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Ask BikePortland: What’s the usage etiquette and capacity for a staple rack?

Posted by on August 17th, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Not recommended unless
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(Photo © J. Maus)

This week’s Ask BikePortland question comes from Daniel C. He had a disagreement with someone over how many bikes can fit on one of PBOT’s standard staple racks. Daniel also wants to know if there are manners to keep in mind when sharing a staple with someone…

“Following an odd conversation/almost-altercation I had yesterday, I am led to wonder whether his claim that the bike staple can fit 4 bikes has more merit than I’m giving it credit for.

I mean, I see how it can work physically. It just seems like there’s a lot of potential for screwing someone else’s bike, and we’ve built and continue to build a lot more staples to avoid precisely this situation, no? Or should everyone just park their bikes in a way that promotes the 4-bikes-to-a-staple, in the interest of increasing capacity for all?

To your knowledge, what is the official design capacity of the staple? What is correct etiquette when wanting to park at the same staple where someone is currently parking? “

I like your open-mindedness and altruism on this issue Daniel, but the official design capacity of a staple rack is two bikes. There’s really no debating it. But that being said, in a pinch I’ve doubled-up on one side of the staple and gotten three of them on one — so I guess if you doubled up on both sides you’d get four. But, as you point out, four bikes on one staple is just asking for trouble.

The proper way to use a staple is to lay your bike parallel to the top bar, length-wise. I will, on occasion, see people who place their bike perpendicular to the staple, but that’s a bike parking faux-pas. However, sometimes the staples are installed so poorly that you are left with few options. For instance, in front of my building, someone installed them in a straight line with just a few feet between each one. This makes it impossible to use all of them without overlapping. Another common installation error is putting the staple too close to a wall, which leaves only one side available for a bike.

As for etiquette when using a staple rack that already has one bike locked to it, I’d just say to be considerate and careful. Try to put your handlebars on the opposite side of theirs to have a lower chance of tangling.

Does anyone have more to add about staple rack capacity, usage, and etiquette?

— Got a burning bike question? Drop me a line and I might answer it next week. Browse past Ask BikePortland columns here.

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • trail abuser August 17, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Depends on the width of the sidewalk and whether or not it gets in the way of pedestrians. Placing the bikes perpendicular to the top of the rack means 4 stranger bikes can park. Multiple friends parking/sharing locks is a different matter. Parallel parking is the norm due to space constraints.

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  • Carye Bye August 17, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    For bike staples, I usually park my bike at one end only, instead of laying it against both poles to fit two bikes only. It’s easier for me to lock my bike if there isn’t another bike taking both sides of the staple, even if only locked to one pole. Also with bikes parked so they only touch one side, you can fit more bikes on, but this only works if the staples are parallel to the street and spaced enough a part. At the Downtown Library or in street biking corrals for example, you can only really get two per single staples because the staples are perpendicular.

    There’s more and more bikes out there, especially if you go out to events like Last Thursday where it’s hard to find bike parking, so I’m for locking my bike up in such a way that easy for me, but also allows more users to one staple.

    I agree that bikes shouldn’t be parked so they are sticking out into the side walk, bikes should be parallel to the staple and not sticking out into the pedestrian way on the sidewalk.

    I don’t know if I follow any other real etiquette, but it’s not a bad idea to be mindful of street parking, and whether you bike might be in the way of someone’s car door/etc. Might be best to park on the sidewalk side of the staple if possible and sidewalk is wide enough.

    Lately twice this week I’ve come across stores/businesses that have only bicycle wheel parking — I’m pretty much forced to attached my bike to any sign or a tree in a place they probably don’t want my bike, but those kind of racks are worthless.

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  • Jessica Roberts August 17, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Well, if you’re in the position of having to try to cram 4 bikes on one staple, obviously there’s not enough bike parking to meet demand. Call 503-823-CYCLx3 to request more, and talk to or email the business owner to let them know that their customers are having a hard time finding adequate parking.

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  • spare_wheel August 17, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    As long as you don’t impede pedestrians or prevent easy removal of other bikes IMO anything goes.

