Data Nerd: Mapping Vancouver’s Bike Racks

Updated on 2016-04-12 to include 2013-2015 data.

The City of Vancouver made its bike rack data public yesterday. The data is divided into 4 spreadsheets, which isn’t terribly useful. The only interesting tidbit is the exponential growth in bike lane installations. Vancouver now has 1468 bike racks at 1119 locations throughout the city.

In the all the years up until 2009, 676 bike racks were installed.
In 2010: 52
In 2011: 197
In 2012: 543
In 2013: 138
In 2014: 148
In 2015: 422

But without a map, that doesn’t tell the full story. The map above is an interactive google map.

Note: The dataset uses addresses to identify the bike racks, so it’s not perfect when you zoom in.


  1. Great idea! Is this just the city-installed ones? I’m fairly sure there are a lot more if you include the ones installed by businesses or condos, for example. Or parks–I know there are several racks at Mount Pleasant Park, but they don’t show up on the map…


    • I think you’re right. The description says: “The City has just added a dataset that displays location data of bike racks that are installed on City property. It also includes street use permit locations issued to commercial tenants, Business Improvement Associations (BIA), building owners and development companies, etc”. That explains why the bike rack in front of my apartment isn’t on the map. Nothing on private property needs a permit. As for parks, the Parks Board must install their own racks.


  2. Chris, my name is Linda Low and I am the coordinator for the City’s open data program. Thanks very much for mapping out the bike racks. It is always good to know people are using our data. The data custodian is working on adding x-y coordinate information which will make the locations more precise. Unfortunately, the process is fairly manual so it will take some time to complete. In the meantime, I am curious to know how we can make the dataset more useful. The source data is in separate tables (based on year of installation). The current responsible department started to track installations in Year 2010 when they took over the duty. They are working with the previous department to compile the information prior to 2010. The corrals on the Hornby/Dunsmuir separated lanes were installed before 2010.


    • Good question Linda. Adding the lat,lng coordinates directly to the source data would definitely help. It would improve accuracy and make mapping easier (no need to rely on geocoding tools).

      Beyond that, it’s worth considering how the data is going to be used. The main users are probably cyclists and planners. Although as a cyclist myself, I do wonder at how often I would use a bike rack map beyond an initial look for curiosity. Any pole can be used for bike parking in a pinch, so I’m rarely constrained by where the bike racks are located.

      That said, if you wanted to go all out, my dream app would be a comprehensive bike parking map that would use crowd sourcing to catalogue all the bike parking in the city. The City’s bike rack data would be the initial data set, but it is missing all the bike racks on private property (as others have noticed), so you need a mechanism and dedicated volunteers to collect that info. From there, cyclists and planners could use a the map to decide where new bike racks are needed (see the Bike Parking Requests sidebar on CoV’s website). Maybe I’ll look into building this for the next Hackathon.


      • It’d be great if said app could include a simple, quick way to notify the city that a rack was damaged or unbolted too. Or maybe a ratings system for the racks might be nice: visibility/security, broken/cut, often full, covered, etc. Sometimes I’ve locked up my bike only to discover a better place on my way into where I was going.


  3. Lisa C, due to change in responsibility, we don’t have all the racks that were installed before Yr 2010 at this time. Your suggestion re: rating system is good except I will advise not to include duability (rack material info.) as a criteria. Certain types of metal are becoming more valuable these days.
    Chris, If there is such an app, it can help make our job easier too. The public can report the missing locations. The data custodian can verify if they are on city property and then update the inventory accordingly. As the open data feed will be refreshed to include new bike racks, it will be good if the map can also be updated using newer feed.
    Speaking of hackathon, I invite you and the readers here who are interested, to attend the upcoming International Open Data day – Vancouver event on Feb 23rd. For the first time, it is going to happen at City Hall. More info of the main event at The wiki page for Vancouver is at with a link to register and an area to suggest project ideas. We will start promoting the event in the coming days so you will start hearing more about it soon. If you want to make your dream app become a reality, it can happen sooner than you think.


    • I didn’t mean the material of the racks, but security in terms of cameras or windows or in the case of parking garages, visibility from the staffed booth. I find a lot of bike racks are hidden away so that it would be difficult to see if someone were cutting a lock, etc.


  4. Hey Chris, did you happen to map all of this into a Lat/Long table, and if so, would you mind sharing it?

    We’ve been doing a “Bike Census” project in Portland and are wrapping up our first wave of data that we’ll be posting on in the next few weeks.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s