By Sarah Dalley
BICYCLE VICTORIA IN AUSTRALIA is a self-funded not-for-profit community organization owned collectively by all 40,000 members. We live and breathe our vision, tagline, and passion: More People Cycling More Often.
As well as organizing rides and events, we are actively engaged with local and state government to promote the interests of cyclists.
A common concern for cyclists and would-be cyclists is one shared by motorists—access to safe and convenient parking. This was largely neglected until 2006 when the Victorian state government enacted legislation that requires most new commercial, retail, and multistory residential buildings to provide bicycle parking—as well as showers and change rooms—in an attempt to get people cycling more often and to put cycle transport on an equal footing with cars.
However, providing good quality bicycle parking that is going to be used and useful is not quite as easy as leaving an old-fashioned “fence” or “grid” rack out by the back fence of the shopping plaza or school yard and expecting cyclists to find and use it. Indeed, many agencies are now adopting quite specific bicycle parking design, location, and installation requirements.
Without appropriate advice, it’s all too easy for organizations to provide inadequate parking. Failure to consider overlapping handlebars, for example, may lead to parking slots being too close together, reducing the number of bikes that can be accommodated.
Bicycle Victoria created a division called The Bicycle Parking Experts™. Over the last ten years we have helped facility owners, developers, architects, and planners implement parking solutions that are space efficient, user friendly, and that riders want to use.
Organizations can download plentiful design information such as the “Bicycle Parking Handbook” from our website (www.bv.com.au), get advice, engage our consultancy services, and purchase racks.
The key to the success of the Bicycle Parking Experts is that they practice what they preach. They use the products that they sell, and share the frustration when things don’t work as they should.
So what makes for a good bike parking solution? The Bicycle Parking Experts have identified six elements.
1. LOCATION—Choose a popular location. The very freedom that cyclists enjoy when riding means that they expect to park where they want to—not necessarily where you think they should.
2. QUANTITY—Provide enough parking. It is essential that enough racks are installed to satisfy existing riders and to cater for a growth in rider numbers. This is also a key component in encouraging new riders.
3. FUNCTIONALITY—Design a layout that works. Bikes can be awkward enough at times and the last thing any rider wants to do is contend with a handful of other locked bikes while they try to squeeze into the space available. Like any car park there needs to be space to get in and out when the bicycle facility is full to capacity. The biggest oversight in design layouts is lack of consideration of the width and length of various bikes.
4. SUITABILITY—Select the right parking products. We have designed a range of products in response to demand from employers, architects, and builders. The products vary greatly in size and shape and reflect the various users of parking products, as well as factors such as space and security.
5. SECURITY—Make it safe and secure. If you install bike parking in a dark, secluded area, few cyclists are going to use it. Riders are only going to use bike parking facilities if they feel safe and if their bicycles are secure.
6. AESTHETICS—Make it attractive because beauty catches the eye. Clean, brightly colored, well-lit and maintained spaces will attract riders to use bike parking facilities. Providing well-maintained showers and change rooms for riders is a perk and, after parking availability, will usually seal the deal.
By following these principles we developed a comprehensive range of bicycle parking products and services based on expert knowledge. Listening to our customers helped us understand what they need.
The racks we design often have quirky names: the Mona Lisa places your bike safely and securely on the wall like a precious work of art, the Anaconda is an extensible snake, and the Ned Kelly allows you to hang your bike—like the eponymous 19th century Australian outlaw who suffered the same fate.
While we may have fun with the names of our products, we are serious about their design, and our commitment to more people cycling more often.UX
Sarah Dalley is the communications coordinator at Bicycle Victoria. She works with all the programs that sit under the Bicycle Victoria umbrella. She began her career as an advertising account manager. Struggling to find her motivation from retail accounts she searched for work in the area of her recreational passion—sports and fitness. She is currently studying a Masters of Business, Sport Management and rows with an elite squad in Melbourne.
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This article was originally printed in User Experience Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 4, 2008.
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