Youth en Route improves old-school bike racks making them functional

What is in virtually every school yard in Canada and is practically useless?

The bike rack.

Usually installed over 50 years ago, these solid metal racks are rusty, unwieldy,  and don’t allow students to get the frame of their bike close enough to anything solid to lock it securely. “They were meant to hold the bike upright by providing a slot for the tire, not for locking,” explains Laura Shutiak, with Youth en Route, a Calgary-based non-profit that champions active transportation. “The fact that so many of them are still around, shows how durable they are. But they just aren’t functional.”

Theft is a huge issue today. Bikes have larger and wider tires and frames that don’t fit between the uprights on the rack. The poor design means these racks go unused . Many bikes are stolen from schools because of poor quality locks and locking techniques. Our student surveys indicate the lack of secure storage is a barrier to students choosing green and healthy modes to get to school.

Youth en Route has a solution. Working with an Arusha Centre Take Action Grant,  volunteers, donors and fabricators, we have re-engineered the rack to make it functional. The new rack has large hoops to allow bike frames to lean with two points of contact. Long chains have been welded to the rack, which means students don’t need a full U-Lock, which is expensive and heavy to transport. Students can lock securely with a padlock. With parts provided by Youth en Route, the Calgary Board of Education welding shop fabricated the prototype rack that is in use by students at  Henry Wisewood High School.

Youth en Route  received donations and help  from:

Brian Scott and Joe Lawrence: Teachers at Bishop McNally and avid cyclists helped develop the idea and are building a second prototype. 

Professional Pipe:  ¾ inch pipe

BenPro: bending of hoops

Campbell Mack Supply: ¼ inch, Grade 30 chain

Keith Simmons: Fabricator, ideas, cutting and bending

While not foolproof, this design, can help students keep their bikes safe. We work with schools and students to ensure racks are located in high traffic areas, bikes are registered with Bike Index and students use good locking techniques. This holistic approach is proven to reduce theft.  

We are looking for funding to re-make every old bike rack in the city. By our estimation, there are hundreds of them. Our idea re-uses existing racks, reduces waste and saves school boards money.  Had we paid for materials and labour, the prototype would have cost about $650 – a bargain considering new, fabricated bike racks would be $2,000 to install. 



Falling over at Bishop McNally HS
No way to get frame close to lock
Bike ripe for the taking at Lord Beaverbrook HS

New and Improved

Room to lean bike again hoop
Rack will hold about 24 bikes, with chains to lock 12
Chains become locking tool, more secure than cable lock

See our TAG grant application video

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