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The etiquette of bike parking

by Richard Masoner

James of Bicycle Design sent me a link to this story about the etiquette of bike parking.

With more and more cyclists taking to the roads and designated bike racks in short supply, where they park has tremendous capacity to annoy.

So how can those on two wheels avoid winding up officialdom, pedestrians and even fellow cyclists when they lock up their trusty steeds?

This reminds me of a discussion we had in the San Francisco Bay Area. Several people talk about this blog post, in which TerraPass Vice President Erin Craig complains about how ugly bikes are when they’re parked in the office.

The bikes are, shall we say, prominent aspects of the room’s decor. Everywhere you look you see a bike hung with locks, train tags, helmets and sometimes clothing. It’s not unusual to have a half a dozen bikes strewn around the big room. Ick again. To me, it makes the place look like a either a parking lot or a dump.

What do you all think? Is it appropriate to bring bikes into the office? Or should we try to stash them somewhere out of sight?

 
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33 Responses to “The etiquette of bike parking”

  1. Dylan says:

    I park my bike in my office. It’s in the back corner, in a clear space, behind my desk and out of the way. I cannot imagine it is any more unsightly than an umbrella rack, coffee maker, or trash can. It looks like it belongs there. My bicycle often becomes a topic of conversation when clients are in my office.

  2. welshcyclist says:

    Sadly I have to admit my commuter bike is an ugly “extra” in the workplace, that I share with my colleagues. But I have no other option, which is unfair.

  3. NoTrail says:

    I’ll bring my bike right up the elevator and leave it in the empty cubicle next to mine. But since I’m the only bicycle commuter in my office (I know, I’m still trying to convince the others), it’s not really an issue yet.

    I’d love to have that problem around here though.

  4. danielo says:

    I encourage people to bring their bikes inside whenever outside parking/locking facilities are inadequate, as a way to demonstrate the inadequacy and reiterate the need for improvement. I think it should be done courteously, and when parked inside, should be done with respect to the space. But I think the more and more we do this, the more those who are prone to ignore bikes will begin to think about taking us seriously.

  5. sally says:

    I think bicycles in the office shows that the employees are concerned about the environment and about our national energy problem. If the management doesn’t want them there, they should provide alternatives that are equally secure.

  6. Juan says:

    I WISH we had the problem of too many ugly bikes in the work place! My bike stays right next to my desk…..where it belongs. We have a rack outside, but I can’t keep my eye on it. Plus, by keeping it inside I don’t need to have a lock.

  7. Cliff H says:

    I have been bike commuting about 24 years- I have parked my bike everywhere from in my office to outside in the elements at all the different locations I have lived and worked in. 8 states, 2 countries. Snow, thieves, rain, heat, pedestrians, cops, and, of course, cars, have been my bike parking challenge.

    I found a big plastic bag bike cover with snaps at the bottom when I had to park in the elements. I stored the cover at my office and would deploy it if I thought precipitation was imminent. It worked well. That year I was chaining my bike to a big strong bush outside of my building.

    I prefer parking in the office whenever possible– I am a psychologist and my job is health promotion, so ‘walking the talk’ is very important in my way of thinking. Lots of clients have looked at me with big eyes when the weather sucked saying “you rode your bike TODAY ?!?!?

    Blows their minds, which is the point. If everyone sees it as impossible no one will do it. If it is just seen as routine, normal, we will all do it.

    I do think there should be some discretion regarding parking your bike clothing- I sweat a lot and it stinks bad, so I try to find a locker, closet, or private bath to hang up the clothing I wore that morning out of range of any easily offended noses.

    To me the bicycle is the pinnacle of design perfection- show me ANYTHING in an office that is as perfectly designed as a bicycle and I will worship it. The paper clip comes close…

  8. UltraRob says:

    At my old job, we had bikes in a lot of cubes plus some on stands in the aisles. The head of R&D didn’t like it along with us walking in and out from the lockers in lycra. When he changed buildings he had a locker room and a bike storage room complete with bike racks put in by a back entrance so we wouldn’t be seen in lycra. We almost never had anybody from outside come in so I don’t what the issue was. At least he didn’t ban bikes and in fact thought it was cool that so many rode.

  9. My trike is parked outside in the sheltered rack provided by my office. It is also in direct view of the receptionist all day. I count myself lucky. At my old job in Beaverton, OR, I parked in my cubicle, but I had room and was using a smaller bike (a 2003 Fuji Cross). That job was also bike friendly and we had lockers and showers as well.

