Bike Parking Planning? What You Need to Know

Bike Room 1

How to plan an efficient bike parking installation without sacrificing the end user experience.

Gavin Brink // 01.06.2016

More people are turning toward the bicycle as a desirable and viable form of transportation. With the increase in ridership, the demand for better bicycle infrastructure is rising. Providing bike parking has become a higher priority for new building projects as well as retrofitting existing buildings both commercial and residential. Learn what you need to know about bike parking planning for efficient use of space while providing ease of use for your bicycle riders.

As we know, there is a shift occurring in our cities and towns in terms of how people are choosing to get around. More people are opting for alternative forms of transportation with the bicycle becoming a very popular choice. Personally, I find the bicycle the most effective form of transportation around Seattle’s increasingly bad car traffic. The bicycle allows me to ride a more direct route to work, usually involving the beautiful Sammamish River Trail and I get a fantastic workout to wake me up in the morning or de-stress after work. Obviously, I am not alone when you look at the increase in the number of cyclists commuting to work.

Naturally with this increase comes the need for bicycle related infrastructure or end of trip facilities such as bike parking, lockers, showers, repair stands and so on. At Sportworks, I am responsible for creating bike parking layouts and I have noticed a significant uptick in the quantity of bike parking layout requests that are sent to us by building owners, city planners, developers, architects and the like. Not only the quantity, but also the quality with more and more requests for the inclusion of on-ground ADA accessible bike parking, repair stands, pumps, bicycle accessory vending machines, lockers and so on.

Although more people involved in the design of buildings are considering bicycle infrastructure during the design process, many easily avoidable mistakes are still being made. This leads me to the reason for this post. The following is a guide to help those of you who are designing and/or allocating space for bike parking so that you can avoid the pitfalls and ensure a practical, user-friendly solution for your cyclists.

If you are new to bike parking, the APBP Bike Parking Guideline is in my mind still the best place to start as it details different bike rack solutions, space requirements for bikes, aisle way clearances and determining the best location for bike parking. The full guideline can be purchased or a free and very informative summary, “Essentials of Bike Parking: Selecting and Installing Bike Parking that Works (2015)”, can be downloaded at This guide will help get you off on the right foot. In addition to referencing the guide I would suggest engaging your bicycle user group to see what their needs will be. Remember that every cyclist is going to have a unique sets of needs and not all can be catered to, so you will have to determine what the priorities are for your installation.

Once you have narrowed down where you want to install bike parking, what bike rack options you will use and whether you need any lockers, repair stands, pumps and the like, I would suggest engaging a company that can provide some further guidance or even a bike parking layout. Sportworks provides this service and the best part is you get a fully optimized bike parking layout with full dimensions and specific bike parking capacity. So you really have nothing to lose and we do the work for you!


On the other hand, if you have the time and inclination and want to design the bike parking yourself here are some of the things you should consider:

Space per bike: Bikes are big and awkward and they take a lot of room to park in a practical manner. In general, most bike parking can be classed as horizontal (or on-ground) and vertical (or hanging). For horizontal bike parking allocating a rectangular area 24” wide by 72” long for each bike will ensure sufficient space is provided. I would also suggest checking whether your city has a code mandating this space allocation. Vertical bike parking on the other hand typically incorporates a vertical stagger to mitigate handlebar interference and thus bikes can be parked closer together. For vertical bike parking, allocating a rectangular area 13” to 18” wide by 40” long for each bike would be advisable.

There is also one further type of bike parking class, and that is horizontal racks with vertical stagger. Examples of this type of rack are our VelopA two-tier racks, which position the adjacent bikes at a different height to mitigate handlebar interference. This allows bikes to be parked closer together. For this type of bike parking, allocating a rectangular area of 16” to 24” by 60” long for each bike is advisable. Again, you may live in a city that has a code mandating the minimum space required between bikes so make sure to determine this before you start laying out your space.

Shown in the table below is a list of the cities that I know to have mandated minimum space requirements between bikes. At the time of writing, I believe this information to be up to date and correct. However, I make no guarantees, so please do your own research to be sure.



Vertical Bike Parking:

Horizontal Bike Parking:

San Francisco






Los Angeles





24” x 72”

New York City



Aisle way clearance: Although APBP recommends aisle ways of 36 to 48" wide between racks, between racks and walls or columns and other obstructions, we have found that 36" tends to be more than sufficient. We have worked as low as 30", but this was a retrofit in New York City and space was a premium. The 36" aisle way spacing works well for most racks, except for double-decker or two tier racks with articulating trays for easier loading of bikes. If these types of racks are used, greater aisle way space will typically be required and will need to be confirmed with the manufacturer.

Vertical height: Most of the higher density bike parking products on the market today require a certain amount of vertical height. The required height will vary depending on the type of bike parking product/s you would like to use. For horizontal on-ground parking, the vertical clearance can be as low as 48" so this type of parking is quite flexible and can be used in areas where most other bike parking types can't. Vertical bike parking typically requires 84" and two tier or double-decker style racks typically require 103” at a minimum.

More often than not, vertical height is reduced by plumbing, HVAC or electrical conduit that may be suspended from the ceiling. Remember to consider all of the elements when choosing what type of bike parking you would like to use.

Accessibility: When laying out a room with bike racks, ensure you maintain easy access to entry/exit doors within the room. For example, provide breaks in long lengths or spans of bike racks to allow users a quicker and more convenient path to a door. Also, maintain any electrical and HVAC accessibility that may be required.

Bicycle infrastructure and especially bicycle parking is becoming increasingly important to building tenants and employees. With the number of bicycle commuters and general riders growing each year, offering bicycle parking is not only a good idea, it has become a necessity to address demand. Making the choice to offer thoughtful, well executed bike parking will insure your users park their bikes efficiently and easily.