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Thursday, October 19 2017 @ 01:45 AM UTC

Bike Parking Regulations For Private Businesses Are They Kosher?

Biking in MarylandImagine driving your car to do some business with a company and you park your car in a parking space out front and while you are inside shopping they tow your car away and smash your driver side window.

The business you were shopping at claims they can do this because of some internal memo or obscure thing on the web and since it is private property they can do whatever they want.

That would be total outrageous so why do we put up with that when talking about bicycle parking? In my experiences there is too much "You can't park here." along with "No I don't know where you can park." as well as "I can make up whatever rules I feel like when it comes to bicycles."

I will strongly assert provide good bicycle parking per the guidelines and you will not need draconic policies that involve breaking locks and removal of the offending bicycle. A friendly note on the handlebars asking them to park in the designated area next time should be all that is needed.

Now if a cyclist parks somewhere you don't want and there is decent available bike parking within 500 feet [should have been 120 feet] then I can understand going all medieval on the bike but I don't think that is the normal situation. What seems to be the case is: Cars littering vast tracks of the landscape are "pretty" and necessary but bikes scattered all willy nilly is "ugly" and must be dealt with by extreme measures. This is just the wrong kind of thinking! If cyclists become such a "problem" then that shows that they need more accommodations, not "Let's go medieval on those barbarians and hope they go away."

Note: I have had my lock sawed through and my bike confiscated by a business. And I'm sorry but returning my bike with a broken lock is not an all's well that ends well type of situation. Without the ability to lock my bike, my mode of transportation was turned into a toy that I could only ride around my house and do nothing useful with it (other then just exercise.) That's why I included breaking the car window in my opening analogy, the usefulness of a car is diminished with a broken window, just as my bike's usefulness was diminished without a lock.

Reacting to University of Maryland Bicycle Parking and Impoundment Regulations

Bicycles shall be parked in accordance with federal, state, and local fire and safety regulations. Bicycles shall not be parked or stored in the following areas:
B. Against or fastened to any tree, plant, bush, or other landscape item [Not against federal, state, and local fire and safety regulations]
C. Against or fastened to any ..., fence, ..., railing, ... ...
D. Upon or attached to any ingress/egress ramp, stairway or stairwell railing or otherwise fastened to ... any exit/entrance to any University building [As long as not impeding pedestrian movement, this too is not against federal, state, and local fire and safety regulations, unless the local fire department has gone anti-bike as well.]
UMCP maintains the right to impound, and will remove security devices at the expense of the owner/operator, any bicycle that is ... parked in violation of these regulations. [UMCP wants the right to break the law? That's laughable, see the following]

§ 21-1206.(c) Tampering with bicycle, motor scooter, or EPAMD. -- A person may not remove, ride on, or tamper with any part of a bicycle, an EPAMD, or a motor scooter without the permission of its owner.

It its never a legal remedy to react to illegal behavior with illegal behavior, so it is even more erroneous to react to legal behavior with illegal behavior. So with the exception of abandoned bikes or bicycles parked in such a way to cause a legitimate safety concern (which I'll talk about both in a bit) the UMCP is breaking the law by impounding bikes.

So let's look at where the state prohibits bike parking:
§ 21-1208. Securing bicycle, motor scooter or EPAMD to certain objects
  • (a) Prohibition. -- A person may not secure a bicycle, an EPAMD, or a motor scooter to a fire hydrant, police or fire call box, or traffic control device.
  • (b) Poles, etc., within bus or taxi-loading zones. -- A person may not secure a bicycle, an EPAMD, or a motor scooter to a pole, meter, or device located within a bus or taxi-loading zone.
  • (c) Poles, etc., within 25 feet of intersections. -- A person may not secure a bicycle, an EPAMD, or a motor scooter to a pole, meter, or device located within 25 feet of any intersection.
  • (d) Poles, etc., having notices forbidding securing of bicycles. -- A person may not secure a bicycle, an EPAMD, or a motor scooter to a pole, meter, or device on which notice has been posted by the appropriate authorities forbidding the securing of bicycles.
  • (e) Obstructing or impeding traffic or pedestrian movement. -- A person may not secure a bicycle, an EPAMD, or a motor scooter to any place where the securing of a bicycle or a motor scooter would obstruct or impede vehicular traffic or pedestrian movement.
  • (f) Securing to parking meter. -- A bicycle, an EPAMD, or a motor scooter may be secured to a parking meter, without payment of the usual fees, if it is entirely removed from the bed of the street normally used for vehicular parking.

So this is the rub, you can be parked legally per state law (just like you would anywhere else in this state) yet in the eyes of UMCP you will be parked illegally and can suffer the consequences. Can anyone override state law without going through the law making process? Umm, see below. (Note: an astute reader could find more items that are legal per state law but illegal per UM policy then what I have pointed out here, as I just pointed out the more blatant items.)

Maryland Declaration of Rights: Art. 9. That no power of suspending Laws or the execution of Laws, unless by, or derived from the Legislature, ought to be exercised, or allowed.

