More and better bike parking will help secure the future of cycling

As Active School Travel Peterborough works with schools to improve bike parking, GreenUP provides tips on locking your bike

Many schools in Peterborough have front-wheel slot-style racks that are known to cause bike damage and are difficult to lock properly to. A bike rack should provide two points of contact for stability and proper locking. Ring-style bike racks allow two points of contact to properly lock a bike and allow for increased capacity. (Photo courtesy of GreenUP)
Many schools in Peterborough have front-wheel slot-style racks that are known to cause bike damage and are difficult to lock properly to. A bike rack should provide two points of contact for stability and proper locking. Ring-style bike racks allow two points of contact to properly lock a bike and allow for increased capacity. (Photo courtesy of GreenUP)

According to a 2012 poll from the Share the Road Cycling Coalition, 78 per cent of Ontarians believe more people would cycle if there was more and better cycling infrastructure. This “better cycling infrastructure” includes end-of-trip infrastructure — such as ample, high quality, and convenient parking spots where you can lock your bike.

At Active School Travel Peterborough (AST Ptbo), we encourage students who are able to bike to and from school because it is healthy, environmentally friendly, and a fun and efficient way to travel. We educate students, helping them develop cycling skills and learn the rules of the road. We also recommend that cycling be included in the design of road infrastructure.

Better end-of-trip infrastructure at schools is key to our goals. Regardless of a student’s desire to cycle to school, they won’t feel comfortable biking if they don’t have a safe and convenient place to lock their bikes.

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AST Ptbo has worked with various partnering schools to identify a lack of quality bike parking as a barrier to cycling. Students, parents, and guardians liked the idea of cycling to school, but were not confident in the security or convenience of bike parking. Addressing this barrier by providing ample quality parking infrastructure will support those who would like to cycle and increase the number of students who benefit from active school travel.

Bike parking is about both quantity and quality. Most schools have a bike rack, but often the quality is questionable and there are not enough parking spaces. At a recent secondary school Bike To School Day event, students mentioned that the existing bike rack is usually full. One student commented that they have to arrive extra early just to get a spot on the rack.

Many schools have front-wheel slot-style racks that are known to cause bike damage and are difficult to lock properly to. A bike rack should provide two points of contact for stability and proper locking. Such bike parking should ideally be sheltered from rain and snow, secure, and highly visible.

The Active School Travel Peterborough team likes to say that if you add racks, the bikes will fill them. Ideally, bike racks should be sheltered from rain and snow and located near pedestrian traffic areas. (Photo: Leif Einarson)
The Active School Travel Peterborough team likes to say that if you add racks, the bikes will fill them. Ideally, bike racks should be sheltered from rain and snow and located near pedestrian traffic areas. (Photo: Leif Einarson)

Thanks to our partners the City and County of Peterborough, AST Ptbo is providing a new bike rack to participating secondary schools. The ring-style racks will provide quality parking and increase the capacity.

School travel planning engagement also recognizes that scooter users have similar end-of-trip infrastructure barriers. AST Ptbo, with funding from an Ontario Active School Travel grant, is taking action to supply scooter parking racks to participating school travel planning schools. AST Ptbo hopes that this small increase in end-of-trip infrastructure will allow for more cyclists and scooterers to enjoy the benefits of active school travel.

AST Ptbo is working with schools to properly locate and install their bike racks to maximize use and security. We recommend locating racks near pedestrian traffic areas, where users can easily access the rack. Pedestrian traffic will add an additional element of security, as constant surveillance can deter theft.

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Getting your bike stolen sucks. Bikes are expensive, and we often rely on bikes as a primary travel mode. We are also often emotionally attached to our bikes — it can be deeply upsetting to lose a bike.

Even with sufficient end-of-trip infrastructure, properly locking a bike is important. Many bikes are inefficiently locked and therefore at greater risk of being stolen.

How should you lock your bike to better prevent theft? Here are three steps.

This bike may seem like it is locked, but look closely: the lock does not actually go through the frame. For the best security, a lock should secure the frame as well as both of the wheels.  (Photo courtesy of GreenUP)
This bike may seem like it is locked, but look closely: the lock does not actually go through the frame. For the best security, a lock should secure the frame as well as both of the wheels. (Photo courtesy of GreenUP)

First, we recommend investing in a quality bike lock. While all locks can be defeated with the right tool, some are a lot harder to cut and require extreme tools. Check out bicycling.com or thebestbikelock.com for lock critiques and to find a quality lock that suits your needs.

Second, make sure your lock actually secures your bike. You want your lock to go through your frame and both wheels. Using a longer cable with a u-lock might be needed to reach the frame and both wheels. This is another reason why having two points of contact on a bike rack is ideal.

Keep in mind that a wheel can be removed relatively easily, especially if it has a quick release lever. We don’t want thieves to walk away with any part of your bike. The frame itself is the most important part of your bike, so make sure your lock goes through your frame.

VIDEO: How to lock your bike. The RIGHT way!

Third, test your locking technique. Lock up your bike and then challenge a friend to see if you have properly secured it. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we missed the frame.

The City of Peterborough is working with a program called 529 Garage to prevent theft and aid in bike recovery. They recommend registering your bike to become part of a social network keeping an eye out for each other’s bikes.

Here’s how 529 Garage works: you register your bike and receive a tamper-resistant shield (sticker) that acts as a deterrent to would-be thieves and aids in easier recovery if your bike is found. If your bike is stolen, there is an alert to let other bike owners know so they can keep an eye out for your bike.

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Peterborough residents can register for 529 Garage at project529.com/garage/organizations/cityofpeterborough/landing.

Ideally, families would have access to the infrastructure to confidently cycle to school and throughout their community. Parents and guardians would drop their child off at school and continue on to work or other destinations knowing that both their child’s bike and their own bike are secure.

Ample, quality, accessible end-of-trip bike infrastructure would help eliminate barriers, allowing families to enjoy the benefits of active transportation.