- Overview of Bike Rooms
- Essentials of an Effective Bike Room Design
- Bike Storage Laws
- Bike Room Parking & Logistics
- Security Tips for Keeping Bicycles Safe
- Amenities to Make Your Bike Room Amazing
- Key Takeaways for Bike Rooms
Overview of Bike Rooms
The Empire State Building, University of Washington, and luxury condos in Manhattan all have one thing in common: bike rooms.
The New York Times reported on the rise of bike rooms to fill a need for safe street parking for tenants living in high rise condos and apartments. According to the article, landlords are happy to add and maintain bike rooms to keep up with market trends that favor green construction and retrofit solutions. Instead of just a space for bicycle storage, bike rooms are becoming a selling point for landlords and those involved in real estate.
The same trend is noticeable with luxury apartment rentals. The new YOO on the Park in Atlanta added indoor bike parking racks, complete with security cameras and lockers for storing equipment. Brooklyn’s City Tower offers a stunning bike room on the 19th overlooking Brooklyn and Manhattan, accessible by elevator.
Cycling for both commuting and fun is on the rise, especially in urban environments where vehicle parking is limited. Many avid cyclists own expensive bikes that are worth thousands of dollars. Bicycle theft is a huge issue nationwide, with the FBI estimating 250,000 bicycles stolen annually (although the number could be as high as a million due to the number of unreported thefts). For many tenants, secure bicycle parking is no longer considered optional to protect their investment in bicycle transportation.
Property owners and businesses can have a competitive advantage with bike rooms. Future tenants will find their new home based on whether or not a bike room is available. Potential employees will weigh the pros and cons of working for you based on the cycling amenities at your business.
Cyclists know that bike rooms and lockers are by far the most secure form of bicycle security available. It provides them with the peace of mind that their main mode of transportation will not be vandalized or stolen.
This sense of security is valuable enough that city planners, landlords, and business owners can actually generate revenue from bike rooms by charging a small monthly fee for their access (usually in the range of $10-$100 per month). Bike rooms can quickly pay for themselves through this method, while keeping costs down for other tenants who will not use it.
Essentials of an Effective Bike Room Design
When you begin planning your bike room, there are a few key points to keep in mind. Without proper planning, your bike storage is more likely to collect dust than be used by your guests.
- Planning for Bikes First: Older facilities that add bike rooms have to retroactively make space for them. If possible, it’s much easier to plan bicycle parking from the start. Don’t assume it will be simple to add a bike room later on—it’s usually more expensive and difficult than planning for it from the beginning.
- Recommended sizes: You may initially assume that one bicycle per apartment will be enough, but it most likely won’t. Many families and couples who live in condos have one bicycle per person, which means your facility will have an overflowing bike room and a waiting list. Besides adding additional parking spaces for extra bikes, you want to space out the bicycle parking appropriately. At minimum, you want to make sure guests can comfortably bring in their bicycles without any tight corners, pillars, or spaces that are difficult to maneuver.
- First floor is best: First floor access is ideal for bicycle storage. Not only is it easier for the cyclist, it’s also better for the building, since your walls and floors are less likely to get scuffed and bruised from moving the bike up and down the stairs. If the first floor is impossible, offer an elevator for storing bicycles below or above the first floor. The most important key for bicycle storage is clearly communicating with your tenants and offering safe, secure options for storing their bicycles.
- Don’t Forget Signage: Especially for visitors or new tenants, visible signage is crucial to bike room usage. The Washington D.C. District Department of Transportation even requires signs with a white background and black letters to be posted in a prominent place at each entrance in the building.
- Accessibility: Don’t install your bicycle room far from the entrance to your building. Washington, D.C. also requires that long-term parking be within 100 feet walking distance from any functional entrance.
“If there isn’t an accessible, common area for storage, which is secured, tenants would be bringing their bicycles to their office space, which landlords don’t love,” said architect Rich Hiler with Essential Design and Build in New York City. “If bikes are only allowed on in-freight elevators, most times freight service is closed after 5 pm, which doesn’t suit the commuters who work later into the evening.”
Consider these factors when designing your bike room to create a comfortable and accessible bicycle parking area for your guests.
