How to (legally) install a bike rack

Since we talked about bike rack design last month, we’ve gotten lots of questions about bike rack installation. So here is a handy-dandy guide to petitioning the city for the legal installation of one on a sidewalk outside your business.

Copy the letter below and and fill it in with your info.

June 26, 2010

Detroit City Council
c/o City Clerk
Coleman A. Young Municipal Center
Room 200
Detroit, MI 48226

RE:   Petition for Right of Way Encroachment Approval to Establish / Install an Outdoor Patio / Bike Rack / Bench / Etc. along the Sidewalk on the east side of Woodward, between Temple and Charlotte submitted by Wheelhouse Detroit, LLC.

Dear Honorable City Council Members:

Wheelhouse Detroit is a bicycle shop offering new bike sales, retail, service, bicycle rentals and tours. It opened in 2008, and is the only full-service new bike shop in Greater Downtown Detroit. Wheelhouse currently operates from March through November in a small space located on the Detroit Riverwalk at Rivard Plaza.

This letter from Wheelhouse Detroit requests a petition number to grant approval for a right of way encroachment to install a bike rack along the sidewalk along the east side of Woodward Avenue, between Temple and Charlotte.

Attached you will find the specification cut sheet for the bike rack to be installed as well as a measured drawing indicating the as built location of the bike rack.  As the petitioner, Wheelhouse Detroit understands if the right of way encroachment is approved, Wheelhouse Detroit must enter into a maintenance agreement with the City of Detroit to accept liability for the encroachment and ensure the proper maintenance of the rack.

Please feel free to contact me at 313.656.2453 should you require any additional information in order to proceed.  Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

Wheelhouse Detroit

Attachments: The cut sheet isn’t necessary, but a site plan is — you’ll just need a measured drawing that shows the building, where the fence for the patio or the bike rack will be installed, where the right of way is (sidewalk, street, property line). For this, it doesn’t need to be to scale, but it should indicate the measurements. Maybe throw in some photos of the site.

You submit the package to the City Clerk and in about 2 to 3 weeks you’ll get a petition number and someone from the City will contact you, more than likely the Survey Bureau from the Department of Public Works. They will assist you in processing your request, but they need a petition number to start.

Again, feel free to contact us at for advice or assistance. We love seeing bike racks sprouting up around town, especially when they are done well!


One response to “How to (legally) install a bike rack

  1. What do you think would happen if we just got one of our neighbors to make one and lock it to the fence in front of our house?
    I’m excited that you put this up, and all the right of way and cut sheet stuff is stuff I want to learn more about, but with the roads in terrible shape and Kwame back in court, I’m not really holding my breath for them to do anything quickly.
    Plus we’re not really people that own business here, and that seems to make a difference with how you’re treated by the city from my three decades plus experience living in Detroit.
    We just want something for our kids to lock their bikes to, and my one neighbor has a cart she uses to get groceries and move things so I guess it would be nice for her too when their family is unloading food.
    One of our neighbors used to weld for a living and he said he would put something together if we wanted, and lock it to his fence and let the kids lock to it. Should we disguise it as a planter or something? Does the process include them actually coming out to where you want to put it, or could we get away with mailing the petition later?

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