Outdoor Bike Parking and Indoor Batcaves

We live in an apartment. Its great, no mortgage, no lawn work. And have I mentioned that I love our neighborhood? Get to live within toddler walking distance to the best coffee in the city. And a decent grocery store. And a credit union. And a movie theater. And drunk or weird or nice people to stare at. And several parks with awesome playgrounds. Urban density is nice.

Apartments and bikes go together like parks and squirrels, but unfortunately a lot of apartment-dwelling cyclists have problems with bike storage.

image from Livin in the Bike Lane.

Apartments are small and it can be difficult to share precious space with our two wheeled friends. Parking outside overnight in the city can be risky. Your bike can get lifted, no matter how well you lock up. I used to live on First Hill in a tiny, tiny studio apartment. One of those murphy bed shoeboxes. A studiette. I parked my bike overnight for three years on the sidewalk in front of BauHaus Coffee, on a block busy with foot traffic from three bars and home to street folks and site of lotsa action all hours of the day and night and that bike was always there in the morning. One afternoon I locked to the sidewalk rack on the slightly less active block in front of my building and the bike was gone within an hour. Moral of the story? Jane Jacobs was right about almost everything, including that more eyes on the street is safer for everyone.


Besides theft, the elements can take a toll on most bikes unless they are Dutch and therefore equipped for such treatment. Velouria wrote very well about this subject about a year ago.

One thing that can really split the difference is partially sheltered parking. Like we got. Lucky us!

Left Wheelio outside last night, locked to the staple rack that lives under the carport behind our apartment building. Its a little spooky, this rack has followed me from home to home for 6 or 8 years, always there to give my friends a place to park when they come for a visit. Like I said, lucky us.

Lady Oil drives and loves having parking for her car behind our building. Apparently, finding parking is a big deal for drivers. Where we live, on Capitol Hill near Broadway, this is an even bigger deal, I guess. I am generally pretty peeved about the carport because its behind our building and that means that about half the square feet available to the tenants of our building are dedicated to storing cars, which seems excessive. I’d take the rent money back and hunt for parking, I think.

Easy for me to say, because even if we didn’t have the carport I’d still have a key to the basement crawlspace and get to store several bikes, (including cargo bikes!) down a short flight of stairs and basically have a Batcave for our bicycles.

A bike cave. I like this parking arrangement fine. I am lucky to basically have unlimited storage for bikes outside of the apartment. The real downside is weight. As we get to know one another you’ll learn that I like my bikes heavy and the stairs are a bit of a bummer bummer. I’m thinking of installing a plywood runnel to ease my back.

Even though I find the Batcave pretty convenient and Baby Oil loves going down there and waking up the bikes in the morning this set up is a little annoying compared to just stepping outside and jumping in a car. It takes a bit to get the bikes in and out and I think that wrestling match is often enough to convince the occasional cyclist Madame Oil to just take the car a lot of the time.

The rack under the carport is a decent compromise but neither of us are totally comfortable with it. I love the convenience of just unlocking and riding away but I’d be lying if I said that writing all this hasn’t lead me to the window to see if precious Wheelio is safe out there.

How about you, urban cyclists? Where do your bikes go to sleep? Comment below!