Family Bike Parking Problem #1: The Bike Pile
Does anyone else have a “bike pile” in the garage? My kids’ bikes, scooters, helmets, tricycles, and whatever else – jackets, nerf guns, jump ropes–always seem to end up in a giant heap, with the desired bicycle perpetually at the bottom of the pile. After months of digging and tripping over bicycles, my husband finally had enough.
We needed a better family bike parking setup. Most of the bike parking solutions we’ve seen have involved hanging bikes on various hooks and hangers. We didn’t want any vertical hanging options because we want our kids to be able to access and park their bikes without our help. And I don’t want to have to hang bikes up, or wrestle them down, every time a kid, or all five kids, want to ride. We needed a way to keep the bikes orderly and easily kid-accessible. And my husband wanted to keep costs low. Spending money on a fancy bike rack was not an option.
After a little consideration, my husband found a solution online. It’s a cheap, easy DIY bike rack that the kids can use without help, and it even includes scooter-parking. My husband made it all with scrap wood and someone’s free leftover paint. As a final touch, he added a few hooks for hanging up helmets. Finally, we have bike parking, instead of a bike pile!
Family Bike Parking Problem #2: No Garage
As we tackled our own bike-pile problem, I began to think more about family bike parking issues. We have a big family, and it just so happens that – for the first time in our lives – we also have a big garage. This makes parking our bikes at home feel easy, weather-proof, and secure. However, we haven’t ever had a garage prior to this. In the past decade, we’ve lived in six different places, and we’ve never had a garage before. In a few spots, I kept a personal bike in a spare room, or even a corner of the kitchen, and in a shed, in a rental unit shared laundry room, and on a covered front porch.
For a single person, it might not be a big deal to store a bike on an apartment wall, or in the living room. But the bike storage dilemma gets bigger if your family size grows (especially when living space doesn’t keep pace). For families living in an apartment, condo, or garage-free house, it’s a real issue to figure out how to store one or two adult bikes, plus two or three kid bikes, a bike trailer, a tag-along, scooters, or — good grief! — a cargo bike.
In fact, if we were still living in our previous rental (a two-bedroom duplex with an open parking lot and no garage) I don’t think I would own a bike today. I’m certain I would not have purchased a cargo bike, and I wouldn’t even have considered buying a family e-bike. For me to invest the money in a cargo bike, and then an e-cargo-bike, I needed to be able to sleep at night, knowing my investment was safe. I’d want the bike covered and secure, and easy to get in and out. To be clear: without bike parking, I wouldn’t be biking.
That realization has set me thinking. Is bike parking a limiting factor for families who might otherwise bike? What options exist for biking families without private garages? And is there something to be done about it? Can we add more bike parking in our city? Is it needed? If so, what should that bike parking look like? How can we better accommodate the unique bike parking needs of families (longer bikes, large box bikes, scooters, pile of kid bikes, bike trailer, tandem bike, bike with tag-along: many of these common family bike scenarios don’t fit easily on a standard bike rack)?
I hate to think that a lack of parking would prevent anyone from riding a bike. Tell me, especially garage-free folks, how do you park your family bike(s)? Has a lack of parking ever prevented you from getting a bike? And if you could make bike parking better for your family, what would a better situation look like?
Shannon is a 36-year-old mom of five who lives in downtown Hillsboro. Her column appears weekly. Contact her via firstname.lastname@example.org