UPDATE, 04-23-10: I start to further address distance in the discovery of “Bike Parking Phenomenon A.” Also on my Master’s Project website.

Not every concept, skill or tool can be further and further simplified. Does anything really take just 3 steps?

1. Set it, 2. Forget it, 3. No third step! (This article is about bike parking, not Ron Popeil’s Showtime Rotisserie!)

I believe I can simplify bike parking. Here are my two rules to have successful and well-used bike parking:

1. Put bike parking as close to the front door as physically possible. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen bicycle riders use a substandard sign pole or tree instead of a high-quality bike rack because the bike rack was an additional 20 feet from the front door. UPDATE: As Dave Reid points out in the comments below, close parking increases security. Additionally, I’ve now written about the phenomenon where people lock to inadequate fixtures when high-quality bike parking is nearby, what I call “Bike Parking Phenomenon A” or the “50 feet rule.” Every foot makes a difference!

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The bike parking in this photo sits only 20 feet away from the front door to a popular Chicago, Illinois, restaurant.

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The bike parking in this photo is too far away from the store entrance for bicyclists to consider using it.

2. Choose the right bike rack. How do you know? Give bicycle riders a bike rack that’s easy to use and secure (i.e. don’t let the bike rack be the weak point in the bicycle’s security).

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Six u-racks (also known as inverted-u, or staple racks) line the sidewalk in front of Kuma’s Corner in Chicago, Illinois.

If these two tips aren’t good enough, read through the online brochure, Bicycles at Rest, from the Capital Bike & Walk Society, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.