Kansas City is known for many things – BBQ, fountains, jazz, our sports teams, our streetcar, and more – but we’re less known for bicycle riding within the city. Some of this is due to our culture, some of it is due to our topography, but much of it is due to our current lack of bicycling infrastructure. While trails and bike lanes often get the most publicity, a crucial piece of infrastructure is often overlooked: bicycle parking.
KCMO has begun to make great strides in building out a bike lane network but if we are to build a wonderful network of protected bike lanes without building up our inventory of bicycle parking, we risk people not using the bicycle network because they do not have safe, secure places to park. According to researchers, cyclists and pedestrians spend more than other road users– these patrons are worth courting with quality bike parking! Absent sufficient bike parking, we may also wind up with with bicycles attached to street trees and other items that may potentially cause damage to the bikes or to public and private property.
At BikeWalkKC, we operate our bike parking consulting program to help municipalities, institutions, developers and other businesses/organizations provide their patrons and residents with exceptional bike parking. We offer all of these services for free including design styles, procurement, layout, and navigating city ordinances and permits.
While you’ve likely seen bike racks before, it is very likely you pass by bike racks throughout your day without ever even noticing them. So let’s take a deeper look at bike parking.
The city of KCMO defines two different types of bike parking: short term and long term parking. The difference between the two is not so much the style of rack but how and where they are installed. Short term is typically found outdoors near an entrance or an area of high activity.
These are typically for guests or visitors and intended to be used for short periods of time.
Long term racks may be the same as a building’s short term racks but they are usually placed indoors or hidden from the public’s eye. Typically these are installed in a secure, covered location and intended to be used for long periods of time. For example, many apartment buildings will have offer their residents long term bike parking in the basement or the bottom of the automobile parking garage. Sometimes landlords will offer their long term bike parking in separate bike rooms such as the one we helped design at Plaza 209! This bike room offers lockers, ample long term bike parking and a repair station. This is an example of ideal long term bike parking.
Bike racks come in all shapes and sizes. The most common two styles are hitch and hoop racks. Many of these can be seen around town including the custom branded “KC” racks that we installed last year. In fact, 100 of these have been installed by the City of KCMO so far! Custom racks can done with a design inside of a standard rack or can created as a custom shape. Other common rack styles include: “downtown” racks, “swerve” racks, and “round” racks. Another popular style of bike rack is called a “Bike” bike rack, which, unsurprisingly, is in the shape of a bike! These are just a few examples of popular bike racks, to learn about the styles offered, give us a shout anytime.
Whatever style you choose, it’s important to choose a type that allows for two points of contact. This means the bike is able to rest against the rack in two different places. Racks that only allow for one point of contact often lead to bikes falling over and damaging itself or other bikes. While we all too often see these types of racks throughout town, all of the above mentioned racks allow for this two points of contact.
Deciding where to place your bike parking is crucial to ensuring maximum usage. One thing we often see people get wrong is not placing racks in highly visible or easily accessible areas. Sometimes clients want to place their racks in hidden or hard to reach locations because they feel they’re safest there. This can actually have the opposite effect and can encourage theft or vandalism because the bikes are hidden from the public eye. It also deters use of the racks because potential users are not able to easily locate the racks.
Another problem we often see in improper placement is either too close to a building or too far from the entrance of the building. We recommend bike racks be placed in eyesight and within 50 feet of the building entrance that the racks are intended to serve. This allows for convenient and easy to find use. We also recommend that bike racks are placed at a minimum of three feet away from any obstructions including the building, the curb, street amenities, and anything else. This ensures that the bike racks are able to be used properly without negatively affecting the use of the racks or any of the other amenities in the right of way or on private property.
If you are installing a bike rack on private property, then you can do so without permission from any city agency and are to free to place the rack anywhere on your private property (though we do recommend following our guidelines mentioned above). However, if you are installing a bike rack on the sidewalk, also known as the “public right of away”, you will need to obtain a KCMO bike rack permit from City Hall and follow some placement requirements. The permit, which can be a bit tricky to obtain, requires a detailed site plan, notarized signatures, insurance requirements, and notifying your neighbors. The good news is we are here to help you obtain this permit free of charge! We have helped several businesses obtain this permit so that they may provide their patrons and the public with a safe, secure location to park their bikes. If you are needing to obtain this permit or have any questions in regards to this permit, please give us a shout. We are more than happy to answer any questions for you and obtain this permit!
In KCMO, real estate developers are required to provide long and short term bike parking anytime they build a new building or renovate an existing building into a new use. The short term requirement states that developers must provide bike parking spaces equal to or greater than 10% of the amount of automobile parking spots that are provided. The long term bike parking requirement differs upon the type of use of the building and is often based on square footage or the number of units within the building. For example, a new apartment building is required to provide 1 parking spot for every 3 units and 1 for every 6 after the first 50 parking spaces. If you’re developer looking to navigate this ordinance successfully, contact us – we’d love to help!
Once you’ve got your racks determined, you’ve got your permit, and you’ve met your ordinance requirements, you’re ready for install! There are typically two different ways to install a bike rack for the long haul. Those two ways of install are through a surface mount or in-ground install.
Surface mount is the easiest way to go but requires an unobstructed space of concrete. If you’ve got concrete to install onto, this is definitely the way to go. This can easily be done by yourself, if you have a hammer or concrete drill available to use.
In-ground mount is necessary when installing bike racks in grass, on asphalt, pavers, or any other types of ground other than concrete. In-ground mount often requires the use of a coring drill to allow the bike rack base to sit within the ground for which then concrete is poured into the holes to support and secure the bike rack. In-ground mount is certainly much more of a challenge than a surface mount install but is often necessary when concrete is not present for an install.
Either method can be done DIY but for those would not like to deal with the hassle and ensure that it’s done right the first time, BikeWalkKC can help select a licensed installer for your project needs.
While we could probably talk all day about bike parking, this is a good overview of the components to consider when deciding on bike parking. We are here to provide our expertise on all bike parking matters and we’d be thrilled to help you. The best part….all of our bike parking consulting services are completely free!
Need a bike rack? Find more information about our services on our Bike Parking webpage!