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Rackathon: Bringing the Best of Bike Parking to Seattle

If you regularly ride your bike in Seattle, you’ve likely had trouble parking your bike. Often, there just aren’t enough bike racks to go around. Sometimes they’re far away or in an odd location—like behind a dumpster, or right up next to a building. And sometimes the racks are just poorly designed and hard to use, particularly if you ride something like an extracycle or a family bike.

On July 9th, over 90 people gathered to help solve these problems at Rackathon: A Regional Summit to Hack the Bike Parking Code. The event, organized by Brock Howell of Cascade Bicycle Club and Bob Edmiston of Madison Greenways, brought together bike advocates, developers, policymakers, city employees from several municipalities, and design firms to work on standards for where bike racks need to go, and to test out a variety of different bike rack designs.

Rackathon participants evaluate a bike rack design.

Rackathon participants evaluate a bike rack design.

Four vendors showed up with their bike racks, and participants got to test them out with a variety of different bicycles. Participants also heard a presentation from the Scott Cohen of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. One big takeaway? Portland has not one, but TWO full time employees devoted to bike parking—amazing! Seattle, with several employees intermittently working on bike parking, has a little catching up to do. If you want to encourage people to bike for everyday transportation, it makes sense to have dedicated professional bike parking staff.

While we may have some catching up to do, Rackathon was a big step forward, with enthusiastic participation from concerned citizens and public officials alike who are passionate about bringing Seattle’s bike parking up to speed. More photos of the event on Facebook. We also learned from Kyle at SDOT just how simple it is to request a bike rack. Check out the video, How to request a bike rack in 30 seconds, and get started on making Seattle a more bike-friendly place to be!

Want more details? See How Seattle can build more and better bike racks from the Seattle Bike Blog.