Bicycle Parking Etiquette

Seattle bicycle riders:

HERE NOW! locating 50+ public downtown bike parking racks with 1,000 parking spaces that you may not know about, but are handy when you want to park "off street".

Have you ever wondered about proper bicycle parking etiquette while going somewhere or commuting to work on your bicycle?

1). Been in a hurry?

2). Arrived at a convenient bike rack?

3). Can't park there because one or two users, have hogged the bike rack?

We like to call these people RackHogs,.

A RackHog is someone who thinks their bike is the most important one in the entire history of bicycling and has locked their bike up against the rack so that the slots meant to be used by the bike tires of others are blocked from use. And their bike is long enough so that even the ends of the rack are not reachable with a U-Lock.

Your options here are many, and some are a little subversive, like locking your bike to their frame or wheel, or worse.

Probably best though, since you ARE in a rush, and since your bike IS the most important one since bicycles were designed, is to quickly find another place to park and lock your bike, and... if you have time stick a note on their bike admonishing them for being a RackHog. For those of you using Share Bikes these rules apply to you more than ever. Think about where you leave that bike.. seems like many people don't.

But what are the rules of etiquette for bicycle parking at public bike racks?

Well, first of all we must recognize and acknowledge that not all bike racks provided and installed by city, county, transit, state and private property management companies are either a). in a convenient place for bicycle riders to find or feel comfortable about using, and b). installed properly or sensibly.

Just yesterday I arrived to park at a sidewalk bicycle rack outside the Seattle Municipal Tower. Immediately I see that another bicyclist has parked their bike sideways to the rack so that any slots meant for bike tires of other bikes are blocked from being used. This BikeHog had effectively reduced this rack meant for eight bicycles to a bicycle rack usurped by one. I did manage to find a place on the end of the rack to squeeze in but there wasn't space for a third. It was obvious right away to me that the person parked there is a BikeHog, no doubt feeling smug about parking in this manner because their bike name translated from the French means "the wind".

But as I thought about it a little further I also noted that there was no way that this particular bike rack, as installed by the city, was done in a manner that would allow proper use. It was bolted down too close to the sidewalk and street.

If indeed bicyclists had been using this rack in the way it was designed and intended, bikes would be hanging off the curb into the parking slots, and also be impeding pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk.

So one demerit for the BikeHog and one demerit for the city engineers who install these racks with little knowledge of training on how bicyclists really use them.

The first and probably best alternative in a case like this is to find another parking place. There are many street side bicycle racks in Seattle ( 3,000+ ). But there are also many more out of the way parking spots in public building parking garages throughout Seattle.

Our Google map of over 50 separate downtown Seattle bicycle parking locations is now on-line. Most of these locations are inside, well lit, and near areas monitored by parking attendant, and get little use. They are conveniently located inside or near many of the offices, shops, and other places you might be heading for in Seattle's downtown core.

But what should etiquette should there be in place for parking at a shared, public bike rack?

First I wondered about if there are laws for parking bicycles. I could not find one for Seattle but did find that Minneapolis and the State of California do have laws that address bike parking: ( Other Seattle bicycling related laws are found on our resources page ) Bicycle Parking 21210 CVC (California Vehicle Code) No person shall leave a bicycle lying on its side on any sidewalk, or shall park a bicycle on a sidewalk in any other position, so that there is not an adequate path for pedestrian traffic.

And in Minneapolis:

Legal and Illegal Bicycle Parking (MCC 490.150) • Legal: Bicycles may legally park upon a sidewalk and be temporarily attached to sign posts and bicycle racks.

• Illegal: It is illegal to attach a bicycle to trees, parking meter posts, street light posts, traffic signal posts, or hand railings. Parked bicycles may not impede the normal and reasonable movement of pedestrian or other traffic.

Right away I see that there are differences here from what we see in normal daily city bike parking. I know that signposts, trees, and railings all are fair game when a bike rack is not nearby, or not usable.

So a Bicycle Rack Rules of Etiquette needs to be developed. And we need your help. Please send observations, pictures, and helpful commentary, and we will share with the world at large, no doubt affecting public policy and providing a fresh new page for etiquette and manners.

In some paces proper bike etiquette is not an issue, our bike rack and storage page shows an automated bike garage in Tokyo.

What Other Visitors Have Said

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RackHogs Must Rust Not rated yet
One week. Two. The same bike everyday..taking up space. Parts disappearing one by one until weeks later, only a rusting hulk is left. Where did RackHog …

New look. New Location.


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