Guidelines for Bicycle Racks

TLDR; bicycle racks are essential for sustainable mobility as they offer convenience and theft reduction (if the correct type is used). Oh, and you can get them for free (or at 50% the cost) with the Government grant.

  1. Why do we need bicycle racks?
  2. Bicycle Rack Designs
  3. Estimated Costs and Government Grant
  4. Suppliers

1. Why do we need bicycle racks?

Cycling is one of the most sustainable and healthy forms of transport. Increasing the number of bicycle users can ease congestion, improve public health, enrich our environment and take pressure off public transport. One important aspect of commuting by bicycle, is bicycle parking and one way of encouraging cycling is to install adequate, convenient, secure and easily accessible bicycle racks at multiple points around a village or city. Bicycle parking is much more efficient than car parking as one car parking space can provide space for a minimum of 6 bicycles (assuming a relatively small car parking space of ~4.5m).

The lack of bicycle parking can seriously discourage bicycle use. Therefore, providing bicycle racks in/near residential areas, offices, parking lots, retail outlets, institutions and near lodging will indirectly promote cycling whilst facilitating the experience for all bicycle users. People are more likely to use a bicycle if they are confident that they will find convenient and secure parking at their destination.

1.1 How to lock a bicycle securely

We will first illustrate how to securely lock a bicycle as this is what inspires adequate, and secure bicycle racks. The best approach is to secure the bicycle frame, and ideally one wheel, to an immovable and secure object with a U-lock. As an extra level of protection, it’s recommended to secure both wheels using a cable that is secured to the U-lock. We therefore recommend bicycle users to buy (i) U-lock and (ii) a cable.

Source: San Francisco Bicycle Coalition – How to Lock your bike


2. Bicycle Rack Design Guide

The previous section illustrated how a bicycle must be locked for it to be secure. However, the bicycle rack itself dictates how conveniently and securely one can lock their bicycle. Bicycle parking can be split in two main categories: (i) Short Term Parking and (ii) Long Term Parking. We will focus on short-term parking in this section. A bicycle rack must meet the following performance criteria* for it to be adequate and secure:

    • Supports the bicycle upright (keeping both wheels on the ground)
    • Allows locking of the frame and at least one wheel with a U-lock, and have at least two points of contact with the bicycle.
    • Materials are durable and secure
    • Use is intuitive and convenient
    • Accommodates a variety of bicycles and attachments (there are multiple kinds of bicycles)

*obtained from Boston Bike Parking Guidelines and City of Cambridge Bicycle Parking Guide

2.1 The Recommended Design

The Sheffield bicycle rack (also known as Inverted U Rack) is a highly functional bicycle rack, and for this reason is preferred by bicycle users. It is our recommended standard for bicycle racks, however, the Post-and-Ring design illustrated below also meets the performance criteria set out above. Two bicycles can fit with every rack, and each rack is tall enough to lock the frame with the rack (unlike wheelbenders).

Source: City of Sacramento Bike Rack Design and Placement Design Standards

For added safety, these bicycle racks can be mounted in-ground to prevent theft. We have prepared an official Technical Specification for the Sheffield type rack. For the post-and-ring style rack, you can refer to the ones found in the Boston Bicycle Parking Guidelines.

2.2 Please Avoid Wheel-Benders!

A wheel-bender is a bicycle rack which supports the bicycle only by the wheel. These type of racks:

      1. Can damage the bicycle, especially if it’s knocked over by someone or by the wind.
      2. Take more time, make it more difficult and harder to lock the bicycle securely.
      3. More prone to bicycle theft.

There are various forms of these racks, the worst ever seen in Malta being the one in Paola, but typically look something like the below images. Any variations from the recommended designs are usually not intuitive or user friendly, so please refrain from investing in them.

Source: City of Sacramento Bike Rack Design and Placement Design Standards

2.3 Location and layout of Bicycle Racks

The bicycle racks should be placed in safe and accessible locations. These are:

    • In full view to maximise visibility and minimise theft or vandalism.
    • Close to the main entrance / point of interest of the designated destination.
    • Preferably in shade.
    • Not obstructing pedestrians.

The image below illustrates our recommendation for distances between walls and the racks, between racks, and the distance between racks and the curb.

2.4 Long Term Bicycle Parking

Long term parking is underutilised in Malta, the increase of this type of parking has shown in other countries to encourage use of cycling for commuting purposes. It has also shown to reduce theft. Long-term bike parking is sheltered with added protection and enclosure, and bikes may be stored for over two hours. Long-term bike parking comes in the form of bike lockers and lockups, which includes bike shelters, bike rooms, and bike parking stations. The advantage of long-term parking is that it has a high level of protection against bike theft as it offers an enclosed space. Unauthorized access is largely eliminated, and cyclists can also leave their cycling accessories attached to their bike.

3. Estimated Costs and Government Grant

The price depends on the material, but the price ranges somewhere around €60-€300 per rack (fits 2 bicycles). Galvanised steel is cheaper (but less durable) than stainless steel bicycle racks, but the good thing is: you can get them for FREE (see below). One Sheffield type bicycle rack from local suppliers costs around €120-€150.

Local councils and non-for-profit enterprises are eligible to apply for up to 100% of the expense. Commercial enterprises are eligible to apply for up to 50% of the expenses.

3.1 How do we apply for the grant?

Links to the official Government of Malta documents and grants are linked below. The following documents are required to be eligible for the grant:

  • Copy of the ID Card of the applicant or any other official document of identity (refer to Government Notice for Bicycle Racks Grants)
  • Quotations for equipment purchased and works, which must specify if installation is included.
  • Picture of the proposed racks
  • Site plan and photos of where the bicycle racks / ancillary facilities will be installed

At reimbursement stage, the applicant must submit:

  • Original Fiscal Receipts and commercial invoices. More information in the case that a fiscal receipt is not possible is found in the Government Notice for Bicycle Racks Grants linked below.
  • In the case of equipment purchased from abroad, the original invoices of the purchase of such items issued by the supplier together with the delivery notes, the original documentary proof that final payment has been affected, and clearance from Maltapost/Department of Customs Malta (if needed) must be provided.

These documents need to be submitted to: Board for the Bicycle Rack Fund, Ministry for Finance and Employment, Maison Demandols, South Street, Valletta

Find below the government notice, and english and maltese versions of the grants

Government Notice for Bicycle Racks Grants 
Bicycle Racks Application Form 2022

4. Bicycle Racks Suppliers

If you know of any other supplier, or if any of these suppliers do not offer the service anymore, please let us know on [email protected].

For overseas purchases, you can take a look at the links below. The price from this supplier ranges from €60 – €160 per bicycle rack (each fits 2 bicycles).

For additional signage works, our members recommend Viking Signrite Ltd.

Please contact us on [email protected] if you have any additional queries.