Is Bike Parking the Right Choice for Your Business?

Bicycling provides an efficient means for melding an exercise regime into your daily commute. And cycling rates are growing across North America and, for many commuters, this includes not only biking to work, but also to the store, restaurant, or public house.

Forward-thinking businesses realize that providing secure bicycle storage is a great way to not only build their customer base but also to increase employee satisfaction. Many business owners and employers will attest to the mantra that states “if they can park it they will come.”

For most businesses, providing secure bike parking considerably expands the range of neighborhood visitors. This new demographic of customers does not buy as much as drivers during a trip, but they more than make up for that by coming in more often.

But, without bike racks or bicycle bollards, most businesses get only a trickle of that potential new business; secure bike racks are the top priority for bicycle riders in choosing a destination.

Greater concern for personal health, increased awareness of the environmental benefits of cycling, and rising gas prices have also “driven” people to begin taking up cycling as a means of getting to work. Studies have shown that employees who bike to work are generally healthier, more productive, and take fewer sick days, so it is in an employer’s best interest to seek out ways to facilitate this. Providing secure storage options can help business owners make the bike-to-work experience easier for employees.

Promoting bicycle use provides a wide array of benefits to businesses, including a potentially larger customer base and a happier workforce, but before planning an installation, there are questions that should be asked to determine feasibility.

  1. Is your customer base located within cycling distance and do your employees live close enough to cycle to work?
    Many bicycle riders are happy to pedal up to three to five miles each way but less will cycle if the distance is further. If your company is close to a transit station, it will allow customers and employees who live further away to bike to the station as part of their commutes.
  2. Are your employees and customers from a physically-fit and active demographic?
    Although the addition of secure bike parking does encourage healthy lifestyle choices, those who cycle are generally (or at least trying to become) more physically fit. Ensure that your customers and employees would be willing to take up a healthy lifestyle choice like cycling. Unused bike storage solutions provide no health benefits and they do not increase your bottom-line.
  3. Is your company atmosphere supportive of innovative ideas and programs?
    Cycling rates have only begun to increase in the last 20 years. Not all employees and customers are receptive to it yet. Less receptive groups may see the changes that cycling brings as disruptive.
  4. Does your city’s infrastructure support bicycling as a transportation choice?
    Are bike lanes or bike trails available? Does your city offer bike parking at transit stations or subways? Lack of bike-friendly resources may make it difficult for cyclists to get to your business (alternatively, traffic or congestion around your city may make cycling a more adequate choice).
  5. Does your workplace have limited or restricted vehicle parking?
    Installing bike racks, bike bollards or bike lockers in areas with limited vehicle parking is another way to draw in customers that potentially stay away due to lack of parking. In these instances, cycling may provide an increased level of convenience for some customers.
  6. Does your city offer programs to encourage the installation of bike-parking systems?
    Several cities have programs in which they will provide bike racks or bike-parking stands at no charge to companies that meet certain criteria. If a tight budget is the only thing preventing your business from catering to this growing customer base seek out programs which may help to offset the cost.
  7. Is there adequate space to install bike parking at your site?
    Most manufacturer’s make their product specifications available online. Ensure that there is enough space not only to install the bike stands or bike lockers but also that there is enough space to freely steer bicycles in the area surrounding them. Also, bicycle-parking codes generally recommend bike racks to be installed within 20 to 30 feet of the business entrance.
  8. Do you have people to plan and execute the bike-parking project?
    For a bike parking project to be effective, adequate planning is necessary and this should be performed by people who know your business. If possible, employees can be used to survey and identify the number of people interested in cycling to your business and how much it will be supported. They may also be able to provide suggestions on where to install bike-parking units.

If your answer to all of the above questions was “yes,” a bike-storage system from may be the solution!

This article was originally published by Reliance Foundry Co. Ltd.

Photos by Richard Masoner and Reliance Foundry Co. Ltd.

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