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Biking should be a convenient and reliable choice, from the beginning to the end of the trip. This depends in part on the availability of bicycle support facilities such as parking, repair and maintenance resources, showers and, for some, storage facilities. The Bike Plan’s online survey revealed that many non-cyclists do not cycle because they do not want to arrive at work looking unprofessional or sweaty. Bicycle support facilities can help address that issue.

This chapter focuses on existing and proposed parking and support facilities and the policies and programs recommended to enable them.

Examples of bicycle parking typically found on university campuses are described below. The appropriate type of parking for each location varies based on the space available and how long people plan to leave a bicycle parked there.
At minimum, bicycle parking consists of an immovable, anchored object that a bike can be locked to using any type of lock. Basic bicycle parking should be designed for the purpose of parking bikes and must hold the bike up through at least two points of contact. On college campuses, basic bicycle parking usually consists of metal racks. A recommended list of racks is available from the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP), the only national group that produces bicycle rack design guidance. 1 Bicycle racks should be installed such that they are fully accessible from all sides, not next to walls or too close to driveways. Basic bicycle parking is best suited for short-term use.

1 Bicycle Parking Guidelines 2nd Edition is available for purchase.

Covered Parking
Covered bicycle parking at Drexel University

Covered bicycle parking consists of racks with some type of covering to prevent precipitation from landing on bicycles. Most often, this is a simple roof or canopy, either a separate structure constructed to cover the racks, or part of a building’s structure, such as the covered bicycle parking at Kenan Labs pictured below. Covered parking can also be located inside a parking deck. Covered parking helps prolong the life of bicycles and keeps them safer for riding by reducing their deterioration due to exposure to natural elements. Covered bicycle parking is ideal for short-term use and adequate for long-term storage.

Secure, outdoor bicycle parking can come in a number of forms. Freestanding bicycle cages can be constructed to completely enclose a set of racks. These cages are only accessible to those with a key, card or combination. Cages may also be placed inside parking decks, providing both security and cover for bicycles. Generally, this type of parking is for all-day use by daily campus visitors who will not use their bikes for travel within campus during the day. Secure outdoor parking is recommended for visible, central locations accessible to a wide variety of bicyclists. A visible location will increase awareness of available secure bicycle parking, encourage greater use of the racks and increase bicyclists’ safety as they come and go. Secure bicycle parking is well suited for long-term bicycle storage, especially if it is also situated to protect bicycles from precipitation.
Indoor parking is the most secure and protected form of bike parking. Indoor parking can occur in a separate room dedicated to this purpose or in a shared public space. Wall-mounted hooks can be placed in a wide hallway, room or closet allowing users to hang bikes for storage. This method requires compliance with fire and accessibility egress requirements in the area. Indoor bicycle parking is ideal for long-term bicycle storage.

Bike Parking Cage
MSU’s larger bike parking cage in a campus garage

Michigan State University (MSU) and the University of California at Berkeley are two campuses with good examples of secure bicycle parking in parking decks. MSU installed a 50-bike secure parking cage and a 23-bike parking room in two of their parking decks in 2013. The cage is accessed with a university ID card and one also contains a self-service repair stand. At UC Berkeley, three secure parking areas are spread throughout campus and are accessed using a personal access code. These facilities are available only to university affiliates who have registered their bicycles.

The University regulates the type and installation of racks in the campus design guidelines under “Site Appurtenances.” These guidelines state that bicycle parking should be included in projects where appropriate and that racks should be located “as close as possible to the perceived destination of the bicyclist.” Guidelines additionally specify that racks should be installed on paved surfaces, with brick paving being the preferred surface.

These guidelines also govern the placement of racks with respect to other objects such as buildings, walls or tree wells. Generally, these guidelines are followed and racks are installed correctly. One example where parking was sited well is the Genome Sciences Building, where it was integrated into the courtyard design to take advantage of a covered area. There are a few exceptions where racks that are placed too close to parallel building walls do not leave sufficient space to lock a bicycle.

In some locations, racks are also located farther from the door than is desirable and not on the most direct pathway to the main entrance. Poorly planned parking leads to parking on stair and ramp railings at the building, which makes the ramps and steps less safe for use by pedestrians.

