IMAGE CREDIT: THE IMPRESSION THAT I GET / CC 2.0 LICENSE
Here in Portland, bike corrals are a big deal. These on-street rack clusters have been popping up in front of commercial and public venues since 2001, and the city currently boasts over 130 of them – more than any other city in North America, and enough to hold over 2000 bikes. You’ve probably heard about their advantages already: 10 times the vehicle density of car parking, better businesses visibility, improved pedestrian safety (especially when installed near intersections), not to mention the fact that bike-bound customers tend to visit more often and spend more.
The way these corrals get designed and installed has changed a lot over the years, though, and their standardized form gives some great pointers for anyone trying to design a public bike parking area. Take a look at the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s official design drawing, and a few things immediately jump out.
For one thing, every rack has breathing room: 28 inches between racks, and two feet from the curb. Years of trial and error have shown this to be the sweet spot, maximizing parking density while still letting riders fit a bike on both sides of each rack. And unlike those first corrals in front of PGE (now Providence) Park, which placed racks perpendicular to the curb, current corrals angle them in about 30 degrees. This keeps bikes from intruding too much on the active roadway--especially important when you’re parking a longtail with an extended wheelbase.
The other big advancement is in how corrals get protected and accessed. Other early examples, like the corral in front of Stumptown Coffee on SE Belmont St, are completely surrounded by raised curbs and reflective posts, which do a great job of keeping cars out, but also make it tough to roll a heavily loaded bike in. Current designs put a raised parking block at either end, but leave the long, street-facing side open, marked off with a bold reflective stripe. Combined with bike-stenciled access spaces at either end, this creates a sort of miniature bike parking lot with easy roll-in and roll-out.
The bad news, if you’re a street-facing business in Portland, is that these corrals are so popular that there’s a year-long waiting list to get one installed. The good news for everyone else, though, is that these principles work just about anywhere else, and the math is the same: a 29’ corral holds 12 bikes, versus just a single car when parallel parked.
For more information, check out Huntco’s Bike Corral product page.