I have done research on the availability of "event parking" bicycle racks and have only come across a small number of options in this country.
Two companies that provide these types of bicycle racks are Bikeracker from Portland Oregon and Dera. Dera is a company which makes a variety of bicycle racks for all circumstances including “Event Racks”. The bicycle racks provided for the purpose of "event parking" are usually jerry rigged poles, pipes and plywood. I consider them to be a "mock up" design that does not provide the type of stability and security that most bicycles need. On the other hand Dera and Bikeracker provide professionally designed bike racks which I would be in competition with.
The first thing to discuss is why would you even need a rack? Couldn't you just throw down the kickstand and put a tag on the bicycle similar to a coat check? Firstly, bicycles don't always come with a kickstand so we can't rely on the fact that all the bicycles are going to have one. Secondly when using a kickstand the bicycle leans over, taking up valuable space that could be used for another bicycle.
In my research I have found that most jerry rigged temporary bicycle racks and the Bikeracker design rely on having the saddle (seat) hang on a pole. I wanted to find out if this is the most efficient way to store bicycles. I asked my NFP Transportation Alternatives about it and they said this is the most space efficient design they could find. I also contacted Bikeracker and got a similar response.
*It is my belief this is one of the more space efficient ways to park bicycles, but perhaps isn't the most intuitive to the general cycling population. Think you will see some interesting things from your user feedback." (Jeff Castro in an E-mail response) *
So off I went into testing during our first prototyping week. I tested out bicycles on one pole similar to the one that the general valet services uses but altered their idea slightly and decided to stagger the bicycles a little bit. I used two poles at different heights, one at 40" and one at 45" with a distance of 10" apart from the top view. Based on this design there seemed to be an extra inch or two of space saved. If you multiply that by ten bikes you're fitting in an extra 2-3 bicycles for the same footprint as a single pole.
Efficient use of space is where I am hoping to differ a bit from what is out there. The second thing that I am looking for is for my design to be collapsible for ease of transport. The jerry rig version of Transportation Alternatives rack is steel plumbing pipes; one 12' pole with four 6' poles. Designs such as those would be very difficult to carry around on a subway or on the back of a bicycle. The only way to set them up is to use a van or truck. My design should differ in better use of space for efficient racking services and in its collapsibility for ease of storage and transportation
Bikeracker folds up somewhat but not compact enough to be taken without a van or truck. Dera’s event racks don't fold up at all but they stack very well. For this reason, they need to be brought in with a truck and definitely need to be stored in a warehouse.
An important note on collapsible items is that it can never be an item's main function, rather only a supporting function as Per Mollerup explains in his book Collapsibles.
*Collapsibility per se is never the purpose function of a tool. It is always a support function. That a tool is collapsible may be very useful or even necessary. If an umbrella didn't fold away, it might seem more convenient to risk getting wet. But still the prime reason we need a tool is its purpose function: a knife to cut with, a chair to sit on… (20). *
This rule will apply to my product. Its purpose function is to hold as many bicycles as possible with strength and durability per its allotted space. However its support function is to collapse away saving space for storage and making it easier for transport.