    At one point there was a push to get us a separate conference room dedicated to the various bikes, but it fell through. No one has ever complained about lycra clad cyclists or their bikes at my jobs.

  10. Wei says:

    I park my bike in my office room. I don’t think it’s unsightly – it’s my office deco and keeps me happy throughout the workday. I never thought someone would see it as an annoyance. I’d better ask my co-workers tomorrow.

    Back when I worked at a cubicle I parked my bike in the closet. It’s a hidden space that few people used. After starting to bike to work and walking across the office with my bike attire, I noticed that a few people started cycling as well, and put their bikes there.

    My experiences tell me that bike conspicuousness is something to be encouraged.

  11. SingleSpeed says:

    I generally think it’s inappropriate to bring bicycles into office spaces. But each situation is unique, and sometimes it’s your only option.

    I leave mine outside on the rack all day (luckily it’s in the covered parking garage so it stays out of the elements for the most part), but sometimes I forget my lock and have to bring it inside.

  12. lucca says:

    i have a bike room in my school because students and teachers ride to school which i think is awsom for highschool

  13. I keep my bike on the other side of my cubicle in a hallway. Luckily, there is a pole that is decorated as a palm tree. So my bike is not in the way because people need to walk around the palm tree.

    I know another guy that keeps his down in the “warehouse.” And yet another guy keeps his outside of his office in the hall.

    http://www.goingcarless.com

  14. Paul says:

    Ooops html commenting is disabled. 2nd try:

    Ick again:
    http://img389.imageshack.us/my.php?image=parkinglot2xh5.jpg

  15. Shiny Flu says:

    We have a nice little staff bike parking area with a box to keep our stuff in. When I ride the MTB in, often I’ll prop it up right in front for everyone to see.

    Oh yeah, I work in a bike shop :)

    I’ve definitely found issues with locking my bike to racks. A lot of people don’t know how simple it is to share a rack without placing their bike in a really annoying position. Either way, my commuter is simply single and I don’t really worry about ‘damage’ since I bought it for that exact job.

  16. MidtownFlyer says:

    A few random thoughts on this:

    1) Bikes in an office space are not “icky”. “Icky” is the sight of 5 foot tall, 350lb people wearing tight jeans and stretch pants.

    2) Lycra in the office is no problemo, provided the wearers are height/weight proportional. If not, see comment #1.

    3) Over the years of using a bicycle for transportation, I’ve locked my ride to everything from trees to statues to parking meters to abandoned car bumpers. I’ve had to dress for work in bathroom stalls, storage rooms, conference rooms, and boiler rooms
    that smelled like a zoo. It’s VERY encouraging to see so many businesses providing lockers and shower facilities. And allowing us to protect our rides by bringing them inside. Too many bicycles get stolen nowadays.

    4) My wife works in a bike shop, rides to work every day, and just brings hers inside. We plan on opening a shop next year. All employees will always be allowed to bring their bicycles inside. AND given a bonus for riding to work. After all, why would you
    want to buy a bicycle for commuting from a sales person who drives a car to work?

  17. Wayne says:

    I am fortunate enough to park mine right next to my desk. It is a conversation starter, and as a Bike/Ped Coordinator I have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. That said I keep a couple of clean rags to give my bike a quick clean up before I bring it into the office. Call me a bike snob, but I feel the problems arise when folks bring in old ratty, rusted machines and park them next to their desks with the 2000 dollar Multi-media machine on it. How ever if you have a cycle that’s clean & taken care of, must folks don’t seem to mind. I mean even when I have to drive my CAGE some place, I don’t park next to ratty cars. I wish I had a better place for my clothing; all I do now is pack them away in my “rack-bag” until its time to go home. I then have to change in the restroom; fortunately it’s a semi-private one requiring a key. Bikes rock…

  18. JiMCi says:

    At my workplace, there is plenty of parking for cars and SUVs but none for bikes. So I have to keep my bike in my office. During a meeting with management, I was asked to put it somewhere else. I replied that I would be more than happy to do so once a proper and secure bike parking area is made available to employees. The bike is still in my office…

  19. danielo says:

    @JiMCi — That’s awesome! (Not that they haven’t provided adequate parking yet, but that you stood up for cyclists.)