    A free bicycle rack can be installed on the sidewalk in front of your business as long as the location meets the minimum requirements. Call 503-823-CYCL (823-2925) and press “3” to request a rack.

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  • Daniel C August 17, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Actually, the irony of the situation was that this was right next to Big Pink downtown, where there are about a hundred other bike racks within a block. However, it’s always good to know the resources that are out there.

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  • patrickz August 17, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Whenever possible (enough room for peds. and without protruding into the street), I lock my bike at an angle. Otherwise, parallel.

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  • trail abuser August 17, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Zoobomb occupied staple racks are a work of art. Literally.

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  • Esther August 17, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    I second what Carye said about 1. keeping the pedestrian rights of way clear (especially being mindful to leave enough width for people using wheelchair, mobility scooters, pushing strollers etc.) and there being a lack of parking.
    There are plenty of times (like special events) where otherwise adequate parking because inadequate. Or there are places that are not technically on city streets- PSU is a good example where they are struggling to meet demand in popular places like around Neuberger Hall.

    It is super, super easy to lock your bike to the front or rear of the staple rack at the seat stays or headtube, to allow for 2 to park per side, so if it looks like it’s crowded that’s what I do– instead of locking the top tube to the center of the rack. I also have been known to VERY CAREFULLY move other bikes (being mindful of paint, etc.) that are locked by their top tube to make room on one side if the racks nearby are full.

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  • peejay August 17, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Some consideration should be made if the bikes you want to share with are obvious beaters or in absolute mint condition. Do whatever you can to avoid nicking and scratching, but expect your bike to be scratched, no matter where you park it in public.

    Also, +1 to what Carye said. I lock my rear rim through the triangle to the upright of a staple so that someone can do the same 4x on that staple without any interference.

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  • Michael M. August 17, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Ha, the real trick is to manage to hog a whole staple just for your own bike and simultaneously obstruct as much pedestrian space as possible. There are special underground classes in Williamsburg that teach you all the requisite techniques, for which scholarships are available if you know the right people (or have the right tattoos).

    Sheesh, Portlanders are just too polite!

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  • Vinny August 17, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Almost everyone at my office building parks perpendicular to the staple racks. On nice days there are often three or four bikes per rack. Last week I counted 24 bikes on 7 staple racks. Sometimes the bikes in the middle can only lock to the top tube or they lift the back to lock the rear wheel + seat stay to the top of the staple rack. Luckily, the sidewalk is very wide leaving plenty of space for pedestrians.

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  • Todd August 17, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Agree with Carye, i lean my rear triangle on one vertical support with a pedal moved to the far back to stabilize the bike, so in theory 4 bikes can easily be locked to it.

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  • Daniel C August 17, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Ok, so as I said in my original question, I get that this 4-bike thing is possible, and often not even that hard. But I have the following reservations:

    1- I know *you’re* very careful with other people’s bikes, but do you really think everyone is such a perfect citizen, every time? That’s right, I’m looking at *you*.

    2- The methods proposed in the last couple comments make sense and involve less potential for bike damage, but go right back to the issue of sidewalk and right-of-way obstruction. By the time you’ve locked 4 bikes in this way (or even 2 at opposite ends), there are now something like 12-15 feet of obstructed space, rather than the 5-6 feet blocked by a staple with two bikes locked parallel.

    3-Perpendicular parking has a different space issue, since it takes up width. Works fine (assuming your bike frame is narrow enough for top-tube locking) on the transit mall with 15-foot sidewalks, but how about anywhere else?

    4- Sure, bike paint gets scratched and nicked all the time and people should expect it, but doing this wrong could cause damage to actual moving parts (I’m thinking derailleurs especially, maybe back gears…). That’s a safety risk, no?

    Thanks for there interest y’all!

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  • Jason August 17, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    3 or 4 bikes per rack is possible on the vast majority of racks in Portland. I lock up front wheel + downtube with the bike facing away from the rack whenever there is limited or crowded parking.

