Frequently Asked Questions

Total: 18


Why does CDOT install bike racks?
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Providing secure bicycle parking is one of the most effective ways to encourage Chicagoans to bicycle. Bicycling is an efficient, environmentally-friendly form of transportation that is also healthy and fun. For more information on Chicago's efforts to provide bicycle parking, consult Chapter 3 of Chicago's Bike 2015 Plan.
How do I report a broken or damaged rack?
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To report a broken or damaged rack, you have two options:
  1. Find the Rack Location within this website and use the form at the bottom of the page to report it, or,
  2. Call 311 to report the Rack Location. Always ask the operator for the Service Request number - this is your tracking number.
You can inquire with the Bike Parking Program about the rack's status, using either the Rack ID number on this website, or the 311 Service Request number you obtained.
What's the best way to request bike racks for several locations on a street?
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If you are community or business group interested in increasing bicycling in your neighborhood or district by increasing bike racks, please contact us directly. We will be happy to speak with you and possibly meet you on-site to mutually agree on good bike rack locations.

If you are an individual, please submit each desired location one at a time.
What is the best way to lock my bike to a bike rack?
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Always lock both the bike frame and at least one wheel to the bike rack. When parking for a short period, you may choose to lock the front wheel and frame. For added security or when you will be parked for more than two hours, use a U-lock to lock the back wheel and frame and use another U-lock or strong cable to lock the front wheel to the rack, frame and/or first U-lock. Make sure that there is little slack in the cable; thieves break locks by hitting them against the ground with a heavy object. Always take any removable items like quick-release seats, lights, mirrors or panniers with you so that they will not be stolen. For more information, see Preventing Bicycle Theft.

How can I request a bike rack?
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Bike racks may be requested two ways:

If you call 311, you can ask the operator for the "SR number" of your request, which can be used to track the  progress of your request on our website.

If I request a bike rack, will I get a response? How do I know you received the request?
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If you request a bike rack through our website, you will receive an automatic email response confirming that we've received your request. This response will include a tracking number, so you can follow the progress of your request on our website.

We receive more than 1,000 requests for bike racks each year, so unfortunately we are not able to make personal replies to each bike rack request.

How many bike racks are installed each year? How many can I get?
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Between 450 and 500 bike racks can be installed each year. Given the limited number of racks to install throughout the city, generally no more than one or two racks will be installed at any one location.

Are bike racks installed throughout the year?
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Bike racks are installed all year long, depending on the weather and sidewalk conditions. However, most bike racks are installed between the months of May and October. Often the weather or sidewalk conditions (water, snow, ice, and salt residue) can interfere with installation between November and April.

What criteria are used to determine if a bike rack can be installed?
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Bike racks can only be installed in locations that meet the following criteria:

How do I get a bike rack removed (including for a sidewalk cafe permit)?
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If you want, need, or require a bike rack to be removed, you must call the CDOT Bike Parking Program as soon as possible. 312-744-4600, or email either Chris or Steven.
What are the best locations for bike racks?
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The best locations for bike racks are locations where they will be used most frequently by the greatest number of people. Locations known to be popular destinations  for bicyclists, or locations where it is desirable to encourage more bicycling are good places for bike racks. Some examples:

Where are bike racks NOT installed?
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Generally, bike racks are not installed at the following types of locations:

Additionally, fewer bike racks are installed at locations where there are many parking meters, as the City of Chicago recognizes parking meters as good and legal places to park bicycles.

How long does it take to get a bike rack installed?
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Installation can happen in a few weeks, other times it may take several months. Many  factors influence if and when a bike rack can be installed, so the date and time of installation cannot be guaranteed.

What about bike parking on private property, or inside work or home?
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Bike rooms and other bike parking facilities are becoming an important, popular amenity in many new and renovated office and condo buildings. Ask about these facilities when choosing a new office or home. Let your current building owner or management know that you and others in your building desire indoor bike parking and offer to help design, operate or construct the facility. If the opportunity arises, consider providing shower and changing facilities as well. If you have a health club or gym in your building consider partnering to provide cyclists with discounted access to lockers and showers. Remember that even a small space—the area under a stairwell, a closet, dead space in a hallway—can provide parking for several bikes.

Please see our Indoor and Private Bike Parking section.

While the City cannot install bike racks on private property, CDOT’s Bicycle Program provides free consulting services on purchasing and installing bike parking. Our free publication, Bike Parking for Your Business, provides detailed information on choosing and locating bike parking fixtures. For more information visit our online publication request form.

For more information, see our Guides for Establishing Bike Parking or contact us.

How much do bike racks cost?
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Bike racks are installed on City property (most commonly sidewalks) at no charge to building owners or residents of Chicago. The bike rack program is funded through federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grants, which have allowed over $2 million worth of bike racks to be installed throughout Chicago.

How did the city choose its bike rack design?
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The current bike rack design, an inverted-U made of 2" x 2" domestic steel that is 1/4 (.25) inch thick, is used for its proven security and aesthetic qualities. The U shape allows bikes to be supported at two points when bikes are parked parallel to racks - allowing cyclists to have both hands free when locking and unlocking bicycles. Chicago bike racks are powder-coated in a black finish that resists scrapes and rust. In the late 90's the city moved from round-tubed to square-tubed steel in order to prevent bike thieves from cutting racks to remove bikes.

How do I get bike parking for my business?
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The Chicago Bike Parking Program can help your business get bike parking. We see two situations for which businesses need bike parking:

  1. To satisfy zoning requirements. The Municipal Code of Chicago may require that you provide a minimum number of bike parking spaces on your private property. We will provide free consultation on how to proceed and from where to purchase bike racks. Contact us and we'll talk.
  2. To provide bike parking for employees and customers. Request bike parking using the form on our homepage.

Also, please read our brochure, "Bike Parking For Your Business."

What happens when a bike is abandoned on the sidewalk?
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The CDOT Bicycle Program removes abandoned bikes locked to city-owned racks and street furniture. Report abandoned bikes on city-owned racks and street furniture by calling 311. Abandoned bikes and parts are donated to Working Bikes, a not-for-profit organization that repairs landfill-bound bicycles to working condition and sells them to Chicagoans at a low cost in order to fund shipments of bicycles and parts to developing countries.

Read more information about this procses.

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