There is no secure outdoor or indoor bicycle parking on campus, though some riders keep bicycles indoors in an ad hoc manner. Providing designated indoor bicycle parking is feasible at UNC-CH since there is no prohibition on taking bicycles into buildings as long as fire and accessibility codes are not violated. Another UNC system school, UNC Wilmington, provides indoor bike parking in all new construction as part of that university’s requirement for buildings to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified.

Greenlaw Hall Bike Rack
This rack at Greenlaw is placed an adequate distance from the wall for bicyclists to park correctly.
Law School Bike Rack
This rack at the Law School is positioned too close to the adjacent wall, necessitating turning a bike’s handlebars to lock the frame to the rack and only allowing for locking the front wheel or frame, rather than the back wheel.
Most locations on campus have ample basic bike parking to meet daily demand. Respondents to the online survey and users of the online interactive map had the opportunity to give feedback about parking on campus, and 75.6% of respondents to the online survey indicated that they can always find bike parking at their campus destinations. However, responses on both the survey and online map about locations where parking is typically difficult did cluster around a few locations, mostly near the Pit, as can be seen in Figure 14. Locations around the Pit with a shortage of bicycle parking included the Undergraduate Library, Lenoir Dining Hall and Davis Library. The FedEx Global Education Center, UNC Hospitals and the courtyard shared by the schools of Social Work, Pharmacy and Public Health were also noted by respondents as locations that have a shortage of bicycle parking.

Racks near the Pit were observed to be near or at 100% capacity at midday on a weekday. Occupancy was less in the evenings. Bicycles were also locked to railings and benches in this area, encroaching into pedestrian space and preventing the use of outdoor furniture. Racks at academic buildings on and near McCorkle and Polk Places were at less than 100% occupancy on weekdays, and there were fewer bikes locked to non-rack objects in these areas.

WikiMap Parking Input
Figure 14. WikiMap Parking Input.
Bikes Around Pit
Bikes locked to trees, railings and benches are typical in the heavily trafficked area near the Pit.
The campus standard style of rack on the UNC-CH campus is the wave rack. Bicycles are parked perpendicular to wave racks. Because there is only one point of contact between the bicycle and the rack, bicycles often fall over. This causes damage to bicycles and takes up space, preventing other bicyclists from accessing the rack. The following photograph is a good example of this problem.

Bike Rack with Damaged Bikes
This rack near Carmichael and Teague Residence Halls shows a frequent result of locking to a wave rack: fallen, damaged bikes.
Abandoned and/or damaged bicycles tend to accumulate on University bicycle racks throughout the academic year. As stated in the current DPS Traffic and Parking Ordinance (Ordinance), these bicycles are removed once a year if they are not claimed within 30 days of the end of a semester or the summer term. Bicycles may not be parked or stored in the following locations:

  1. inside a University building, where an unsafe or hazardous condition is created for building occupants;
  2. against or attached to any tree, bush, plant or foliage;
  3. against or attached to any electrical fixture, sign post, railing, public seating fixture or emergency safety device; or
  4. in any other area where parking is prohibited specifically by this Ordinance.

Bicycles parked in these locations are removed as they are noticed by DPS. A $10 impoundment fee may be charged to the owner to recover the bicycle. The Ordinance also specifies that it is the right of the University to impound a bicycle considered “junked, abandoned, lost/stolen, parked/stored or operated in violation of this Ordinance, or state or local fire safety regulations.”

Impounded bicycles are kept for 30 days by DPS before deemed University property. Letters are sent to owners of registered bicycles informing them of impoundment, and when an owner is unknown, notice is posted at DPS. Bicycles that become University property are auctioned annually as-is in a fundraiser for the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity’s charity work.

