Bike Parking

Post and Ring Bike Racks

Two black outdoor bicycle racks of post and ring style stand on pavement beside a lawn

Hitching posts for bike parking

Once upon a time, posts outside of stores and plazas were for hitching horses. These days, the short bollards put outside buildings are for the convenience of cyclists.

Two black outdoor bicycle racks of post and ring style stand on pavement beside a lawn
Post and ring bicycle racks provide two points of contact with the bike frame.

Post-and-ring bike parking bollards are stylish two-bike options for organizations looking for low profile bike parking that provides convenience and security. Ring bike racks are recommended by many cyclist organizations and city planners and so can be installed with confidence. One of the noted benefits is that bikes can rest against the rings, which provide two points of contact for the frame. This is not just an advantage for the cyclist, but also for pedestrians and other passersby: a stable bicycle is less likely to fall over and become a tripping hazard.

Ring-and-post design history

Hitching posts have been around since horses were domesticated, some 4000-6500 years ago. With this long history, it may not seem like hitching posts for bicycles should be an innovative idea, yet they are relatively new—perhaps because bicycles became popular urban transportation long after horses stopped being seen regularly on city streets. It was the mid ‘80s when ring-and-post bike racks were first invented by designer David Dennis. His was looking for a solution to the ever-growing need for bike parking and considered the ubiquity of parking meters. They were already often being used for impromptu bicycle parking, and he thought they could be enhanced to provide better security to the bicycles.

Post-and-ring bike racks have a small footprint, can secure two bicycles, have no tripping parts, and are negotiable obstacles to a blind person with a cane.

When he first floated this plan, the bylaw enforcers and meter readers of his city pointed out that bike parking on meters was already a nuisance and impediment to their jobs. Otherwise the concept was good: post-and-ring bike racks have a small footprint, can secure two bicycles, have no tripping parts, and are negotiable obstacles to a blind person with a cane. Mr. Dennis then proposed the ring-and-post bike rack as a standalone solution.

For many years, post-and-ring bike racks were constructed so that the locking ring was bolted to one side of the main post (often sidewalk facing). Thieves learned that the weakest point in these systems were the screws attaching them and started breaking the rings off using two-by-fours and leverage. Now, post and ring commercial bike rack designs have arms central to the main pole, locking through a ring in the middle, so that they cannot be levered off.

These centered locking arms also make it easier to park on both sides of bollard, since they provide equal stability on both sides of the pole.

Outdoor bike racks support site design

Cyclists are often worried about bicycle theft, and so defensive parking measures have become an important attractor for many stores, workplaces, and housing complexes. An organization that cares enough to make sturdy, accessible bike parking available shows that is thinking of and is responsive to the needs of its community. Fostering healthy transportation choices shows a commitment to individual health as well as to sustainability.

Outdoor bike posts need to be hard to cut through, with all rack elements having a minimum 1.5” diameter in steel, stainless steel, or aluminum. This sort of attention to strength makes sure it will not be an easy target for thieves. The elegant post-and-ring bike bollard is an attractive but sturdy option.

For racks exposed to the elements, steel needs to be stainless or powder-coated to resist corrosion. Powder coating provides an opportunity to customize the racks to their location. Black is a classical color for outdoor site accents like bike racks and bollards, but other colors can be chosen to blend in or stand out. Standard powder coat colors are black, green, brown, grey/silver, or safety yellow. Custom powder coating is available for big projects with many items. Such custom colored racks can provide distinctive style to residential or commercial sites, campuses, or neighborhoods—they help create a sense of place or brand.

Post and ring racks can come with a variety of mounts, including with bolt down plates for existing concrete, or rebar anchors for new poured installations. Like many bollards, they can also come with removable or fold-down bases, so they might provide variable vehicle access to an area.

Reliance Foundry outdoor post-and-ring bike bollard powder coated in bright yellow
Powder coating is available in a variety of colors to protect outdoor bike racks.

Simple yet satisfying

Post and ring bike racks are simply designed but attractive solutions for commercial bike parking. The upright design allows them to be interspersed with security or traffic bollards without changing the aesthetic of a site. Endorsement by cycling organizations and city planners can give site designers peace of mind that these will be a good solution.

For further guidance on installation and location planning, be sure to check out our Essential Guide to Bike Parking.