Design rules for modern bike rooms in North America


Synopsis - The ideal bike room…

  • …fulfills a cyclist’s minimum expectation, if… it Is easily accessible, safe, clean, well lit, has solid structures for locking
  • …fulfills a property owner’s minimum expectation, if… given the overall goal of cost efficiency, parking in the wild stops, space is well organized, used with maximum density
  • …goes beyond the minimum expectations by offering… power outlets to eBike users, allowing to store a (shared) cargoBike, electronic bike locking, video surveillance, access control 

Should North America learn lessons from Europe?

We think yes, because it’s the easiest thing to do! 

Most of Europe started focussing more on bikes for urban transportation years before North America did. It has not been a smooth ride as change is hard. Experts in the industry point to a time lag of 5-10 years with which North America is following. 

So, learning from Europe now is an efficient way to future-proof investments. 

Know your target audience - let’s start with (boring) bicycles for everyday use

These are your real targets as they are in use almost every day - rain or shine.
Such bikes actually have fenders, racks and lights and weigh more than an average person can lift up easily. So, storing bikes off the ground has to be lift assisted and allow for fenders not to be destroyed. The average price for a bike sold now in central Europe is above $1,000. (following link shows data from 2016).


eBikes - it’s not a gimmick. In 2020 more than 17% of bikes sold in Europe were eBikes.

Here is an article arguing that by 2025 the ratio of eBikes sold will be 50%.

cargoBikes - also not a gimmick but important to consider
If you’re not sure what a cargoBike is, here is a link which gives you a very good idea of why they play an increasingly important role in transportation: 

Studies show that people in cities are more willing to give up a car if they have easy access to cargoBikes, such as rentals by the hour.

Know your target audience - the cyclist

Make no mistake, this is a rapidly growing group.

Most cyclists really care about their bikes, want to park as close as possible to wherever they are going and want to find their bikes exactly as and where they left them.

Locking bikes to a fixed structure is important to almost everyone. 

Access control to and video recording in bike rooms is important to some.

Having a charging point for eBikes is preferred for regulars with eBikes, such as in office or residential bike rooms. 

A few prefer to have to have their own box for bike storage.

Use of apps is widely accepted.

Bike room layout and design considerations

Traffic flow in big bike rooms: Ideally you’ll plan one-way traffic for the main aisles when you have several access points.

Aisle width for one way-traffic or for access to bike racks should be at least 4 ft /1.2 m.

Different zones in big bike rooms: Ideally you can organize your bike room so that you have an area for cargoBikes with power outlets, another area for eBikes with power outlets and then the rest for general bike parking.

Premium parking zone: This is the dream of some cyclists to have access restricted bike parking where they can park their expensive gear for a fee (e.g. app supported). 

Space efficiency: Including all aisles, the most efficient bike racks can achieve a space efficiency of less than 10 sqft / bike (or less than 1 sqm / bike). It all depends on the general room dimensions, obstacles like columns, placement of access, room height etc. The most space efficient bike racks store bikes vertically or on 2 levels.

Cleanability: This is often forgotten, but dirt and trash are like a magnet for more. Ideally a bike room can be easily cleaned even when bicycles are stored. 

Which bike rack type is the best?

It actually all depends on the location specs if horizontal or vertical storage is better suited. 

Having said that, we at My Bike Valet focus on vertical, lift assisted bike storage. We designed our OnStreet bike rack for easy-to-use, scratch free, high density bike storage. It is future proof as we integrate eBike charging and electronic locking by design, not as an afterthought. We definitely believe that we have a superior bike rack which will be hard to beat in urban settings.

Check out this full feature video using a 62 lbs eBike:

Interesting facts and stats about and around cycling:

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