Keep in mind all they have to do is put up a sign in the areas they don't want bike parking, if the problem is not pronounced enough to justify the cost of the signs, then it is also not significant enough for draconic policy, just tell people that you would prefer them not to park in the areas that I highlighted and leave it at that.

Bicycle registration is mandatory for all bicycles parked or stored on campus.
While it is possible to make this mandatory of students and facility, again, UMCP cannot create laws such as this for visitors of the campus.

Some sampling of bike parking around Maryland:

This would be illegal per UMCP. This is the bike parking at the Senate building in Annapolis as the building has no bike racks. There is a bike rack somewhere on the capital campus but good luck in finding it, it really is in an out of the way place.

This would be illegal per UMCP. Another building with no bikes racks but the fencing provides ample parking for cyclists.

UPDATE: I just found this on the web and the response from the collage is so cool. Also note how the bike is 100% out of the way of pedestrians but illegal per UMCP:
"Our bike racks are an option not a requirement." - Broome Community College

So people who are used to parking their bikes in a usual (and legal) manner for Maryland are suddenly subjected to being treated like trespassers and wanton criminals all because of the lack of adequate bike parking.

§ 21-1008. Bicycle accommodations
By fiscal year 2000, each public institution of higher education and State employment facility shall provide reasonable accommodations necessary for bicycle access, including parking for bicycles.

So I have to ask is reasonable parking being provided if they have to resort to such drastic measures to deal with the bicycle parking "problem?"

§ 10-209.(c) Duties. -- The University System of Maryland shall:
(6) Increase access for economically disadvantaged and minority students;

Does paying for citations, impound fees and storage fees for a legally parked bicycle sound like increasing access for economically disadvantaged students???

Abandoned bicycles and safety considerations

The right of any property owner to remove abandoned property is not under scrutiny here but is just "a notice attached to a bike for two weeks prior to impoundment." sufficient for making a reasonable effort to contact the owner? (Keep in mind the mandatory registration required, so I assume they have a way of getting in touch with students who do register their bikes.)

But I will highly criticize "the right" to impound bicycles for being "parked in violation of these regulations that go above and beyond the statutes of the state.

Safety considerations, at times I picture something like this: The fire department says "no storage of items here" thinking of some flammable toxic substance that would truly be a hazard during a fire and other bulk storage items that would impede pedestrian movement, yet in near identical spaces you can find vending machines, magazine racks, phones and fire extinguishers that are equal if not greater impediment to pedestrian travel then a bicycle. I would love to see more realistic restrictions to bicycle parking or better yet more secure bicycle parking facilities per the guidelines.

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The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Just to note the article has been updated with the following pic and quote:

UPDATE: I just found this on the web and the response from the collage is so cool. Also note how the bike is 100% out of the way of pedestrians but illegal per UMCP:
"Our bike racks are an option not a requirement." - Broome Community College
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UM Responds:

Thank you for reading the University of Maryland College Park regulations so closely, we wish more people did.

Some Context for your article:

The University of Maryland College Park has more than 4,000 bicycle parking spaces for about 40,000 students, faculty and staff. We sell about 21,000 parking permits and we offer a fare-free shuttle system that reached 3.5 million in ridership this year. We do regular bicycle counts and surveys that indicate about 5 to 10 percent of our population uses a bike on campus.

The APBP study that you reference does not mention actual numbers of parking that should exist. However, other studies do, please follow the links. You will find that our bicycle parking already meets those recommendations. Also, I don’t think there is a single place on campus without bicycle parking within 500 feet. (That is longer than a football field including the end zones!)

The University is also a League of American Bicycling Bronze level Bicycle Friendly University.

From looking at your photos I think that you may have taken pictures at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. They recently changed their branding to drop the word “Baltimore” and that might be part of what caused the confusion.

Since you seem passionate, I will share that in practice we never cut bikes that are on the other side of the railing. However, on this campus we have extremely high pedestrian counts (Think 500 students in one intersection within a 10 minute time interval) and if the pictured was on the other side, it definitely would impede disabled access. We need regulations that allow us to restore that access when it is impeded. Also, your article asks about contacting registrants. If a bike is registered, we contact the owner in lieu of cutting the lock when a bike needs to be moved.

We love to talk about bikes here. We present at other universities about what you can do to encourage bicycling. If you, or anyone else for that matter, would like to talk with us about biking at the University of Maryland please email me at or email our bike coordinator at Or friend us on Facebook! BikeUMD

For more about our biking programs and bikeUMD, visit our website:

We appreciate the link to the APBP guidelines, we are familiar with them and here are a few more resources that we use to inform our parking regulations and plans:

International Green Construction Code Version 2, 2010

TDM Encyclopedia: Bicycle Parking Guidelines

Portland Bureau of Transportation

Thank you,

Beverly Malone

Assistant Director | University of Maryland | Department of Transportation Services | 301-314-0183

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