Over the 4.5 year period between the beginning of 2008 and August 2013, there were 336 bicycle thefts reported to the DPS. Thefts have been increasing with 101 reported in 2011 and 90 in 2012, up from a average of 38 in the previous three years. The theft of a bicycle has a major impact on a bicyclist’s lifestyle, particularly if it is the owner’s only or best means of transportation. DPS helps students keep bikes safe from theft by providing 50% off coupons for U-locks with campus bicycle registration. Over-crowded racks can lead bicyclists to lock with cable locks which can have a longer reach, but are less secure than U-locks. The use of cable locks was observed regularly in over-crowded campus bicycle parking on wave racks. Crowded wave racks can also lead bicyclists to lock only a wheel to the rack, leaving the rest of the bicycle vulnerable to theft by removing the wheel.
In order to create a supportive environment for cyclists and to encourage more bicycle use, the following approach to bicycle parking is recommended for UNC-CH.
It is recommended that the adopted University bicycle parking policy address the following topics:

Parking Supply

  • Assess the need for additional racks through an annual survey of bicycle parking capacity. Support from volunteers or interns can help offset the resources needed for this survey.
    • Conduct the survey in late September on a non-rainy weekday.
    • Areas where parking exceeds 80% occupancy should be targeted for addition of new racks where space permits.
  • Aim for parking supply according to the standards enumerated below. These figures are based on the goal of a modest increase in bicycle mode share. Results of the recommended annual parking survey should override guidance below.
    • Residence halls and other University-owned student residences: Supply parking at a rate of 1 space per 7 building occupants. This is based on national standards and policies in comparable settings. Support from University Housing could be sought for this recommendation.
      • For example: A 250-bed residence hall would be built with 36 bicycle spaces.
    • Classroom buildings: Supply parking at a rate of 1 space per 15 seats. This is based on a 75% seat occupancy at any class time and an estimated 20% of class attendees arriving by bicycle.
      • For example: A 1000-seat classroom building would be built with 150 bicycle parking spaces.
    • Office buildings: Supply parking at a rate of 1 space per 10 employees. This is based on an estimated 10% of employees arriving by bicycle.
    • Racks associated with a particular building should be located within 50 feet of its doorway(s) or inside the building itself.
U racks
U racks are also available in a series of attached racks that can aid with proper spacing and lessen the number of attachment points needed.

Parking Type

  • Prioritize covered parking at residence halls as student bicycles are most likely to be parked on racks for extended periods of time.
  • Provide academic and office buildings with short-term outdoor parking at a minimum and seek opportunities for other types of longer-term parking as described in this chapter.

Equipment Specifications 2

  • Revise University design guidelines to specify the inverted U rack as the preferred type. Its strength, economy, ease of installation, ease of use and versatility in placement are major advantages over the wave rack. A single U rack accommodates two bicycles.
  • Install racks according to the APBP Guidelines, and train staff on proper placement and installation techniques.

Parking in New Construction

  • Require new construction on campus to provide appropriate bike parking based upon the building use per the supply guidelines above.
  • Incorporate indoor bike parking into building design whenever possible. Indoor parking must be close to entrances for ease of use and to reduce conflicts with other building occupants. Underutilized spaces such as under stairways can be considered for parking, and separate bike rooms should also be considered as part of building design.
  • It was observed that more parking could potentially occur under roof overhangs that afford some protection.

Retrofitting Parking

  • Over time, retrofit all existing wave style racks on campus and replace with inverted U racks. The replacements will occur as funding is available and as renovation and new projects occur. Retrofitting with inverted U racks should be prioritized based on location, as measured in the annual bike parking capacity survey.
  • Retrofitting existing racks is a lower priority, generally, than providing an adequate number of spaces at prioritized locations.

2 Guidance on rack spacing and placement is given in Appendix C. It is also available in the APBP guidelines.

It is critical to add bike parking so bicyclists do not lock their bikes to non-rack objects. The existing stock of racks that DPS has should be installed where space is available. Possible priority locations are the west side of Lenoir Dining Hall and along the north side of Davis Library.
It is recommended that the University conduct a comprehensive survey of buildings to assess space availability for designated indoor bicycle parking. Building managers and/or departmental parking coordinators could work with student interns to complete the survey. The interns should be trained to identify spaces that could fit vertical or horizontal bike parking and to estimate how many bikes could be accommodated. This survey will be a resource when funding is identified to add new parking. Buildings where existing bike commuters have offices should be prioritized for indoor parking. A one- or two-building pilot project may be conducted to gauge interest and usage.
Bell Tower Deck Open Space
This open space in Bell Tower Deck is one of the potential locations for bicycle parking.
Survey all campus parking decks to determine where opportunities for installing basic bike parking and secure bicycle cages exist. Prioritize decks that are centrally located, such as Bell Tower, Rams Head and Cobb. Cages should only be available to users who have registered their bicycles with DPS in order to increase compliance with the bicycle registration policy. Coordination with DPS will be required.