Bike Storage Laws
In many cities, bicycle storage laws are growing to become more accommodating to the increased cycling trend. Since bike rooms are becoming mandatory in some areas, owners of multifamily apartment homes use the opportunity to upgrade their storage to make it both compliant with the new laws, while also a selling feature for new guests.
A 2009 zoning amendment in New York City requires one bike space for every two units in structures with 10 apartments or more. Under the law, each bike needs 15 square feet of space, unless owners can submit a more resourceful plan.
Another law from the same year in New York City was called The Bicycle Access of Office Buildings Law. It stated that commercial office buildings with a freight elevator have to allow bicycle parking indoors if an employee requests it. While there are exceptions to the rule, most employers have to comply and find a way to allow indoor storage once an employee requests it.
For older buildings, these laws mean it’s time to transform ground-level buildings to make them bike room-friendly, while newer buildings take bike parking into consideration from the start.
Minimum Bike Room Spaces Specified
Another code in New York City requires parking garages or lots that accommodate more than 100 vehicles to also provide secure bicycle parking. Parking garages in New York must accommodate one bicycle for every 10 vehicles.
While these laws apply to New York City, there are similar laws throughout the country mandating a specific number of bicycle parking spaces. Washington, D.C. even requires bicycle parking to equal 5% of automobile parking spots. Of course these city codes only outline the minimum number of spots for bicycles. Many facilities that cater to cyclist demographics or close to accessible bike lanes may need to add additional spots to keep up with demand. Keep in mind that your facility can still charge monthly rental fees to help offset the cost of bicycle room storage.
Bike parking isn’t just a growing trend; it’s becoming a mandate. Make sure you are keeping up with your local laws to avoid penalties and fines.
Bike Room Parking & Logistics
When considering bicycle parking racks for your bike room, it’s essential to focus on high-density racks that have a small footprint. In other words, you want racks that can store as many bicycles as possible in an efficient, space-saving way.
Here are some space-saving bike parking rack products:
By storing bicycles in a vertical position, you can maximize space much more efficiently than with horizontal-style bike racks. The key points of effective freestanding vertical bike racks are: a) Density – make sure the spacing is maximized by offsetting the bicycles at different levels. b) Organization - since most bicycles now are pricey, make sure there is no handlebar or frame conflict between bicycles with your vertical bike storage. c) Security - keep the bikes secure with a locking arm that provides three points of contact – the arm, the frame and the front wheel. Hanging bike racks are very space efficient.
These are a wall mount option for storing bicycles in a space-saving manner. With the bikes stored vertically and secure to a locking bar, guests can comfortably walk by. Wall mount bike racks are secure because they are mounted to any wall in spaces like a hallway, garage, or office space. To make sure hanging bike racks are optimized, be sure the hooks are staggered to be able to park the bikes closer together.
These are the simple and least expensive option. Easy to install and move, basic floor bike racks are essentially maintenance-free. However, in a bike room, they do take up more space than freestanding bike racks or wall mount bike racks. Be sure to find a high-density bike storage rack to maximize the number of bicycles in a particular space.
Bike lockers can make a big difference in the security of your facility, especially in larger rooms that accommodate many cyclists and are less secure. Also, avid bicyclists with premium bicycles are good prospects for the rental of bike lockers.
There are plenty of options for both wall and floor storage for your bike racks. Each rack has its own pros, cons, and price points, but the biggest consideration to keep in mind is your space and what will work best for your needs. Remember that installing a mix of horizontal and vertical parking can be an efficient way to accommodate different types of bicycles while maximizing the storage capacity.
Make sure there is enough spacing between each rack to fit several bikes comfortably. Bicycles come in a variety of sizes, so it’s best to overestimate rather than force the bicycles into crammed spots. Recommended sizing is as follows:
- Aisles: Minimum recommended aisle width is 4.5 feet. Washington D.C. recommends at least 5’ wide aisles between parking spaces and the perimeter of the area.
- Spaces: Make sure your bicycle parking spaces are at least 2’ wide and 6’ long
- Ceilings: Provide at least 8-foot tall ceilings. This allows guests to comfortably hang their bicycles without smashing into the ceilings or not having enough clearance.
If you still aren’t sure where to begin, look at the manuals that come with your bike rack for specific spacing information. You can also speak with an architect or bike room planner to receive one-on-one help for planning and spacing out your bicycle parking.
