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This page references frequently asked questions and best practices.

There are some links below to email threads on our email list web interface. These threads are open to non-members for now.


Bicycle Parking Impound Programs

This information gathered from this email thread on bicycle parking impound programs and off-list responses.

See this spreadsheet for 15+ universities' responses to the following questions:

  • Does your institution periodically cut all bicycles parked on campus? When?
  • Does your institution have dedicated bicycle parking impound staff? Who is responsible?
  • Do you feel that your institution adequately keeps bicycle parking facilities clean of abandoned bicycles? Comment.

Here's an example ordinance (section 33.06) from Mich. State Univ. which includes impounding of bicycles. Thanks to having an impoundment policy MSU is able to keep the bike racks from filling up with abandoned bikes as well as support the rental bike program of MSU Bikes by providing access to those bikes for use in their program.

Here's another thread on Bike Parking Violations.

Bike "Booting"

See email thread on bike "booting" (also known as "wheel clamping", for cracking down on unauthorized or illegal bike parking).

Bike Racks & Parking Facilities

Photo galleries of bike parking facilities

  • Bicycle parking by Luton: Bicycle parking is the low hanging fruit of bicycle facilities. Designing good facilities requires good technology, good site planning and creative approaches to other destination facilities. More at: www.capitalbikeandwalk.org
  • Bicycle parking shelters by Luton: For larger campuses with massive bike populations and bad weather covered & securable bike parking facilities are rising in demand.

Planning for Bike Parking Capacity - New Buildings

See email thread on planning for bicycle parking capacity and here too (1/2014 thread).

Pros & Cons of Different Bike programs

There are a number of types of bike programs that have been tried and failed or are being used with good success. Careful consideration of your campus situation, student population, proximity of local bike shops and their level of interest in reaching out to the campus community (i.e. lower-end bike market according to many private bike shops) will help you decide what type of program is best.  This page of general info. about a variety of types of bike programs [1] and this page of case studies of the different "community" bike programs is another good reference: [2]

Bike Sharing

This term is currently used to refer to many different types of bike programs. Originally it was used to refer to a program or system that distributed bikes of the same color around a given area/ community without locks (generally) and people were expected to use them as they need them and leave them within the community on the honor system.  In an ideal world this would be a very cool way to go; however, virtually every program like this has not been sustainable. Bikes ended up getting stolen, vandalized or just abused. This web page [3] gives the history about Portland’s Yellow Bike Project, one of the first bike sharing programs in the USA.  However, Austin’s Yellow Bike Project has been operating a yellow bike project successfully since 1997. Here’s a news article that reports on the rebirth of the bike share in Austin and also includes some info. on others that have succeeded or failed.

Since those early days of 'bike sharing' many other models have been developed with varying degrees of success. Currently some active university programs include

Here are some additional resources for you to peruse on the topic:

Electronic Bike Sharing

These systems feature a relatively large-scale installation of permanently installed electronically controlled racks where specially designed bikes are checked in and out using a credit card or a membership card. The Paris Velib system made the biggest news with over 20,000 bikes available around Paris but has since fallen on some hard times (see news article) due to rampant theft, vandalism, abuse. Washington DC’s SmartBike DC is the first installation in the USA by Clear Channel. Bixi is another one in Montreal, Canada, that’s using different bikes and racks. The Brandenburger Foundation works to bring the Bixi system to the USA. The Collegiate Bicycle Company has test installations of its Ecotrip Automated Bike Share in select markets.

Bike Collectives/ Co-ops

These programs share some of the following traits (according to the Bike Collective Network):

  • Non-profit bicycle organizations
  • Bike shops that are accessible to people without money
  • Shops that have an educational focus, teaching others how to fix bikes
  • Shops that are volunteer run
  • Organizations that ship bikes to communities suffering from first world colonialism & its effects
  • Shops that provide free or low-cost services to the community
  • Organizations that recycle bicycles and parts

Bike Libraries

Good for small-scale programs, these programs treat their bikes much like books in a library. The Arcata Bike Library is probably the oldest in operation. These appear to be similar (or morphing) in concept to the next type of program.

Bike Rentals

This type of program is well-tested by the likes of UC – Davis’ Bike Barn and MSU Bikes. Bikes are simply rented out to an individual after they fill out a rental agreement and pay a deposit for a variety of durations from an hour to a year. Maintenance of the bikes during the rental period is typically included at no charge which keeps the customers coming back improving the return rate/ sustainability. Locks and helmets are also typically given or offered to customers along with other accessories.

See here for University at Colorado, Boulder's "Buff Bikes" rentals.

Bike Promise

This type of system is a relative newcomer. Incoming freshmen are either given a new bike at no charge or at a reduced price if they promise to not bring a car to campus. -http://www.ripon.edu/velorution/index.html Ripon College Velorution] program is likely the first of its kind and is now into the 2nd year. 

Town-Gown Contract

Some university's have opted to work with a local bike shop/ vendor to run their on-campus bike program. Stanford University's Campus Bike Shop has been operating on campus as a vendor for over 70 years! Emory University's Bike Emory is another good example of a town-gown type on-campus bike program.

Ways to Get Bikes

One of the most reliable ways to gain access to a good supply of bikes and to garner support for a bike program's environmental benefits/ sustainability contributions to your campus and community is to partner with your police department. Ask them to allow you to pick out bikes for your program from the impounded bikes that most every police dept. accumulates over time. Here's an example ordinance (section 33.06) from Mich. State Univ. which includes impounding of bicycles. Depending on where you're located many of these bikes will require a lot of work to make safe and ridable, but it's a great source to start with. Generally you'll be replacing a lot of chains and freewheels/cassettes as a result of rusting over the winter months; these parts aren't that expensive nor difficult to replace.

Another great source are the larger apartment complexes located near most every campus, Greek houses, co-ops, etc. Most of these end up with bikes left over at the end of each semester that they need to get rid of; you can help them avoid the high cost of disposing of these bikes. Most college towns also have associations of land-lords which publish monthly newsletters or meet regularly; let them know you're looking for bikes too.

Finally, appeal to your local community for private bike donations. These are generally the nicest bikes you'll get. These people will generally also want some donation paperwork to be able to write off their donation on their taxes. Put out the word in your local papers, faculty/ staff newsletters, retired faculty newsletters, local bike club newsletters, etc.

Departmental Bike Programs

See email threads on email thread on departmental bike programs and another thread here

Use of sharrow markings on campuses

See email thread on sharrow use

Bike-friendly LEED certification credits

See email thread on bike-friendly LEED certification credits

Bicycle counting related resources (sample surveys, reports, etc.)

See email thread on Bicycle utilization studies to estimate & track trends on campus and another thread here.

Bicycle Planning Consultants

See email thread on recommendations for bicycle planning consultants

Bicycle Repair Resources (for shop use)

See email thread on helpful documents for front-room estimating and performing a Basic Mechanical Inspection.

Federal Bike Commuter Benefits

See email thread on Federal Bike Commuter Benefits.

Bike Locks

See email thread on bike locks and securing bikes.

Public Repair Stands

See email thread on public repair stands.

Bicycle Repair / Safety Classes

See email thread on bicycle repair / safety classes. and here for continued discussion w/ links to many current online programs.

Bait-Bike Anti-theft Programs

See email thread on existing programs (2/2013) Newer discussion (2/2014) of [GPS devices for anti-theft efforts https://lists.wisc.edu/read/messages?id=32240952 here].

Mobile Bike Repair Setup Examples

See this thread related to Mobile Bike Repair Setup Examples.

Bike-related Ordinances

Examples (these are Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Universities):

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