New York’s Bike Racks Set an Example for Other Cities to Follow

 Biking to work and for fun made easier

As more Americans hop out of their cars and onto their bicycles for the commute to work, it creates new challenges for cities, such as having enough spaces for commuters to park their bicycles. Through an innovative program that includes legislation, art, data and raw metal, New York City is setting an example for other cities with its efforts to install bike racks throughout its five boroughs.


Riding a bike to work has many benefits over commuting by automobile or public transportation: it’s energy efficient, it reduces harmful emissions, it’s less expensive and it helps improve the commuter’s physical fitness. A bicycle can even be faster than an automobile or public transportation when there’s heavy traffic. These benefits are clearly fueling its popularity. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, bicycling is the fastest-growing commuting mode in the United States. About 786,000 Americans rode their bicycles to work in 2012 on more days than they took other transportation, an increase of more than 60 percent since 2000.


To help sustain this trend and to encourage other commuters to bicycle to work, New York City is making sure that it has enough bike racks. In addition to installing its own bike racks throughout the five boroughs, the city established a code that requires parking garages and parking lots to provide bike racks or poles. A garage or parking lot with 100 to 200 parking spaces must provide at least one bike rack space for every 10 automobile parking spaces. Garages and parking lots with more than 200 spaces must provide 20 bike spots. The parking structure owners must also provide equipment, such as locks and chains, to secure bikes to the racks. As long as a garage or parking lot has room, it must allow a bicycle commuter to use its bike racks.


Property owners in New York City are also encouraged to provide bike racks on private/public property lines, provided that the racks meet NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) guidelines. The DOT must install the racks to ensure their safety.


To prove that bike racks don’t have to be boring, nine original and somewhat unusual bike racks installed in New York City provide a place to park bicycles and simultaneously serve as public art. Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne, a biking enthusiast, designed the unique bike racks that were manufactured by his gallery and installed as part of the city’s public art program.


Bicyclists can easily locate a bike rack thanks to the NYC DOT‘s map of all bike-parking racks in the five boroughs. The DOT also provides the raw data on bike rack locations for those who want to map them on their own or mash the data with other publicly-available data. Data on the locations of bike shelters and the designated bike routes throughout the city are also published by the DOT.

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Main photo:Image of David Byrne’s Bike Rack The Ladies’Mile

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