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  • jwwz August 17, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Four back wheels so a u-lock can go through the rear wheel and the frame and maybe two more the way they are supposed to be placed in there.

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  • poncho August 17, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    i would think it would depend on how crowded it is. if every possible rack and pole around had multiple bikes locked to it, it should be expected that the racks will get rather “cozy”.

    its kind of like on transit, if its empty onboard you dont go stand 6 inches away from someone else but if its jammed like sardines onboard its entirely acceptable to be that close to someone else.

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  • Bjorn August 17, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Here is some etiquette for the dude riding the cruiser with a big front metal basket who sliced my seat apart with his basket last year when we were parked 2 on a rack down by the ash street. I saw you do it from inside but didn’t realize how much damage you did til I went to leave. If you destroy someone’s bike seat while unlocking your bike maybe you should leave a note/offer to pay for the damage.

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  • Todd Boulanger August 17, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    The same goes for the staple racks in Vancouver (WA) – 2 bikes.

    Now…if you are traveling to Seattle…their staple style racks are longer and are designed to accommodate about 4 bikes.

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  • jered August 17, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    If I’m out with someone else we’ll put both bikes on one side of a staple facing opposite ways, either lock both through to the staple or lock one bike to the staple and one bike to bike. This way I know whos bike is rubbing up on mine and we leave space for others.

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  • matthew vilhauer August 17, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    carye, esther & todd evidently have firgured it out. even small staple racks can handle 4 bikes easily if you lock one end of your bike to one end and on one side of a rack.

    trail abuser- if you lock your bike perpendicular to the rack you obviouly need to stay in the woods and out of the city. these decisions should be intuitive. do you yield to uphill traffic out on the trail?

    as pointed out previously the curb side of the rack also has the added risk for car damage. i know several folks that have had rims, pedals and cranksets destroyed when their bike was locked on the curb side of a staple rack. no note left or anything…. fair to say these were hit and run accidents?

    yes the racks were designed to hold only two bikes but four are easily do-able. i really am reluctant to move someone’s bike to fit mine in (as i don’t want someone to move mine) but do so with the care i would give my own bike… and i care for my bike. if you are aware of others and care for your bike simply lock one end to the staple rack so three other folks can do the same.

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  • Duncan August 17, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    I am cool with whatever unless you lock my bike to the rack while locking your bike to the rack….

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  • trail abuser August 17, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    matthew vilhauer – how do you do it with a pillar in the way, as in the above photo? There’s more than one way to lock 4 or more bikes to a single bike staple depending on surrounding space and staple orientation. Perpendicular parking uses the least square footage and looks cleaner but requires more effort to align bikes inside the staple. I’m guessing you unnecessarily hog up neighboring spaces in wave racks too.

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  • David August 17, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    re: comment #16:

    “if you are traveling to Seattle…their staple style racks are longer and are designed to accommodate about 4 bikes”

    i have to disagree with this statement. sure, in the designer’s head the racks up here in seattle comfortably accommodate 4 bicycles, because when they draw it out on paper the bikes are perfectly spaced and never encroach on one another. but in practice that’s just not how it plays out. as soon as you start injecting human beings into the equation, it starts mattering very little how the racks were designed to be used. with four bikes on the seattle racks, it’s a virtual lock that one or more bikes will be encroaching (i.e. leaning against, trapping a wheel, handlebars draped over adjacent frame, etc.) on the other bikes, making it difficult to park and/or remove a bicycle from the rack at the designed capacity.

    i think an important question is, why is this (poor) quality of bike parking tolerated and accepted when it comes to bikes, but not for cars? designers and engineers know very well what works and what doesn’t when it comes to bike parking. there are so many examples of best practices in terms of design, dimensions, and spacing that there’s really no excuse for designing bike parking that encourages people to damage their bikes (and others) and/or makes it difficult to achieve a rack’s rated capacity.

    comfortable and easy to use bicycle parking should be the status quo, not something we accept as an unachievable pipe dream.