Bike Valet
The University of Nebraska bike valet is available at all home football games.
Offer valet bike parking at large events such as concerts and athletic events, in order to make arrival by bicycle more convenient and to reduce event-related traffic congestion. Minimal equipment is needed for the service, and a few paid student staff can act as attendants. Pilots can be conducted to gauge interest and the service advertised through campus and community bicycle groups. Bike valet at University of Nebraska football games has become very popular, with hundreds of bicyclists using the service at every event.

The existing bicycle impoundment policy does not keep bicycle racks clear of abandoned bicycles. Abandoned bikes take up space that could otherwise be used for bike storage. This is especially problematic on wave racks, where neglected bicycles often tip over and block multiple spaces.

It is recommended that UNC-CH adopt an enforceable policy that keeps bike racks clear and usable. It is most important to clear bike racks near academic, office and hospital buildings, because these see the most frequent turnover.

Other campuses follow a procedure that clears bikes in high-traffic areas at least every other month during the academic year and clears abandoned bicycles from all campus racks at the end of semesters. This can be done on a rolling basis for individual sectors of campus. Abandoned bicycles can be defined as those that are not rideable (flat tires, bent wheels and missing seats, etc.) or those that have not been moved from a rack for 14 days. The following procedure is an example from Harvard University:

  1. Attach a tag to each bike stating that it has been deemed abandoned. Allow two weeks for the owner to move or repair the bicycle.
  2. Revisit racks two weeks later to impound remaining abandoned bicycles.
  3. Contact owners if bicycles are registered with DPS. Allow owners two weeks to claim their bicycle.
  4. Hold all bicycles for 30 days total after which they become University property.

This tagging and removal could be coordinated by DPS staff, and may be less costly if performed by student employees. Other universities with on-campus bike shops partner with shop staff to tag and remove bicycles. The shop also takes care of recycling bicycle parts and, in some cases, refurbishing bicycles for sale.

In addition to supplying adequate levels and types of parking, UNC-CH can provide other supportive bicycle facilities and services such as the ones described below. Other bicycle-friendly universities offer facilities and services like these, as part of their effort to make bicycling as convenient and attractive a choice as possible.
It is recommended that the University provide additional shower access to commuting faculty, staff and students. The most convenient situation for bicyclists is a shower at their destination building. Recognizing that this is infeasible for every building, an alternative is to provide registered bicycle commuters access to showers at campus recreational facilities for no charge before 9 o’clock each morning. One Cards could be programmed with this commuter designation and coded to allow access during these restricted hours. Coordination with Campus Recreation will be required to implement this program. Duke University has experienced success with a similar program for their bicycle commuters.

In addition to implementing the recreational facility shower program described above, it is recommended that the University study current shower facility use by bicycle commuters. New shower facilities were recently installed at the Genome Sciences building, and their use could be reviewed through a web survey whose link is posted at the facility. This will help determine whether showers like this should be considered for other buildings in the future. For future new buildings, the decision to provide commuter showers should be based on the proximity of that building to other shower facilities that are available to commuters.

It is recommended that UNC-CH work with student bicycle groups to determine whether there is sufficient demand and potential for a campus bike shop. Most bicycle-friendly universities have an on-campus bike repair facility that sometimes also serves as a hub of bicycle activity on campus. There are a variety of approaches to providing on-campus maintenance and repair, from a freestanding repair stand that provides tools and a pump, to a full-service bike shop operated by the university. Several different approaches are explored below. UNC-CH has taken a step in this direction by providing an air compressor pump at the Graham Student Union.