Security Tips for Keeping Bicycles Safe
If your bike room isn’t clean, secure, and maintained, it will quickly become an empty, wasted space. Avid cyclists spend thousands on their bicycles of choice and are careful with them because it is their main mode of transportation. That’s why security is essential for the success of any bike room.
Lock up those bikes!
First, you want to make sure your bicycle racks are secure. The most secure way to lock a bicycle to a rack is with a U-Lock. These provide three points of contact: the bike frame, front wheel of the bike, and bike rack itself. If you install parking racks that only allow cyclists to lock the front wheel to the bike rack, thieves can simply remove the wheel, steal the bicycle frame, and take off.
Floor bike racks that are designed for U-locks include the U-shaped bike racks and wave racks. If you are installing a vertical bike rack, look for ones that have an additional U-shaped security pole for locking the bicycle to the rack. Because U-lock compatibility is the most desired security feature by cyclists, bike racks that work with U-locks usually include this information in the product description.
Keep everything secure
Installing security cameras is an excellent way to deter theft and make guests feel more protected. Make sure you install security cameras that are recording 24/7—you will want to be able to review footage after an incident occurs. You may also want to consider an advanced keypad technology to help with securing entry and exit. Handing out traditional keys can be less secure because keys get lost, copied, or stolen. With a digital keycard or unique passcode for each guest, it’s much easier to track who is coming and going, void old keys, and update the lock as necessary.
There are other practical measures you can take to secure your bike room. If possible, make sure your bike room is in clear view of the staff and others who can make sure no mischief is going on. You will also want your bicycle room and its entrance to be well-lit to ensure safety.
If your facility is large, consider providing several smaller bicycle rooms instead of one big room. This gives guests access to fewer bicycles. If only one large open room is available, individual bicycle lockers are a good option for additional security. This can also be an upgraded option for guests who want their bikes to be ultra secure.
Amenities to Make Your Bike Room Amazing
To attract more tenants and customers, make your guests feel extra comfortable with additional amenities instead of just providing a simple place to store bicycles. With more city laws requiring bike rooms, extra amenities can help you stand out. These amenities will convince potential customers to move in, to work at your facility, or to visit your shopping area.
- Personal lockers for clothing or belongings. Think about the people who will use your bike room: they probably will bring a change of clothes, towel, soap for the shower, toiletries, and other bicycle supplies. Personal lockers for storing these kinds of items is very convenient for visitors.
- Bike repair stations like the ones incorporated by David Baker Architects are great for urban living spaces where residents have limited room to work on their bicycles without a traditional garage. Providing a work desk and tool kit for repairing chains or flat tires will be a selling feature for your guests who want to repair and maintain their bicycle on their own, avoiding the high charges of bringing it into their local bike shop. Some stations come equipped with everything a bicyclist may need - tools tethered by a wire, wheel pump and air pressure gauge and a wheel chock to hold the bike upright.
- Bike compression air pumps are almost essential. Cyclists know how easy it is to get a flat tire. If needed, some cyclists also add a small boost of air before their ride home.
- Bike washing stations - like cars, bikes get dirty too. Especially after a day of riding on dirty or salty roads. Providing a simple wash station will be a big hit with bike owners.
- Bike room signage - it's always smart to include some sort of sign with an explanation on how to use bike room and the rules that apply.
- Bike trailer storage is great for families or those who use bike trailers to transport supplies or groceries. Accommodate this need by providing longer parking spaces for those with bike trailers, or establishing a designated area for trailer storage.
- Vending machines can hold more than just potato chips. Offer supplies like tire tubes to earn a bit of automated revenue while providing a convenience for your tenants.
- Showers and changing rooms can help you earn you LEED points, making your brand viewed as environmentally progressive. Besides environmental incentives, some cities require showers as part of their city code. Note that nearby showers that are part of a gym or fitness facility may qualify for city code requirements. Showers are essential for making sure your employees or tenants are comfortable. Those with a long commute will want to shower off before beginning a long day at work. Without showers, your bike rooms will be used much less. According to the City of Toronto, one shower per bicycle space is ideal, but at least one per four bicycle spaces. The city also recommends providing two separate shower spaces for each gender per 30 bicycle parking spaces.
- Helmet storage encourages your guests to wear a helmet because it gives a secure place for it to be locked. Options for storing helmets include lockers and simple hooks, but make sure the helmets will be secure wherever they are placed.