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  • K'Tesh August 17, 2010 at 6:03 pm
  • El Biciclero August 17, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    “Sure, bike paint gets scratched and nicked all the time and people should expect it…” –Daniel C

    Why should we expect it? Does anyone park their car expecting it to automatically be damaged as part of the process?

    “…why is this (poor) quality of…parking tolerated and accepted when it comes to bikes, but not for cars?” –David

    Hear, hear. This has been my question for a long time. Answer? Because bikes are 2nd-class vehicles, and when it comes to transportation infrastructure equity–including enforcement of laws–people on bikes are 2nd-class citizens. Want to be treated fairly? Drive a car.

    Sorry for the slightly off-topic rant.

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  • matthew vilhauer August 17, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    trail abuser-ahh yes. there are always exceptions and multiple ways to lock multiple bikes to a staple rack egh? with the staple rack in the pic so close to the post like in the pic in this article i still think parallel parking with one end of a bike would work. perpendicular parking w/locking bikes on either end and one (maybe two) bikes w/the front tire over the bar, locking the wheel & down tube to the bar may work. i hesitate to put my bike out in the sidewalk and simply will not lock my bike where it is near the curb. you’d be an idiot to do so. i’ll give you a bit more credit than that. even though i don’t know you. wave racks? basic intuition should still guide your decision. i do however reserve the right be be an ass once in awhile…. just saying….

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  • cyclist August 17, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    El Biciclero:

    Why should we expect it? Does anyone park their car expecting it to automatically be damaged as part of the process?

    I guess it depends on what you mean by damaged. I expect my bumpers to get scraped and probably a few door dings over the life of the vehicle. Bumpers are made for bumping right? I bike most days so the car stays in the driveway, but when I’m driving I’m not expecting people to treat my car with kid gloves or anything.

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  • beth h August 17, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    “I bike most days so the car stays in the driveway, but when I’m driving I’m not expecting people to treat my car with kid gloves or anything.”

    Then you are that rare bird who somehow has not been scarred by the rampant classism in our society.

    Most drivers will have a cow if you scratch their car, even accidentally; and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a Mercedes sedan or a VW beater.

    Most bicyclists, OTOH, either exoect to get a few scratches now and then; OR they have a dedicated city bike so the paint job on the high-zoot carbon bike stays immaculate.

    The more expensive something is, the more folks obsess about keeping it looking new. Hell, today’s car advertising often mentions how well a car will hold its VALUE [as in, before you sell it or trade it in] as part of the attraction. Unreal.

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  • William Bendsen August 18, 2010 at 12:05 am

    I wonder how saturated Portland’s bike-scene has to be, before you can use the kind of racks that Northern Americans lovingly refers to as “wheel-benders”.

    It seems to me, that there’s a natural progression that must be followed – separated bike-lanes before sharrows (so motorists can get comfortable with bikes and vice-versa), and likewise, staples (that are inefficient, but does not lend itself to easy theft) before racks (that use availible space much more efficiently, but lets people leave with your locked bike).

    When would YOU use a rack that holds the front wheel of the bike, while only locking with a rear wheel lock?

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  • Vance Longwell August 18, 2010 at 5:40 am

    “I will, on occasion, see people who place their bike perpendicular to the staple, but that’s a bike parking faux-pas.”

    This is the PROPER way to use this rack. One rack = two bikes. Placed on the ends of the rack, the two bikes never even have to touch. Placed parallel to it, and careless users will scratch finishes, dislodge control cables, dent tubing, and so on.

    These are also temporary parking, and not storage.

    Please remember that touching my property may be hazardous to your health.

    I remember when they put the very first one of those in, it was behind the OrBanco building on 6th by the old Shenanigans. They stood a meter-maid by it all day telling every one how to use it. For that first couple of months, the city was very good about citing people for being over time on the racks, and for parking wrong, i.e., for parking parallel to the rack and taking the WHOLE thing up!!

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  • Red Five August 18, 2010 at 6:35 am

    I hate having some beat up fixie next to my exotic road bike. Those hipsters have no respect for other people’s property anyway.

