What do we need to consider in selecting bicycle racks in order to reduce future maintenance costs?

There are several factors to consider when selecting bicycle racks to keep future maintenance costs to a minimum:

  • Finish. Painted racks look great new, but even the best powder coat finish is subject to chipping, fading or peeling over time. Galvanized steel is very durable and low maintenance. If the budget allows, choose stainless steel for durability and appearance. Rubber dipped racks can prevent scratching the frames of high-end bicycles, and make it easier to pull off stickers.
  • Materials. Consider the weight, gauge, and thickness of metals used. Will the rack stand up to daily use and support even the heaviest bicycles without bending? Will it resist vandals who try to bend parts or active children who may treat the rack as a playground structure?
  • Design. Does the rack have any recesses, holes, or other openings where water, dirt, leaves, or other debris might collect and necessitate periodic cleaning? Is the rack of one-piece construction or is it assembled from bolt-together parts? If the latter, expect that some parts will almost certainly loosen up over time and require occasional tightening or replacement.
  • Securing. How is the rack attached to the ground, wall, or other surface? Unsecured racks will shift, no matter how heavy, and require occasional moving back to their original location. If fixed, be sure to choose tamper-resistant fasteners.

Careful consideration of these features when planning a bicycle rack purchase may lead to a higher initial investment but will almost certainly result in a significant cost savings over time.

For more information and resources, visit the Bicycle Parking page on this Web site: http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/engineering/parking.cfm. The Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals publishes Bicycle Parking Guidelines, which is available at http://www.apbp.org/?page=Publications