Solve the family bike pile problem

It’s always hard to detangle what you want. (Photos: Shannon Johnson/Pike Portland)

Family bike parking problem #1: bike pile

Does anyone else have a “bicycle 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 pile, and the coveted bike is always at the bottom of the pile. After months of digging and tripping over bikes, I’m finally my husband Enough.

We needed a better setup for family bike parking. Most bike parking solutions we’ve seen involved hanging bikes on different hooks and hangers. We didn’t want any vertical suspension options because we want our kids to be able to get on and off their bikes without our help. And I don’t want to hang up bikes, or wrestle them, every time a kid, or all five kids, want to ride. We needed a way to keep the bikes organized so that the kids could reach them. And my husband wanted to keep costs low. Spending money on a fancy bike rack was never an option.

After a little thought, my husband found a solution online. It’s an easy-to-use, inexpensive bike rack that kids can use without help, and it also includes a bike stand. My husband made everything using scrap wood and leftover paint with free paint. As a final touch, he added some hooks to hang the helmets. Finally, we have a bike stand instead of a bike pile!

Family bike parking problem #2: No garage

If we were still living in our previous rent (a two-bedroom duplex apartment with open parking and no garage) I don’t think I would own a bike today.Without bike parking, I wouldn’t ride a bike.

When we tackled our bike pile problem, I started thinking more about family bike parking issues. We have a big family, and it so happened that – for the first time in our lives – we also have a large garage. This makes parking our bikes at home easy, weatherproof and safe. However, we didn’t have a garage before that. In the past decade, we’ve lived in six different places, and we’ve never had a garage before. In a few places, I’ve kept a personal bike in a spare room, or even a corner of the kitchen, in a shed, in a rental unit communal laundry room, and in a covered front porch.

For one person, storing a bike on an apartment wall or in the living room may not be a big deal. But the bike storage dilemma increases if your family gets bigger (especially when you don’t keep up with your living space). For families who live in an apartment, apartment, or house without a garage, knowing how to store one or two adult bikes, as well as two or three children’s bikes, a bike trailer, a length marker, a scooter, or — good grief! Cargo bike.

In fact, if we were still living in our previous rent (a two-bedroom duplex apartment with open parking and no garage) I don’t think I would own a bike today. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have bought a cargo bike, and I wouldn’t have even considered buying a family e-bike. For me to invest my 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 want the bike to be covered, secure, and easy to get in and out of. To be clear: Without bike parking, I wouldn’t ride a bike.

This realization made me think. Is bike parking a limiting factor for families who might otherwise use the bike? What are the options for cycling families that don’t have private garages? And is there anything to be done about it? Can we add more bike parking in our city? Is there a need? If so, what should this bike stand look like? How can we best meet the unique parking needs of families (tall bikes, box bikes, scooters, children’s bike stack, bike trailer, tandem bike, and marker bike along: Many common family bike scenarios do not easily fit on a rack? Standard bike)?

I’d hate to think that no parking would prevent anyone from riding a bike. Tell me, especially for people who don’t have a garage, how do you park your family’s bike(s)? Did lack of parking prevent you from getting a bike? And if you could make bike parking better for your family, what would a better situation look like?

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