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  • Spiffy August 18, 2010 at 8:04 am

    when I first started using staple racks I parked perpendicular since it made the most sense to me to fit more bikes…

    but I’ve since encountered more racks that just don’t work that way because there’s not enough room… most sidewalks more inner to the city are small and there’s not enough room to have bikes sticking out…

    when it’s crowded and I’m biking with a friend we’ll lock together on the same side to conserve space… that also helps to ensure we both leave at the same time…

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  • are August 18, 2010 at 8:49 am

    re comment 29, the rack that holds only the wheel is meant to hold the back wheel, not the front. the problem is, as you note, theft, because you cannot get the lock inside the rear triangle. i will reluctantly use these only for extremely short-term parking (to the ATM and back), and only with a combination of lock and cable tying both wheels to the frame.

    the staple rack is designed to hold two bikes parallel to the crossbar, like it or not.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 18, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Hi Vance and everyone else,

    Thanks for the informational comments.

    I didn’t realize it was so common for people to try and only use 1/2 a side so as to leave more room for others. cool.

    and Vance, now I’m curious what the actual city-sanctioned method is… is it perpendicular or parallel?

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  • buglas August 18, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Jonathan and others, refer to the graphic in the link on comment #4.

    Meanwhile, take a look at the tulip as pointed out by David Hembrow some time back.

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  • eljefe August 18, 2010 at 9:23 am

    Lock your bike so it is stable! Don’t lock the top tube to the horizontal rack bar. Much preferable is to lock the down tube of your bike to the vertical rack bar. Spin the inside pedal all the way back to brace against the rack. Now you can use the smallest U-lock, which is more convenient and secure anyway, and you bike will not fall over when somebody bumps your handlebar or a light wind catches your trendy oversized custom front rack. Now the clutch part: tilt your bike at a slight angle of 20 degrees from parallel with the rack. Now somebody else can use the other vertical bar without touching your bike.
    I like other peoples methods that involve the seat stays or head tube, and I sometimes use them, but under no circumstances should you lean your bike completely parallel with rack and throw an oversize U-lock in the middle. Now you are in everyone’s way and your bike going to fall over onto a small animal.

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  • Duncan August 18, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Beth H
    I have to disagree. Last year I was in a fender bender with a truck on MLK (I was merging where the road construction was, the truck tried to block me, scraped my right quarter panel on my beloved (and now departed) 89 4runner- the car I have wanted since I was 19 and they were new… I looked at the damage and shrugged, as the mark could be buffed out. The other guy (who was from The Dalles) was furious, filed a claim against me for 3000 (saying the bumper he rammed my car with was in need of replacing.) talking with my insurance agent she asked if I wanted to file a counter claim… when I said “no, its just a little urban rubbing” whe totally got what I meant. If someone in the car industry gets it, it mus be a pretty common.

    I take the same view towards my bike.. I love my bike, but if there is a scratch on it… well thats what happens when you share a sqaure mile with 12000 people. I might grouse about a parking scar but not past my first beer.

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  • trail abuser August 18, 2010 at 10:00 am

    What you do is put the bike skyward on it’s back wheel. With the bike balanced upward on the rear wheel, slide the nose of the saddle under the crossbar and lock the rear triangle to it while the bike balances precariously in the air. Surrounding space constraints be damned. And people’s inattentive faces.

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  • beelnite August 18, 2010 at 10:16 am

    We should never have to “live with our bikes being scratched.” I think that’s the wrong mentality.

    If someone is sitting in a car and a person pulls up and just callously whacks the side door placing an obvious nick and dent – what do you think the person sitting there thinks about? Bodily harm most likely. That’s just not cool.

    Why should it be different for our beloved steeds?

    So no, don’t be callous – and don’t “expect” mistreatment just because your ride is a “lesser being” than an expensive car.

    Beater, vintage, dept. store, custom – it doesn’t matter – treat bikes with respect ALWAYS.

    Please avoid touching my bike with your person or your bike at all costs. If it isn’t possible please be extremely careful.

    You may turn off my lights if I’ve accidentally left them on.

    Just cuz it’s a way of life – it’s a way of thinking… it’s good for you and me.


