Parking Upgrades Promote Active Transportation

An Example of What Can be Achieved with a Limited Budget, as experienced by one of our members.

At a downtown office building, nearly forty years old, the building owner was planning to renovate the underground parkade. Here, an informal bike parking setup had been in place for many years to accommodate a small number of bike commuters. Buildings of this age didn’t consider any significant bike amenities at the time of construction, especially compared to modern building requirements. With the renovation planning started, a group of riders approached the building manager to explore the feasibility of improving the bike parking facility. This was timely with the increasing popularity of bike commuting and the improved and growing cycling infrastructure downtown. The building owner was receptive to the ideas.

The discussion around bike parking improvements began with pointing out the main deficiencies with the current parking setup relative to the current city bylaws and other modern guidelines. These deficiencies included:

A simple solution to necessary maintenance
  • Current racks were not fit for purpose
  • Do not secure and support frame AND both wheels
  • Not attached to the floor
  • Insufficient clearance around racks, vehicles park in front of racks.
    • Rear stalls are especially difficult to access when racks are full.
  • Not enough bike stalls
    • Should be at least 50 for the building size
  • No bike maintenance area
    • There should be an area and stand for simple maintenance
  • Parking on 2nd level and lower.
    • Should be at grade or on 1st level below grade
Pick your rack carefully as they may damage some bikes

Other issues included:

  • Poorly designed racks with potential to damage bikes
    • Interfere with disc brake rotors
  • Very limited ability to accommodate fat bikes, trikes, and other types of mobility devices
  • Poor lighting
  • Poor overhead clearance
    • crowded with piping, electrical and hanging bicycle locks
  • Susceptible to conflicts with vehicles
    • Vehicles making contact with (and potentially damaging) bikes while parking
    • Vehicles parked in front of bike racks, creating egress, safety and potential damage to bicycles and vehicles.
Flexibility to accommodate other active mobility modes (scooters, etc.)

Other identified additional improvement opportunities:

  • Bike washing facility
    • Would significantly help reduce damage to bikes due to grit and road salt corrosion in winter.
    • Corrosion is accelerated by snow/ice melting in heated parking garage.
  • Basic set of tools and full-size pump.
    • It is not uncommon to need to attend to mechanical issues experienced during the morning commute in order to ensure a safe ride home.
A simple lock holder solution

With the above issues and opportunities in mind, there were several discussions with the building management staff to see what could be incorporated into the garage renovation plans. With the generous allocation of five full vehicle parking stalls, which will park 50 bikes , plans were drawn up for a new dedicated bike parking area which included almost all of the bike parking improvements. In order to minimize costs, it was decided to reuse the existing bike racks – the money saved on new racks was put towards a bike repair stand with tools, a floor pump, and wash station.  In the end, they ended up with a very functional parking facility which comfortably accommodates over 50 bikes and other active mobility device. Additionally, wall bars were installed to provide lock storage.

After the renovation, cycling parking and use significantly grew in the building

This is a great example of: “If you build it, they will come” – summer ridership has now grown to significant numbers.  If you find your current bike parking facilities lacking (or absent), we encourage you to reach out to the building owner/manager – you may be surprised at their willingness to help, especially if other maintenance or renovation work is due to be done. Remember: “The squeaky wheel gets the oil”.

If you feel your parking area needs these renovations, we suggest you speak to other riders using the facility and approach the building manager as a group. Bike Calgary would be more than willing to support with ideas and solutions from experiences such as this.

Want to write an article like this?

Contacts us as connect@bikecalgary.org to share your stories, including infrastructure, pathway, parking and all things cycling!


Here are some more good and bad examples:

Washing facilities are ideal for winter ride cleaning
Racks behind parking stalls can cause damage and are difficult to access
Keep cars and bike rack separated
Racks need to accommodate different bike types and avoid parking stalls
Poor example of space allocation – crowded parking in a low head-height area

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