Serving the Urban Commuter
Oakland, like many major metropolitan areas, is a commuter town and is becoming more of a bike commuter city every day. With improvements in our local economy, we are seeing more street repaving, the addition of designated bike lanes and major bike infrastructure installations with the city’s Complete Streets Program. BART no longer has a ban on bikes during commute hours and many AC Transit buses are equipped with bike racks. The passage of Measure BB ensures an additional $1 billion over the next 30 years to fund more bike and pedestrian infrastructure. All of this means safer, more convenient bike riding facilities, which in turn means more folks opting to use a bike as their main or sole source of transportation.
Housing developers around the country are providing bike-friendly amenities in an effort to attract young, hip, sustainability-minded professionals. Bike parking is in high demand as fewer residents need car parking. From bike ramps in the entryway, to bike lockers, bike washing and maintenance stations, these residences are standing out as desirable places to live. For example, The Domain in downtown Oakland even offers a workshop for residents to work on their bikes.
Employers are also doing their part to support bike commuters. I’m currently working with several downtown Oakland office buildings to build, add or upgrade bike parking facilities for their tenants.
Does your building have a bike rack that’s along the isolated or poorly lit side of the building? Racks that are far from the entrance, hard to find or perceived to be vulnerable to vandalism will not be used by most cyclists, thus adding wear and tear to other areas of your building.
While there are no requirements to provide bike parking facilities for single-family residential rentals, the City of Oakland requires one short-term (e.g., sidewalk racks) parking space per 20 units and one long-term (e.g., cage, lockers) parking space for each 4 units in a multifamily residential property (Planning Code Chapter 17.117). Check with your local planning department to see if your city has a similar ordinance.
Safe and Secure Bike Parking
As a property manager, you should provide a welcoming and safe environment for your tenants. This should include convenient and secure bike parking. With the increase in bike riding has come an alarming increase in bike theft, often from residential properties in which tenants have a false sense of security. One apartment complex I work with recently reported seven bikes stolen in one night. As the property manager, this becomes your issue to deal with.
While it would be fantastic if more bike-friendly perks were offered at residential buildings, it would be thrilling to see safe, secure, properly-utilized bike parking in every apartment building in the East Bay. When working with a property manager on bike parking needs, I look at bike parking from a security point of view, with a four-pronged approach: 1.) Bike Parking facilities: bike rooms or cages, bike racks located in a way that they will be highly utilized; 2.) Bike Locks: high-security-rated locks should be used, even in access-controlled bike rooms; 3.) Bike Registration: registered bikes are four times more likely to be returned to their owners; and 4.) Communication and Education: from signage to new tenant welcome packages, the message about proper bike security can never be delivered too often.
The following are tips to consider when installing bike parking on your rental properties:
1.) Devote enough space, inside if possible, to provide bike parking based on the (growing) needs of your tenants. A bike room with controlled access or a locked bike cage allows you to provide an additional level of security, as does a camera placed inside or near the entrance to the room. Privacy issues need to be addressed, of course.
2.) The right location and the right layout can ensure convenience as well as added security. Considerations for either indoor or outdoor parking include: locating your bike parking where it is easy to get in and out of with a heavily-loaded bike; a well-lit, weather-protected location that is conveniently located to tenants, taking into consideration normal foot traffic flow; locating outside racks in a high-traffic area; placing within eye shot of destination and along adjacent bikeways and streets if possible; and balancing the space available with desired capacity to ensure that enough space is allotted and that the configuration of the room accommodates desired capacity with the selected rack footprint and aisle ways (48” minimum aisle way, 60” is preferred).
3.) Install bike racks that are approved by the Association of Bicycle and Pedestrian Professionals (www.apbp.org). These allow for each bike to have two points of contact to lock to the rack and prevent bikes from falling over. Expect to invest $50-$100 per bike, for either single racks or multi-rack configurations. Be sure to follow manufacturer’s installation guidelines, including setback and egress.
4.) Provide space for non-typical bikes, such as long-tailed cargo bikes and trailers. More and more families are replacing a car with cargo bikes, which have their own unique parking requirements.
5.) Provide electrical outlets for charging batteries on electric bikes.
6.) Consider additional bike amenities. Bike repair stands such as Saris’ Cycle Aid Station, a bike pump or a steel bar where residents can lock their U-locks when not needed are all additional perks to let your tenants and prospects know that you are taking their bike commute needs seriously.
Remind your tenants to use only U-locks or bike chains that are rated for a “major metropolitan area.” Kryptonite Locks are the industry-leader, and carry an insurance policy against theft.
Are you located near a bike shop? Ask them to offer a discount on U-locks to your residents. They will be happy to see these new customers that may not have made their way into their store yet. Or better yet, offer a U-lock to new residents as a move-in special.
East Bay’s bike advocacy group, Bike East Bay, does a lot of work in the area of bike theft prevention, including providing a page to the free bike registry, Bike Index. Include this information in any communication to tenants regarding your bike parking facility. In the event their bike is stolen, law enforcement and others will be better equipped to identify a stolen bike and return it to the rightful owner.
Signage directing tenants to your bike parking facility may help in keeping walkways and stairways clear. Consider placing a graphic of proper bike locking near the bike racks. Track cards or posters with your bike parking information on your building’s community bulletin board or as a handout to new tenants is another way to demonstrate your ongoing commitment to your bike-riding residents. Bike East Bay has lots of information to help you deliver the message.
Bike theft prevention in a residential community is a shared responsibility. Tenants need to have access to safe and secure bike parking, but they also need to properly lock their bikes. Look for your resident bike advocate (believe me, you have one) and enlist their help to get started on your bike facility program.
How Can You Get Started?
Bay Area Bikes has partnered with Saris, Inc. to provide recommendations and products for bike parking and bike room facilities. As a board member of Bike East Bay, I will come to your location, take pictures and measurements and discuss the possibilities given your available space. Within two weeks, I will meet with you again or email you the recommendations for your space. I’ll provide you with detailed drawings (overlaid on your CAD drawings if you have them), product specifications and an itemized quotation at that time. All of this is done at no charge to you. Included with all products are detailed installation instructions, installation hardware and a manufacturer’s warranty. All Saris products are 100% U.S.-made and can be easily installed by your maintenance staff.
I encourage you to email me at to set up a site visit or to get further information.
Glenda Barnhart is the co-owner of Bay Area Bikes, a locally-owned bike shop with four distinct stores in uptown Oakland, Jack London Square and Pittsburg. She is on the board of Bike East Bay and is a life-long cyclist who wants to change the way we relate to our world—through the bicycle. She can be reached at 510-763-BIKE or .