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  • David August 18, 2010 at 10:23 am

    re: vance #30:

    “Placed on the ends of the rack, the two bikes never even have to touch. Placed parallel to it, and careless users will scratch finishes, dislodge control cables, dent tubing, and so on.”

    i disagree. placed perpendicular on the rack ends, the bicycle only has one point of contact with the rack, making it essentially a glorified post (i.e. less easy to balance your bicycle against, and therefore less easy to use. whatever gains you make in preventing damage to your bike from other peoples’ bikes are negated by the greater likelihood that your bike will rub against the post and similarly damage your paint job). it’s also less space efficient. two bikes parked perpendicular on either end of a staple have a footprint of approximately 6’x6′, or 36′ sq. (not accounting for aisle/access). two bicycles parked parallel have a footprint of approximately 6’x3′, or 18′ sq. that’s a pretty big difference, particularly when you’re integrating with pedestrian and furniture zones.

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  • craig August 18, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    “Strangers” notwithstanding…

    When my little family of seven locks up in front of Pizza Schmizza on NE Broadway, we put 6 bikes and one Burley trailer on the street side of the staple, spilling off the sidewalk and into the parking lane. One bike is u-locked to the staple and the others are “accessory-cabled” to that one through the frames and QR wheels. I’ll get a photo next time.

    We leave the other side of the staple for a “stranger” 🙂

    Etiquette-wise, it seems fair to me to encroach into the parking lane when the bike parking facility is inadequate to the bike volume.

    Security-wise, this solution leaves something to be desired. I use the heaviest Kryptonite cable, but still the only really safe bike is the one u-locked to the staple. But then most of my kids’ bikes can be immediately replaced from craigslist for about the cost of a Kryptonite u-lock.

    As they grow, and with them the quality/value of the bikes I provide, they’ll be carrying their own 5-pound u-locks, and independently practicing staple etiquette.

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  • Duncan August 18, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    beelinite- accidents happen. I am saying to relax a little and take it in stride. Bikes (and cars) used in urban environs will show wear- that includes scratches whether it be a 1200 dollar road bike or a brand new subaru.

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  • Jonah August 18, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    I’m not sure if this has been mentioned, but your bicycle is much less likely to fall/get damaged if you lock it up by the rear tire as opposed to at the front (It keeps the front wheel stationary). I’ve had to catch many-a-rear-locked-bike after accidentally bumping them with mine.

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  • craig August 19, 2010 at 8:25 am

    @13 Jonah: Judging from your trailing remarks, I think you mean much MORE likely to fall?

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  • Chris August 19, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Hmm… At all the MAX stations on the Westside, everyone locks up their bikes so that they are perpendicular to the racks.

    Most of us use a U-lock through the rear triangle and then use a cable that goes through the lock and around the front wheel.

    The only place I’ve seen bikes locked up parallel to the rack has been in downtown Portland. I just always thought riders figured it was the quickest way to lock them up.

    Locking up the bikes perpendicular, you could fit at least 4 bikes. Only two would be able to have the u-lock going through the rear triangle though, which is why I carry my cable.

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  • craig August 19, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Me being obtuse probably, but… Could someone draw me a picture of four bikes (strangers, I presume) locked perpendicular to a single staple?

    All I can conceive is a double-parking scenario in which the outside bike has trapped the bike nearest the staple.

    The slower among us need help sometimes.

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  • Alan August 19, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Could someone draw me a picture of four bikes locked perpendicular to a single staple?

    Think of the staple in plan view with one post on the left and one on the right with its top bar running horizontal, left-to-right. The first bike points up, 90-deg to the staple, with its rear wheel locked through the bike’s triangle to the staple’s left-hand post, on the outside of the staple. The next bike points down, 90-deg to the staple and 180-deg to the first bike, and has its rear wheel rolled under the staple’s top rail, locked through its triangle to the inside of the same left-hand post as the first bike. Rinse, lather, repeat for the two bikes on the post on the other end of the staple so that the bikes point up, down, up, down from left to right (in plan view!).

