How to keep your bike safe

I love bikes and often fantasize about the sleek, sexy city bike I’m gonna have some day. You know, the one with the paint job you want to lick or the components you can’t keep your hands off. But then I think about how sad I’ll be when she’s stolen and so, with my helmeted head hanging low, continue to ride my clunky, dinged-up behemoth.

Bike commuting is on the rise and so is the manufacture of beautiful city bikes. So how do we have these great bikes, ride them to work, the café and the store without worry that they’ll be stolen?

In San Francisco many landlords do not allow bikes inside office buildings. But thanks to the work of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC), there’s a new ordinance that will allow for bikes in commercial buildings. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 9-2 in favor of the ordinance, signaling a stronger commitment to a bike-friendly city.

The ordinance has a couple of exceptions but they will only be granted if there is secure, off-street parking or indoor, no-cost parking within three blocks of the building.

The new ordinance means that landlords, building managers and employers will be looking for more and better ways to securely store bikes. We’ll see more bike storage rooms and bike cages in building basements and garages, as well as more interior bike parking. And that’s where things get interesting.

Many people simply ride a junker to work, sacrificing speed and style for the lower odds of it getting stolen from sub-standard parking. And some joke that you’re not a real San Franciscan until you’ve had your bike stolen. So ask any bike commuter where they prefer to park their bike and most will say inside, ideally near their office or next to their desk. But this is not always practical or popular with coworkers or the fire marshal.

That’s where interior bike racks come in handy.

Bike safe

Zynga bike room Credit: Orange Photography

Bike safe

When Zynga designed its new SOMA offices, they created a highly visible, accessible and fun bike room. They’ve used a variety of vertical and horizontal racks as well as playful architectural elements. How fitting for a game company!

Bike safeBike safeBike safeWilliams-Sonoma just launched a 20-bike fleet to help employees get from building to building in San Francisco. The fleet of cream-colored bikes from Public is spread out with 4-5 bikes at each of four locations. At two of their buildings – headquarters on Van Ness and Beach and at the Ice House, they have installed racks in the lobby, giving the bikes safe, secure and highly visible parking.

Bike safe

Check out this sleek hitch rack in a white powder coat. It’s nearly invisible next to the bike. There are four of these hitch racks placed under a sweeping staircase, showcasing the bikes, much like other artistic elements in this space.

Here’s one of Williams-Sonoma’s bike rooms – by far, one of the nicest we’ve seen. But we’d expect nothing less from the company that’s brought us Pottery Barn and West Elm!

Bike safe

At Facebook’s Menlo Park campus, every building is outfitted with wall-mounted vertical racks.  The design, alternating the height of the rack, stores more bikes per linear foot without tangling handlebars. The galvanized steel finish fits Facebook’s industrial “hacked” design aesthetic.

Bike safe

And one of our favorites: indoor bike parking at Actual Café in Oakland. Yes, you’re encouraged to bring park your bike indoors! This is where I want to go with my shiny new bike – the one I’m afraid to get without options like this throughout the Bay Area.

Throughout Europe and the UK, most buildings have as many spaces for bike parking as they do for car parking. Not so in the US. But we are going to change this.

Many buildings have public space that could be used for parking. Around corners, under stairwells, and in wide hallways, you’ll find dead space that’s perfect for a few bikes and convenient for bike commuters.

Bike safe

Bike safe

Check out this great bike “rack” from Cycloc. It’s a simple and stylish way to get your bike up and out of the way. You can hang a single bike or use much of a wall for many bikes. Watch the video to witness bike-parking-turned-art.

Many companies have little-used closets and storage rooms that can be tweaked to offer space for bike parking. Vertical racks are often the solution here, since they park bikes so efficiently.

Here’s a great example from Mozilla. This is a new bike room in their San Francisco building garage. The room was outfitted to store their 20-bike fleet. With these vertical racks, all 20 fit into this small space.

Bike safe

With this new “bikes in buildings” ordinance, San Francisco will lead the way toward a new standard in commercial space bike parking. Maybe then I’ll get that shiny new bike – and keep it.

Next up: Forget calorie and carbon reduction: here’s the real reason we ride

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