U-PASS Reports

Bicycle Rack Utilization Report

June 2000

University of Washington Transportation Office


This report documents the University of Washington bicycle rack utilization study for the year 2000. It also identifies a proposed strategy for facility reallocation based upon the recent bicycle rack survey. For more information about bicycle programs at the University of Washington, visit the U-PASS Website.

Survey Methodology

The survey was completed by Transportation Office staff on Monday, May 15th 2000 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Surveyors used CAD maps of campus bicycle facilities to locate and count the number of bicycles parked at each location. Surveyors also noted any bicycles parked illegally on rails, posts, trees, or other non-rack locations. Weather on the day of the survey was clear and sunny with temperatures in the 70s. Similar conditions were prevalent on most survey days in past years. Comparison to Past Surveys

As shown in the table below, bicycle racks in May 2000 were found to be 33 percent utilized. This is the same utilization rate as achieved in 1999, and marks the end of the decline in utilization rate since 1997. Two thousand and thirty legally parked bicycles (not counting those in lockers) were counted on campus this year.

In fact, the number of bicycles counted on campus has remained relatively constant for the last three years, while the number of racks and spaces on campus has increased significantly.

Table 1: Campus Bicycle Rack Utilization 1997 - 2000
Bicycle Racks Bicycle Spaces Bicycles Counted Utilization

Evaluating Adequacy of Bicycle Racks

As part of the program of encouraging and facilitating bicycle usage by students, faculty, and staff, the University of Washington has an interest in ensuring the best possible arrangement of facilities. Several opportunities factors determine locations in need of additional (or fewer) bicycle facilities. They include:

  • Overall rack usage by campus location
  • Evaluation of specific locations with over 75 percent utilization in the last three years
  • Locations where bicycles are found locked to non-rack objects
  • Comments given by campus cyclists (to the campus Bicycle Advisory Group, to the Transportation Office, or through campus outreach processes such as the campus master planning process)
Covered vs. Uncovered Bicycle Rack Usage

As shown in Table 2, the 2000 utilization of covered racks was 40 percent, compared with 29 percent utilization of uncovered bicycle racks. This table also conveys information regarding locations with high utilization. Specifically, the high rack utilization (of both covered and uncovered racks) is located in West Campus. However, looking at the number of spaces available, one can see that, compared to North Campus, for instance, West Campus has half the number of bicycles, but 75 percent less spaces. Also, the majority of West Campus spaces are related to student dormitories.

Table 2: Covered/Uncovered Bicycle Rack Utilization

Covered Bike Racks

Uncovered Bike Racks

Total Bicycles

Campus Area

# of Bicycles Parked

# of Covered Spaces

Percent Utilization

# of Bicycles Parked

# of Covered Spaces

Percent Utilization

Total Bicycles Parked

Total Spaces

Percent Utilization





























































Illegally Parked Bicycles

A total of 73 bicycles were found locked to trees, poles and railings around campus. This represents a sharp drop in the number of illegally parked bicycles, from 266 bikes in 1995. This may be attributed to educational efforts and enforecment, and the addition of over 500 bicycle racks over five years.

The greatest number of bicycles parked illegally were found near student dormitories (Mercer, Haggett, and Stevens Court), with fewer near Hitchcock Hall, Magnuson Health Sciences Center, and the NW Horticultural Center. Over-Capacity Locations

Several of the consistently over-utilized locations are adjacent to student dormitories, including McCarty, Haggett, Terry-Lander, McMahon, Mercer Hall, and Stevens Court.

Aside from the dormitory racks, the majority of overutilized locations are located on South and Central campuses. This is interesting, because these two areas show relatively low utilization (see below), perhaps signifying misallocation of existing racks. Under-Capacity Locations

Racks that were found to be under-capacity three years in a row, with a sizable number of unused spaces, include:

  • Toast racks near Kane Hall, on Spokane Lane
  • Custom racks at the lower level of McMahon Hall, and the Bike-Up system installed at Stevens Court
  • Toast racks at West Campus parking garage
  • Toast racks at Benson Hall and Chemistry Library (East)
  • Toast racks north of Bloedel Hall
  • Toast racks under the Hitchcock Hall pedestrian bridge
  • Ribbon racks at Benton Lane EE Building
  • Racks at IMA/Hec-Ed
  • Racks at Nuclear Reactor
  • Racks in several locations at Southeast campus: Magnuson Court, UWMC East Expansion

Possible Improvement Areas

Campus locations where under-utilized racks are in close proximity to over-utilized racks include Benson Hall, Hitchcock Hall, Stevens Court, and Bloedel Hall.

Based on the most recent inventory of campus facilities, utilization survey, and comparison with past surveys, the following recommendations are made:

  • Terry-Lander - The ramps are currently unanchored and not optimally placed. They have also been consistently overcapacity for the last four years, especially the covered racks. The racks to the west end of the dormitory were surrounded by a large amount of leaves and other debris
  • Kane Hall/Flagpole - The toast racks are currently accessible from one side only, creating unused capacity. At Kane Hall by Pierce Lane there is a lot of unused capacity. Proposed reconfiguration of Spokane Lane at flagpole turnaround might offer opportunity to create more of a bike hub, but location should be analyzed further to see if additional capacity is even merited at this spot.
  • Bloedel Hall - The racks near Burke-Gilman and pedestrian bridge are overcapacity while ribbon racks on the east (courtyard) side of Bloedel are largely underutilized. A potential for improved facilities at this location is in large demand. If service parking were removed from west side of pedestrian path to the bridge, additional racks could be added, creating an entire circle of bike racks, with good access to the Burke Gilman (enhanced even more by improved ramp access to the Burke Gilman in place of the steep slope currently connecting the two locations).
  • Haggett Hall - There is a consistent demand for increased bicycle storage at this location. The best opportunity may be to develop a bicycle area in lower parking garage, or expand the bicycle facilities either inside the dormitory or across the street in the N6 parking area (or with future development).
  • UWMC - East Expansion (emergency) - The section of eight ribbon racks to the south (fronting on Columbia Road) are partially unusable - 5 of the racks have hedges grown up around them. Consider relocating to an area with high demand, or removing shrubbery.
  • Magnuson Health Sciences Center - Several racks were found on the courtyard railing even though the (uncovered) racks were not fully utilized. A further investigation of this location should be conducted.
  • Mercer Hall - The existing uncovered racks in the courtyard, as well as racks to the north, are highly utilized, with bicycles found in the vicinity. Additional capacity at this location would be helpful.
  • Stevens Court - This is another student residence hall location with an abundance of bicycles and well-utilized racks (in the center courtyard). Stevens Court might also benefit from increased and reproportioned facilities. The covered shed to the north of the complex which houses ribbon racks as well as the Bike-Up system, is a good idea, but the Bike-Up system is not well utilized. One reason may be the secluded location of the shed and lack of appropriate night lighting.
  • Benson Hall - The rack on the west side of the building is well utilized while the racks on the south side are mostly empty. Consider moving at least one of these racks to the west side, or analyzing the south racks to see if they are visible and have good connections both to pathways and to the building.
  • Sieg Hall East (bike parking for the HUB) - Additional capacity is needed at this location.