    Of course, as already mentioned, City of Portland plans on parallel parking, two bike per staple (page 266-27 Figure26-11).

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  • craig August 19, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    I can see it now! Thank you. And thank heaven for Sheldon Brown, seriously.

    This seems like it would work great, but only if the staples were arranged (1) parallel to each other and perpendicular to the road, and (2) sufficiently far apart to allow for bikes protruding four feet to either side of the staples–that’s a minimum of eight feet apart, unless they’re offset.

    I’ve never seen such an installation of staples. Is there one around here?

    Otherwise, if the staples are installed closer together (bike corrals) there’s not room for this parking strategy. Or if the staples are instead parallel to the curb, then bikes will either protrude too far out over the curb, or too far into the sidewalk.

    Am I [still] being obtuse? (a beer for you if you get the movie quote without Googling it)

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  • jim August 19, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    if someone had their bike laying against mine i’d be pissed off. I try to take care of my stuff and dont want mine to look like theirs

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  • craig August 20, 2010 at 8:59 am

    @49 jim:

    You should do what I do for my trailer queen of bike-scuplture, and carry a quilted shroud to protect it when parked. It’s custom made to fit over my bike, velvet on the inside for my bike’s plush comfort, and burlap sack cloth on the outside for that steal-me-last aesthetic.


    OK, that was just for a laugh. I have a couple bikes that I want nobody to rub against, and those I don’t publicly park.

    I elect to ride a less special bike when I plan to be parking it. Otherwise, I’ve become one with the idea that parked bikes rub each other.

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  • jim August 20, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Thanks Craig for the advice

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  • Paul Johnson August 20, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Given that they’re city racks, it wouldn’t surprise me if someone gets cited for double parking if they try to fit more than two bikes on a staple. Given the frequency of staples in downtown, you’re never far from another staple, just find a free one.

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  • Paul Johnson August 20, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    Vance: I don’t know where you ever got the idea that you’re supposed to park perpendicular in a staple. You’re supposed to park parallel to them, one on a side. PBOT’s website even shows these racks used properly.

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  • Paul Johnson August 20, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    @jim: Yeah, I agree with that sentiment, regarding double parking. Last time that happened to me, I was very tempted to sacrifice my lock to clamp the offending bike to the rack so they couldn’t un-park…

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  • Dan August 21, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Hey beth h,

    You think that valuing lasting value is “unreal” and “rampant classism”?

    Scratches and what not are not just aesthetic matters – a scratched carbon frame or fork can be a horribly catastrophic failure waiting to happen at speed – a dented steel or aluminum tube is structurally weakened – a slightly bent derailer hanger can require bike shop repair – a well tuned bicycle is a joy to ride, and once achieved is not so hard to maintain with reasonable care, but throw in some carelessness by some who… well, just doesn’t care, and…

    I like what somebody up there said about treating things as you would your own – unless you’re somebody who thinks it’s okay for people to knock your bike around. It’s just not cool to abuse someone else’s bike. It’s even less cool to berate them for caring.

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  • 180mm_dan August 23, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    I agree with Carye:

    Four per staple are easy to park if just the fork is placed in first half of staple. I’ve been doing that since, jeez, like 1985. I grew up in Eugene.

    Two per staple is rather wasteful if the staples are going to be long as they are. Make the horizontal length half as short and I’ll accept two bikes per staple.

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  • are August 23, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    re comment 56, locking the fork is pretty much an oxymoron. also leads to the bike falling over problem mentioned in connection with some other rack designs. i think carye was referring to locking the back wheel, inside the triangle.

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  • eli bishop September 4, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    this is a bit late, but i just ran across pbot’s official recommendation:

    park parallel:

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  • roger noehren September 5, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    I agree with eljefe (#36) that it’s best to park at about a 20 degree angle to the staples, but perhaps that’s because all my bikes have front baskets and I generally leave my bike buckets attached to the rear rack.
    I’m always amused to see how cyclists will cram multiple bikes onto any object capable of being locked to in the immediate vicinity of their venue, when there are often posts and even staples available across the street.

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