Bike parking at transit stations

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Bicycling is a great way to complete the last mile connection for transit operations and transit users are often faced with two options: leave the bike at their station or bring it aboard with them. Providing welcoming, secure bicycle parking facilities is a great way to help customers feel at ease leaving their bicycle and to expand the catchment area for transit station use.

While many transit systems allow customers to bring their bicycle on trains, some transit systems, such as San Francisco’s MUNI Light Rail do not. When bicycle access is prohibited or limited, it is even more essential that systems provide bike parking that will allow people to leave their bicycle, regardless of value.

Class I Bike Parking

Class 1 Bicycle Parking Spaces are defined as “Facilities which protect the entire bicycle, its components and accessories against theft and against inclement weather, including wind-driven rain.”[1]. These facilities include lockers, monitored parking, or restricted access areas. For customers who plan to leave their bicycle at the transit station all day, Class I bike parking is often the preferred choice.

Long-Term Locker Rentals

Some transit systems, such as LA Metro, offer locker rentals on an six-month basis to individuals. Long-term rental programs often require the public to be added to waiting lists and prevent casual use of lockers – but since they require little technological investments, are often less costly than other programs.

Electronic Lockers

Modern technology allows for easy pay-per-minute locker rentals using systems such as BikeLink or magnetized passes. Depending on the provider, these programs can accommodate immediate sign-up for casual locker users and require little oversight by agency staff, especially if integrated with the transit users farecard.

Concerns with Lockers

Transit systems often have lockers both inside and outside stations, though security is sometimes a concern for underground stations. Lockers are large and bulky and are often an attractive canvas for graffiti.

Limited Access Rooms

The BART Station at Embarcadero and Berkeley have locked rooms where customers can gain access to the room only by using a membership-based BikeLink card. The Embarcadero Station room is available to users during station hours, while the Berkeley Station facility is available 24 hours a day for subscribers. By limiting access, this type of facility can qualify as Class I Bike Parking, though the bikes are still prone to theft if someone is able to gain access to the room. Users are encouraged to use standard locking process and remove components, though reported thefts are rare. Since these types of facilities require user registration, users must plan ahead and request an access key weeks in advance, which can limit acceptance from a broader base.

Valet/Monitored Stations

Just like car valet or monitored parking garages, some transit stations operate programs where bicycles are either parked or, at least, watched by a paid staff member. BART Stations in Fruitvale and Berkeley and CalTrain in downtown San Francisco operate street-level bike parking that also operate as bike repair shops and bike accessory shops. The City of Long Beach operates a Bike Station in a transit-only mall near the LA Metro Blue Line station in downtown. These programs are often funded in part by the transit systems and operated by private for-profit companies. Valet stations park bikes during the day at no or low-cost and operate during operational hours of the transit system. Some locations offer 24-hour access for members in addition to monitored station for an additional fee. Los Angeles Metro has plans to open valet facilities in Union Station and at the Hollywood/Vine Red Line station in the coming years.

Class II (short-term) Bike Parking

Class 2 bike parking is defined as: “Bicycle racks which permit the locking of the bicycle frame and one wheel to the rack and, which support the bicycle in a stable position without ds/Bicycle_Parking_Guidelines.pdf</ref> These include inverted-U bike racks and many other types of racks available through a variety of commercial companies.


Bike parking should be easily visible from the entrance of a transit station, and signage should be provided where appropriate. Bike access to the station should be made easy through elevators, escalators, or ramps and agencies to work to avoid requiring customers to carry bikes up or down stairs, if possible.

For security, bike parking should be provided on the interior of the faregate to reduce potential for theft. If there is a station agent, it is recommended the bike parking be located in their line of sight to further deter theft.

The area should be well-lit and not secluded for both personal safety and theft deterrence.

Types of Racks

While there are many bike racks available on the market, it is important that the rack have the ability to accommodate a variety of locks including U-locks and chains. The racks should allow an individual to easily secure their bicycle frame (not just the wheel) to the rack. Two points of contact help keeps bicycle upright, which can cause tripping hazards and/or damage bicycles.

BART Stations in Oakland have begun to use stacked bike parking which has increased capacity without increasing the footprint of the facility.

Abandoned Bike Policies

One of the most challenging aspects of providing public bike storage is managing abandoned bicycles. While the overwhelmingly majority of bicycles will be locked and removed in a timely manner, there will inevitably be a few bikes that are left for an extended period of time, reducing capacity. Transit agencies should post clear signage that bicycles may not be stored longer than a designated period and are subject to removal (for example, 72 hours). Though this law will not require daily enforcement, a periodic sweep of all parked bicycles can help to keep bike racks available to customers.

During these ‘sweeps’ a staff member may place a tag around the bicycle’s handlebars or wheel stating that the bike is subject to removal in 72 hours unless this tag is removed. Those who retrieve their bicycles in a timely fashion can simply remove the tag, and those who have left their bikes an extended period can be removed. This process would likely be required no more than 2-4 times a year for most stations.

Bike locks are relatively easy to remove, and there are a variety of agencies, such as local YMCA’s, homeless shelters, or other non-profits who would likely accept the bicycles as a donation for those in need. Contact a local bicycle advocacy organization in your area for more local recommendations.

  1. SFMTA. "Bicycle Parking: Standards, Guidelines, Recommendations." Accessed May 22, 2015