bolts needed to fix it to the ground)
- likely to make you feel good – you’ve done your best and provided lots of bike parking.
Unfortunately I’ve yet to see one used to park six, seven or eight bicycles as promised because the divisions are always placed too closely together at around 250 mm centres rather than 600 mm centres (that is 600 mm from the middle of each rack or rung to the next one) needed for functionality. This 600 mm centre features in the current Australian Standard and in standards and guidelines internationally as it allows the cyclist:
- easy access to put their bicycle on the rack ie. no handlebar or pedal clash and no grease on clothes from an adjacent bike
- room to bend down and lock their bicycle at two points
- space to remove their pannier or accessories like lights
Bike Parking Functionality means proper bike rack spacing
If bike racks don’t have inbuilt functionality and a dysfunctional multi bike rack is used the problem of bike parking is then transferred to the end user – the cyclist.
Despite human ingenuity and the ability of cyclists to interpret racks in creative ways – if the actual spaces in multi bike racks don’t meet accessibility standards ie. 600 mm centres, you’re going to have handlebar clash and pedals are going to intertwine.
People with expensive bikes will avoid such public bike racks. Just like a car driver would avoid a facility where the car spaces don’t allow enough room to get in and out of easily, so too will cyclists take their bikes elsewhere.
So next time you head out to your local shopping centre, transport interchange or college check out the bike parking. Chances are you’ll see a lonely multi bike rack promising parking for six bikes but delivering for only one or two. Close by chances are you’ll see bikes attached to nearby rails or posts, maybe even creating access issues for motorists or pedestrians. But if you get it right first time by:
- allowing enough access for cyclists,
- providing bike racks that allow locking for both the front and back wheels
- installing bicycle racks that support the bicycle properly
- spacing bike racks properly, then your bike parking will work and cyclists will opt for the easiest and most secure option. And the win for you? Your bicycle parking will be useful and not an expensive waste of money.
Suzanne Kowalski-Roth is Manager at www.bikestorage.com.au – a leading Australian Standards compliant bike parking designer, supplier and installer