- Bike valet services have employees park and secure bicycles in bike rooms instead of guests. This is a great solution for a hard-to-access bike room, but remember that training is crucial. If valet workers mishandle bicycles or do not secure them properly, it can mean big trouble for your business.
- Bike rental offers a fun and easy-to-use luxury for those who only bike occasionally. Bicycles can range from basic to high-end. At the luxury 50 West in Lower Manhattan, residents can rent one of four Porsche bikes (which cost $3,700 each).
- Hose and drain for washing down muddy bikes. Your guests and maintenance staff will all thank you later.
Overwhelmed yet? It’s likely that your facility can’t accommodate all of these amenities, but that’s perfectly fine. Most of these are not required, but just a simple bonus for making your bike rooms even better. Simply choose a few that you think will resonate most with the demographics that live in or visit your facility. Make a list of potential upgrades and install them at a time that works for you and your budget.
Key Takeaways for Bike Rooms
Clearly, adding a bike room does not have to be overly complicated. If you (or the property owner that you work for) still needs some convincing on the why of bike rooms, here are the main takeaways of how bike room storage can make a big difference for your facility.
- Follows a growing trend. Biking as a form of recreation and transportation is on the rise. According to the League of American Bicyclists, bike commuting is up 62% across the country. Accommodate your guests, tenants, and future customers by providing a bike room.
- Abides by local laws. Soon, a bike room may be required in your local city or state. Follow local regulations by offering a bicycle parking room.
- Makes you look eco-friendly. Offering bike rooms with showers may qualify you for LEED points, which makes your facility look environmentally aware.
- It’s a selling feature. In urban areas, people are deciding where to live and work based on bike room availability. Adding attractive, high-density vertical bike racks and extra amenities like showers and repair stations can make all the difference in convincing new visitors to move in.
Here is a handy infographic on How to Build a Successful Bike Room
City of New York. “Bicyclists guide.” Accessed Nov. 7, 2016. http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/bicyclists/bicyclists.shtml
City of Toronto. “Guidelines for the Design and Management of Bicycle Parking Facilities.” May 2008. http://atfiles.org/files/pdf/Torontobikeparkguide.pdf
Essential Design + Build. Interview with Rich Hiler. Nov. 2016.
Mansion Global. “For New Luxury Rental Buildings, Bike Rooms are a Must,” by Lambeth Hochwald. Sep. 15, 2016.
“Riding High: Bicycle-centric Properties Win Residents,” by Laura McNulty. Feb. 2, 2015
The New York Times. “A Room of Their Own for 2-Wheeled Commuters,” by Tom Acitelli. Nov. 15, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/16/realestate/commercial/for-those-who-pedal-to-work-a-room-to-store-their-bikes.html?_r=0
The New York Times. “Buildings Get Bike Friendly,” by Jane Margolies. May 6, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/08/realestate/catering-to-new-yorkers-with-bike-rooms.html
The Park Catalog. “Bike Lockers Fill the Need for Extra Security and Protection as the Ultimate in Commercial Bike Racks,” by Alysa Kleinman. Jun 23, 2016. https://www.theparkcatalog.com/blog/bike-lockers-in-demand/
Washington, D.C. District Department of Transportation. “Bicycle Parking Regulations.” Accessed November 7, 2016. http://ddot.dc.gov/page/bicycle-parking-regulations
About The Park and Facilities Catalog
The Park and Facilities Catalog is headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla. The company is a national manufacturer and provider of commercial bike racks. Our selection includes vertical bike racks, wall mount bike racks, high-density bike docks, custom bike racks, wave bike racks, U-shaped bike racks, grid bike racks, architectural bicycle parking racks, double-decker bike racks, low-profile bike racks, bike lockers and bike storage. Our products are available in a large array of colors and protective coatings. Also with our ParkExpress program, we have bicycle racks in stock that can ship in just 3 days.
Since 2001, we have supplied top quality bike racks to parks, schools, universities, restaurants, stores, malls, shopping centers, multi-family communities across the United States. The company is also a distributor of additional site furnishings such as park benches, picnic tables, trash receptacles, aluminum bleachers and hundreds of other items.
CALL US TODAY AT 1-800-695-3503 for a free catalog of commercial bike racks or visit our website: https://www.theparkcatalog.com/bike-racks