Types of cycle parking: explained

Cycle parking is an essential component of cycle infrastructure within residential areas, public spaces and places of work. As such, the importance of well-designed, high quality, convenient cycle parking can often influence an individual’s decision to cycle in the first place.

Generally, cycle parking should be close to the cyclist’s destination and should consider the following:

Facility owners also need to consider:

  • Maintenance (including the removal of abandoned bikes and perform regular checks for damage)
  • The quality of the solutions that are chosen from the suppliers, taking special note of accreditations (Secured by Design, for example)
  • Industry guidelines and the setup of the site (ceiling heights and ground surfaces, as examples)

Industry leaders in cycle parking solutions will be able to offer far more than products. They will have the expertise to correctly manage the project to its specific needs.

Cycle parking can be split into short-term for popping into a shop or café and long-term for residences, workplaces, schools, and public transport interchanges such as train stations.

Within these, there are several types of cycle parking that councils, businesses and employers can choose to install. Here, we give an overview of each of them, as well as their benefits and drawbacks.

Sheffield stand

The ‘Sheffield’ stand is one of the most common types of cycle parking and is a tubular metal stand anchored to the ground at two points in an inverted U-shape.

Sheffield stand cycle parking

‘Sheffield’ stands can be used as standalone cycle stands along streets, in small groups of around five or six stands and in rows of large quantities outside train stations or shopping centres, for example.

This type of cycle parking can also be improved with shelters to keep bikes dry during poor weather and to provide an extra level of security by shielding bicycles from view and giving a vantage point for CCTV cameras.

Pros: Cost-effective, stable, durable, two-point locking of both wheels and frame. Also easily understood by users and therefore easy to use.
Cons: They might not be the most space efficient choice, especially indoors.

Not all Sheffield stands are the same from supplier to supplier. They differ in quality and how they are installed (some are surface mounted with a base plate; others are sub-fixed).

Another Sheffield stand option is a ‘toast rack’, which is essentially a joined-up row of Sheffield stands:

Toast Rack and Bike Shelter

Non-traditional stands come in all manner of shapes and sizes.

Music bike rack, creative

Two-tier rack

Dutch designed two-tier racks are popular as they can offer double the capacity in the same footprint. Bikes can be stacked and locked in two levels, usually in large numbers (indoors or outdoors).

Two Tier Bike Racks

The racks are optimised for standard two-wheeled bikes and usually require a ceiling height of at least 2.6 metres. This type of cycle parking can be installed within larger cycling hubs at public transport interchanges, for example.

Pros: Additional bicycle parking density and space-efficient.
Cons: May not fit in older buildings or basement parking areas. Cyclists need to lift their bike onto the upper tier (but most installed in recent years are gas-assisted for easier lifting). They’re not suitable for ‘non-standard’ bicycles. Therefore, they should not be the only type of cycle parking on offer to users, especially when considering users with disabilities.

Two-tier racks differ from supplier to supplier and not all offer adequate locking points for two bike locks.

Wall racks (specifically ‘Butterfly’)

Metal ‘butterfly’ wall-mounted racks are largely unpopular with cyclists for various reasons. The racks are usually bolted into the walls of buildings and are used to secure the front or rear wheel of a bicycle.

Butterfly Bike Racks

Fixed butterfly wall mounted bike stands are often used as a short-term cycle parking solution for people to make use of when they are out and about, and those not likely to leave their bikes locked up for extended periods of time.

Pros: Space-saving and cost-effective.
Cons: Can bend wheels out of shape, whole bike isn’t supported, bike frame is not secured – theft is very easy.

These ‘butterfly’ wall-mounted racks and similar freestanding ‘wheel racks’ (sometimes bolted to the floor) should be avoided by facility owners. In fact, many leading suppliers of cycle parking solutions have stopped selling them in recent years.

Other wall-mounted options are available to hang the bike by the front wheel, which can be a cost-effective solution and allow for better bike locking than ‘butterfly racks’ (or fixed hoops/bars). They are rarely used as the only solution and some guidance advises against the use, or to limit, especially as they require users to lift the bike.

Hanging Bike Rack

Cycle hubs

A cycle hub refers to any location where cycle parking is provided together in large numbers, usually within a secure covered structure. Sometimes equipped with facilities such as changing rooms, lockers, bicycle repair stations and showers.

Cycle Hub with Two-Tier Cycle Racks

While some cycle hubs are general access, others may be restricted to key or pass holders. Cycle hubs tend to be located within public transport interchanges such as train or bus stations.

Pros: Large capacity, restricted access helps prevent thefts, convenient for commuters, cyclists can make use of additional facilities.
Cons: Some hubs may charge fees and deter use, requires regular maintenance, seasonal cycle numbers may affect use and availability.

Bike lockers

Another type of cycle parking is individual bike lockers, which are bolted to the ground and usually provide a single user with access. Bicycles stored inside the locker cannot be seen by passers-by, which can help to prevent attempted theft. Lockers can be horizontal, vertical and even specifically made for folding bikes.

Bike locker parking

Bike lockers can commonly be found within cycle hubs or at workplaces.

Pros: Can be installed quickly, usually of good security (locking) and the bicycle cannot be seen by passers-by and is kept dry during bad weather.
Cons: Management can be difficult; individuals may treat public lockers as their own.

Verging on what a bike locker is are ‘bike hangars’ (an on-street bike parking solution). A bike hangar is usually a metal pod that sits in the place of a car parking space and can host a number of bikes.

Semi-vertical racks

Semi-vertical cycle racks are a typical storage solution when there isn’t a lot of space available. Most commonly found inside buildings, these racks are suitable for standard two-wheeled bikes.

Semi-Vertical Bike Racks in Shelter

As its name suggests, a semi-vertical bike rack stores bicycles on a slant by placing the tyres into a fixed width channel.

Pros: Space-saving, suitable for indoor use (and some types outdoor) with no permanent fixings.
Cons: Unsuitable for cargo bikes, usually unsuitable for bikes with wider-than-average tyres. The rider must lift the bike onto the rack.

Planning guidance can sometimes advise two-tier over semi-vertical bike racks, especially on their own.

The type and quality of cycle parking available at various destinations can have a significant influence on whether a person decides to cycle there, but there are other important contributing factors, too.

First and foremost, cycle parking facilities must be secure (there are many factors involved here) and well-maintained in order to protect against theft and deter thieves.

The amount of cycle parking available is also an important factor. Facilities should cater not only for existing demand but also for potential increases in cycling numbers. As always, the phrase ‘build it and they will come’ rings true, and once new facilities are built, they often soon fill up.

Finally, cycling must be inclusive and that goes for cycle parking as well. Parking must accommodate not only standard two-wheeled bikes, but also the growing numbers of cargo bikes being used by businesses and individuals alike, as well as other non-standard bikes. The parking should be correctly laid out, with the optimal selection of products used.

Cycle parking solutions