  20. Bikes are often a conversation starter. In my office in Beaverton, OR, numerous conversations were started by over bikes in cubicles and offices. I learned more about my co-workers by discussing bikes and their commute mode because of them. I can only see good things regarding bikes in offices. It is foolish to try to ban them in office spaces. When I bike in, my energy level is higher all day. I am healthier due to riding and lower risk for my companies health plan. A bike takes up much less space than a car. In the areas I live, there are corporate incentives to encourage commuting by bus/train/bike. The less car commuters there are, the better for their bottom line.

  21. BiggerDummy says:

    When I ride my well maintained and clean road bike I’ll bring it upstairs and tuck it in the corner of my office. This year I’ve been commuting mostly on my Big Dummy though and it won’t fit in the elevator :-)

    When I started here last year I didn’t see anyone else riding to work. Since then I have seen several others on the nice days and many have started to bring their bikes in, but a really dirty old clunker in a cubicle doesn’t work for anyone. Keep it clean and out of the way or people will object for many reasons.

  22. Anonymous says:

    It really bothers me when people bring their shoes in the office. There’s a shoe parking at the entrance. Use it!

  23. Khalid says:

    My employer has provided an extra cubicle to park my bike. This way it is out of the way and I still get to bring it inside.

  24. seb says:

    Hi
    i compiled pictures of bikes parking in Paris, France if you want to take a look at it.
    Titles are in french cause my blog is in french
    http://jepedale.wordpress.com/2008/10/02/poteaux-ou-totems/

  25. Justin says:

    At my last job I kept my bike in my office, and it was positioned such that anyone visiting, especially the occasional client, would have to be in the office to see the bike. Thus it was a non-issue.

    At my present job I’m lucky that I can park in the phone closet. There’s also space in there to hang my sweaty clothes. If this building had showers, I’d be set…

  26. Bill says:

    I’m a pastor at a small church with only three staff members. Both I and our youth minister ride our bikes to work. Most days they sit in the hallway outside our office doors. We get lots of positive comments from church members, delivery drivers, and people we have meetings with. The kids at church think it particularly “cool”. Maybe they will bike commute when they grow up.

  27. Maureen says:

    I agree with Cliff H and MidtownFlyer: they’re not icky, they’re beautiful machines. The first day I rode my bike to work, I purposely brought it inside because half my dept. wanted to see it. I parked it in my boss’s cube that day (he offered) and it caused quite the stir. Everyone had to come by and check it out, and it sparked some great conversation. I am fortunate, however, in that my company supplies covered, locking bike lockers, as well as shower facilities in 3 buildings so I keep all my bike clothes and stuff locked in a locker. I was told that there used to be so many of the guys here (I may be the only girl that rides in) were parking their bikes in empty cubes it was getting out of hand, and that’s when the company was forced to buy the bike lockers.

  28. I work in a school, and keeping my bike in my classroom would not be a good idea! I park in the rack outside in dry weather, and in the custodian’s storage room in wet weather (or if I’ve forgotten my lock). Students and staff have been very interested in my bike commuting habit this year.

  29. Cool says:

    I am Glad to see such oddities as School teachers and even Pastors riding bikes to work. I have been working with the safe routs to school program and i find it disheartening when the teachers that live in the same neighborhood as the students refuse to ride, matter of fact i found that down right annoying.At the last meeting I I asked the teachers how many live in the local neighborhood, many raised their hands, then i asked how many of them bicycle to work, they looked at me like i had two heads. Then i heard the normal lame excuses. My Pastor competes in triathlons but i haven’t seen him ride his bike to the church office yet! Maybe he doesnt want to seem to elitist *L* i dont know, but i am always bugging him about that.

  30. D Peterson says:

    I have tried several solutions here in Manhattan. Any bike left outside, no matter how well locked, will be vandalized one day. I’ve finally settled on a Brompton that fits right under my desk.

  31. BeckyD says:

    I am lucky to work in a small warehouse where I am not the only bike commuter. I just park it in a corner near the front door, and actually get positive comments from others about it. It gets many thinking about riding their neglected bikes at home!

  32. Andrew says:

    Unless the office you work at invests in a “bike parking” room, bringing bikes into the workplace is the only feasible solution for those who commute by bicycle. Unfortunately, even a properly locked bike can have many necessary components removed (bike seat, front wheel, lights, etc.), if not the whole bike.

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