Where Should You Park Your Bike?

At my office, the CEO and each of the vice presidents have a clichéd perk: reserved parking spaces right next to the building. It is a mark of prestige and power to walk the shortest possible distance from your parking spot your desk.

Picture of a reserved parking space
Don’t tell the CEO that my spot is better.

I have a little secret: my spot that’s even closer…like 20 feet from my desk. Oh yeah, it’s covered parking. Please don’t tell the CEO.

As a bike commuter, you are going to form a long-term relationship with your parking space, so take some time to scout out the best possible spot.

Park Your Bike In Your Office

Picture of my bike
Where I Park

Your bike takes up a tiny amount of space, which means there may be a spot close to your desk for your ride. I’ve talked with people who keep their bikes in their office, in a stairwell, in the vestibule of a rear entrance, and (only IT guys can get away with this) in the server room.

Look around for empty offices, storage closets, coat rooms, or piles of empty boxes; also ask your HR people, chances are they have been approached about this before. If you find a place in your office with a layer of dust, you may be able to claim it. We have several unused cubicles in my office and one of them has become my bike’s home away from home. I didn’t ask permission before parking there, but it’s been almost two years and no one has mentioned it.

Parking indoors is generally more secure and keeps your bike out of the elements, reducing maintenance. Be careful though: if you bring a muddy, drippy bike into the office, the janitorial staff will notice and you could lose your prime parking. On bad weather days, I let my bike drip in the stairwell for an hour or so before bringing it to its desk.

Park Your Bike Outside

According the the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the size of a parking stall is 8 x 22 feet, or 176 square feet (does it insult you that your car gets more space at work than you do?). If your office has room to park cars, it has room to park bikes. Parking outside is less desirable for most people, because it may be less secure. For those who like to show off, parking outside may also mean fewer people see you with your bike. On the other hand, outside parking may be more convenient than dealing with doors, elevators, or stairs.

The first consideration when parking your bike outside is security: you’ll have a tough time riding home if your bike gets stolen. Start by talking to others who bicycle to your building or to your HR department (they may be considering secure bike parking). You can also talk with the manager, doorman, or security guard of your building; he’ll have an idea about secure places to park your bike, and may even give you access to “VIP parking.”

Most newer buildings have bike racks nearby and these are generally pretty secure; they may even be in your company’s parking garage. Increasingly, cities are installing racks as part of the public parking infrastructure. If a purpose-built rack isn’t available, you can also lock up next to a street sign (make sure it doesn’t come loose), a parking meter (make sure you have the right kind of lock), a railing (don’t block handicap ramps or walkways), or any other secure piece of metal. Be aware that some pieces of metal are private property, so check with the owner before locking up.

Your choice of parking spot will, in part, dictate the kind of locking system you will use. In my next post, I’ll talk about securing your ride.

Question: What concerns you most about parking your bike?