We have a bicycle parking rack near the office building. It's rather large: for about 30-35 bikes.

Someone has left their lock (chain or whatever) locked around one part of the rack.

So, I've got two questions:

  • is this rude, or it's just me thinking this way?
  • can I park my bike on such a place if there are no other options?
  • 38
    I would interpret this as meaning that the lock owner is simply storing their lock there between uses. If the lock is not preventing your use of the bike rack, and your use of the rack would not prevent them from removing the lock to use it (on a different location on the rack or a different rack) then you should be able to lock your bike there, with good conscience. If their lock is preventing others from using the rack then, yes, that's rude. Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 11:51
  • 18
    @DanielRHicks If for some reason you find a second lock locking the first lock, somebody may be attempting a Diffie Hellman Key Exchange
    – Michael
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 1:58
  • tell the person leaving it that it make it less secure. What happen if some one sabotage the lock in the night ? he will come in the morning and will have to leave the bike out-looked. It is making thing really easy for a robber.
    – kifli
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 7:47
  • Last time I left my lock on the parking rack, the lock disappeared.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 15:33
  • 1
    I do this at work, but I store my lock on a light pole immediately adjacent to the bike rack. Reduces confusion for other cyclists, and still saves me a lot of weight in my backpack. I realize this isn't possible everywhere, but it works at my place of work.
    – Trevor
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 23:58

5 Answers 5


Whether it's rude is a matter of local custom. Whether you're offended by it depends on your flexibility and sensitivity

Often, we cyclists can become a little over sensitive, after having to defend ourselves from car doors, pedestrians, cars, trucks, laws that don't take us into account, police who have a ticket quota, and even other cyclists.


The person who left it there is just trying to save themselves the trouble of carrying it every day.

And yes, you can still park your bike there. Of course they may think you're rude then, so I'd only park there if it was the last position available.

  • 6
    Good point about "defending". Sometimes while riding I realize I'm prepared and even waiting for something to happen.
    – k102
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 12:05
  • 16
    I used to do this a while back since I only used my bike to commute and could store it securely at home. Main reason was in fact to avoid having to carry it from home to work every day while I only needed it at work (approximately 2kg of additionnal weight). If someone parked on the rack my lock was left on, I just removed it while taking care not to damage the already locked bike. Nothing less, nothing more.
    – Loufylouf
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 13:50
  • 12
    That also saves you the trouble of potentially forgetting your lock at home.
    – njzk2
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 13:52
  • 6
    If the rack is public, the guy leaving the lock there has no right to feel offended by someone parking a bike in the spot where his lock is even if it is not the last spot. One should not "privatize" a public space by leaving his mark there. Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 14:56
  • I do this daily in a storage locker at work. My chain lock is heavy (one of those Dutch heavy chain locks) and my bike is a heavy one too...so to avoid myself (although in the beginning I used ot carry it) the trouble of carrying all that weight on my bike, I started to leave my lock on the ring...others in the room do the same. I do, often run into a situation where on the weekends I may need a lock but I take my chances depending on where I am going.
    – ZSS
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 19:59

I'd pick a different spot in the rack if possible. But if I was in a hurry or there wasn't another suitable place I'd use it (e.g. my bike doesn't fit on the bottom of the double stacker at the station; some places have decent racks and others that don't allow proper locking for all day use). I would try to make sure it's easy to get the lock off, perhaps by sliding it to the end before parking.

Blocking out a space is properly selfish and possible in some racks (e.g. a lock right across a slot-in rack). I wouldn't show any consideration to anyone who does that. Luckily it's rare.

In many places if you want to store a lock, the done thing is to lock it to something like a bike shed pillar or the outer side of the outer rack, so it's easily accessed and not in anyone's way.

My views on this are perhaps quite harsh, as I park at a couple of stations where some people park all day and others all night. Overlap is inevitable. Offices are rather different in that they tend to be occupied for the same part of the day.

  • 2
    I think I'll try to convince people to store their locks in some common place to avoid any confusion
    – k102
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 12:26

This will depend on MANY things, including but not limited to:

  • local custom
  • office politics
  • special concerns (I can't think of any, but more in this later)
  • utilization of the rack
  • your feelings on the matter
  • type of lock

Local custom is important. In some areas it's horridly rude; in others it's common. Does the parking complex for cars have assigned spots? If so then the lock on the rack is probably just an extension of that.

Office politics play a big role. Does the lock belong to the owner of the building and buyer of the rack? Because if it does, you're out of luck. It doesn't matter if it's rude or not - you're not going to win this fight. Or does it belong to an employee who has made a stink in the past and the proposed solution to some problem was to leave the lock?

I can't really think of any special concerns that would affect this, but I do have a similar example from when I used to leave the lock on the lockers at the company gym. Essentially, I was told it was rude to leave the lock on the lockers at the company gym. But this was an arrangement I made with management because I would frequently work half a shift, work out, shower, return to work the other half of the shift, and leaving smelly work out clothes (and I can be smelly) in the locker room was better then stinking up the office. And, because my time around the campus was extensive, in the morning it was better to deposit the clothes in the locker then to have the gym bag around my desk.

If the rack is under utilized, and you know it's going to stay that way, it's a much smaller issue. For example, a 25-bike rack with an office size of 20 people and only 5 of them bike. Then it's not rude at all.

This is tricky. But make sure you have a legitimate reason to be upset. Often we bikers think of ourselves as "last on the list". We see it as a treat to have a bike lane that's clean and free of debris. Make sure you're looking at this issue objectively.

I would add that the type of lock is important. Our local bike shop has around ten types of lock, ranging from a simple cable with built in lock weighing around a pound to massive, complicated bar and cable "systems" that weigh closer to 25 pounds. Their most popular option is a 5 pound cable and U lock combo. Either way, I would not want to carry around some of their heavier locks.

  • Local customs... You know, car drivers tend to "take" some parking places near their homes (blocks) using big bottles of water and other stuff. (And, of course it's totally illegal) I guess that's the reason of my reaction to such behavior.
    – k102
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 14:30

Does the lock make it harder for another person to use that space? If so leaving the lock is rude. If not then it is not rude. If parking your own bike in that space makes it harder for the lock owner to get their lock off so they can use it in another space, that's really for the lock owner to have to deal with and nobody else. Probably the small inconvenience outweighs having to carry a (possibly very heavy) lock on a daily commute.

In the bike room at my office many people leave locks on the racks, never an issue.


The polite thing for the lock owner to do would be to "store" the lock in a place in the rack (eg; at the base) where it's not in anyone's way.

If it's stored in an inobtrusive place or manner,then I'm ok with it.

Otherwise, if it's in a prime spot, it is an unauthorized reservation of that spot. I often encounter this in a crowded bike rack, and I find it quite rude.

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