It may be that more than one maintenance and repair option can be implemented. Whatever approach UNC-CH decides to take, student involvement in the development and implementation of the concept will be critical. Several different maintenance and repair options are described next.

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Repair Stations

DIY Repair Station
DIY repair stations are often placed near bicycle parking and areas with high student traffic, such as this one at Cal Tech.
Unstaffed bicycle repair stations are typically installed outdoors and include a small kit of bicycle tools suitable for basic repairs, a tire pump and a means for hanging the bicycle while it is repaired. UNC-Asheville has installed this type of repair station. They held a ribbon cutting for their fix-it station in fall 2013 and used its installation to launch an effort to improve bicycling on campus. The stations are a relatively low-cost but high-impact way to increase the visibility of bicycling and empower community members to do their own repairs. 3

It is recommended that at least one repair station be installed on campus in the short-term. Investment in one of these stations and placement in a high-visibility location like the Pit, would send a strong message that UNC-CH supports bicyclists. A staff member or department would need to be assigned responsibility for regularly checking the station to ensure that it is in good working condition.

Mobile Repair Shop Visits

Some campuses enter into agreements with local bicycle shops to periodically visit campus and set up temporary locations for repairs. Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia works with a local mobile bicycle shop that visits campus weekly to provide repairs to students’ and employees’ bicycles. UNC-CH could contract with a vendor to provide minor bicycle repairs at no cost to students and staff and potentially arrange discounts for more significant repairs. If a bicycle is in need of major repair, the owner could take it to the vendor’s shop, possibly also for a University-arranged discount.

Additionally, the University could work with a vendor to provide a seasonal program whereby the bike shop transports bicycles to and from campus in the spring or fall, in order to perform full tune ups in preparation for the semester.

Student-Run Mobile Shop

This type of shop is largely dependent upon student interest. University of Colorado-Boulder and UNC-Greensboro both operate successful mobile mechanic programs. UNC-Greensboro pays student interns to serve as bike mechanics on an on-call basis to make small repairs.4 The advantages of the mobile set-ups is that there is minimal physical space required, students can take ownership of program operations and competition with local shops is minimal. A student-run shop presumes that there are students with mechanic skills who can perform the repairs, and that consideration is given to competition with local bike repair shops.

A student-run shop will only work if there is strong interest from a group of students who can shepherd the project through its initial stages. Tar Heel Bikes, through its bike share program, is demonstrating that this kind of student-led initiative is possible at UNC-CH.

Student-Operated Permanent Shop

Mobile Mechanic
University of Colorado Boulder’s mobile mechanic program is popular with the campus community.
Some campuses have dedicated shop space where the operations are either wholly or mostly run by students. This option is only available if the university does not have prohibitions on competing with local businesses. For example, UNC Asheville’s student-operated shop offers only minimal repairs and accessories for sale, so as not to compete with local shops. 5

Permanent campus bicycle repair shops often become a hub of bicycle activity, and include an educational component in addition to performing bicycle repairs. The repair shop can also teach owners about how their bicycle operates and how they might fix it themselves in the future. Some student shops have a university staff manager who is a paid employee, most often from an outdoor recreation department. Both shops managed by students and those managed by staff depend upon the professionalism and dedication of student workers. The advantage of a permanent shop is that it can perform more extensive repairs, stock more parts for repair and possibly sell new and used bicycles.

As mentioned earlier, some campus shops also repair and sell bikes that were abandoned on campus. They may work with campus police departments to assess, recycle and repair abandoned bicycles and their parts. They may also operate the tagging and impounding programs for the departments. This is an important function, as the resale of abandoned bikes creates a revenue stream and the police are relieved from spending their time clearing bicycle racks of abandoned bikes.

3 Two examples of public repair stations are from Bike Fixtation and Dero.

4 The repair program is available to affiliates with registered bicycles only and is overseen by Parking Operations & Campus Access Management.

5 Information about UNC-Asheville’s shop.

Kenan Labs Bicycle Parking
Bicycle parking placement at Kenan Labs takes advantage of a breezeway to provide cover from precipitation.