urbanter

Student blog of the Stanford University Urban Studies Department

Ma’ayan Dembo: Bicycle Parking

This is the fifth post in a series chronicling Ma’ayan Dembo’s internship with the San Francisco Bike Coalition, for the Internship Capstone of the Urban Studies major at Stanford University.

One of my major projects this week at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition was to create guidelines for developers regarding bike parking, bike programs, and incentives for biking. Many developers approach the SFBC for approval of their project before submitting to the Mayor in order to improve their development proposal. The SFBC wanted to have a firm set of written requirements and suggestions for developers in order to streamline the process. Recently, San Francisco also passed a measure requiring developers to create bicycle-parking facilities accommodating one bicycle for every two dwellings, furthering the need for developer guidelines and recommendations from an organization that specializes in bicycles.

By looking online and also contacting developers, I created some guidelines of best practices for bicycle parking. The basic requirements were security, ease of use, and efficient space usage. Upon completing this work, I began to look at bike racks in a different light. For example, bicycle parking at the Bike Coalition is all vertical parking along walls—one rolls your bike up the wall and hangs the front wheel off of a mounted hook. This parking style is suitable for the space, since the Coalition is an indoor facility that one can only enter with permission. Moreover, if somebody tried to steal a bicycle, they would immediately be noticed since people are inside the building at all times within view of the bikes.

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With this newfound information regarding best practices, poor bicycle parking infrastructure at Stanford University sticks out at me like a sore thumb. First and foremost, many times the University chooses bike racks that are simply ineffective. For maximum security, one should easily be able to lock their frame and front wheel to the bicycle rack with a U-Lock. However, many times this is simply impossible depending on the shape of the rack and the build of the bike. While the best racks (U-racks and campus racks) are plentiful on this campus, they are not ubiquitous. The below bicycle rack stuck out especially to me—found in the bicycle parking structure of the Oak Creek Apartments, off campus housing that Stanford University owns and manages. While these apartments have security personnel and video monitoring, stealing entire bicycles or parts is incredibly easy here even with a basic understanding of bicycle mechanics. Moreover, this rack is incredibly inefficient since bicyclists can only park in every other loop since handlebars jut out farther than the space in between each spot. Either the racks themselves need to be modified, or they should be replaced with more secure and well designed bike racks.

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