Bike Friendly Airports – 7 Essential Elements

bike friendly airports

As someone who travels with a bike, these are some things that a bike friendly airport needs to have.

1. A bike box exchange.

If people are going to ride and fly (ride to the airport and then fly with their bike), the airport needs to have a bike box exchange – you leave your cardboard box and then get another when you arrive back at the airport for your return flight.

As bike friendly as Portland is, they don’t have this.

Finding a bike box can be a major mission. The last thing cyclists want to do is have to find one for their outboard journey and attempt to hunt down another one while on vacation.

2. A pedal wrench available for borrowing.

You need to remove the pedals when you fly with your bike. To get them on and off, you need a pedal wrench. Pedal wrenches are effing huge and heavy. They’re even larger than a normal adjustable wrench. If you’re cycling you don’t want to pack one.

It would be so easy for at least one airport information counter to have a pedal wrench available to borrow. It’s only a 1 minute job so it could easily be done in view of the agent. Portland airport has a bike assembly/disassembly station.

3. Bike friendly public transport to/from the airport.

Some distances are too big to bike so people need to be able to take their bike on airport mass transit. Also, cyclists need a safe path to the mass transit and between the terminals.

4. A safe place to lock your bike if you’re riding to the airport but not flying with your bike.

When people want to bike to/from the airport, they don’t always want to fly with their bike. They need to be able to lock it up safely.

5. Cardboard bike boxes available for purchase at the airport.

Sometimes you want to ride to the airport and box your bike at the airport. I asked customer service if Portland airport had boxes available for purchase anywhere at the airport and they said no. This seems bizarre. Typical price at other airports is around $10-15.

6. Affordable luggage storage.

People traveling by bike sometimes have to bring things along that they can’t carry while cycling e.g., people who have folding bikes need to do something with the case.

7. Healthy food available for purchase.

If you’re riding away from the airport it helps to be able to buy something nutritious, affordable and non-plastic.

Why airports need to be bike friendly.

Airports need to become bike friendly if more people are going to switch to a bike as their primary source of transportation.

Bikes are great for layovers if you can figure out (1) how to store your bike box at the airport, (2) how to not be charged twice by the airline for checking your bike on two flight segments, and (3) how to ride out of the airport without needing to ride on a freeway.

Many people don’t need a car on a day to day basis but the thing that stops them giving up their car in favor of a bike only is things like airport trips.

How bike friendly is your home airport? How many of these 7 boxes does it tick?


  1. //

    I had no idea that airports could even be bike friendly! In Spain, I’ve found that most airports lie so far outside the city center and off major highways, and even in Seville, the only where to get there on public transportation is by an overpriced bus that’s always packed. The city itself is extremely bike friendly because it’s flat and we’ve got miles of bike lanes…but here’s something to strive for!

  2. //

    Really interested to read this. I’ve never traveled with a bike but I can see how challenging and difficult it might be — besides the extra luggage costs. I can’t actually recall ever seeing someone ride a bike to some of the bigger airports. Also don’t think it’d be very feasible because what if you have more luggage than just a small backpack?

  3. //

    People bike around the world Adam! Bike camping is a big thing so people are used to hauling gear on their bikes. :)

  4. //

    Kate, these are great tips. I don’t travel with a bike, but it’s a good reminder to me to consider the little things that ARE important to my needs when I travel. This is an excellent resource!

  5. //

    Those are great ideas! Personally, I love that more and more cities are offering bike sharing programs. While I’m not eager to travel with a bike, it’s good to know that it’s getting easier to bike wherever you go.

  6. //

    Never would have thought about traveling with a bike either. I usually just end up renting one for day trips.

  7. //

    Love biking and would take my bike if possible. Now I know how!

  8. //

    This was really enlightening, as I’ve never flown with a bike. Some great ideas here!

  9. //

    I’ve never traveled with a bike either, but it might be a great idea. You’d have guaranteed affordable and environmentally friendly transportation.

  10. //

    I had the pleasure of meeting with a RTW traveller who did over 30,000 miles on his bike and he said one of the major pains was the airport, but what kept his spirits high was seeing the looks on peoples faces when he would walk into the bathroom covered in dirt, grime and sweat to have a wash; it was enough to make him laugh everything else away.

  11. //

    I don’t travel with a bike either… so none of this occurred to me. Some great ideas there though! Elle x

  12. //

    There are some people who travel by bike everywhere… eg Family on Bikes. Not sure how they got their bikes all the way back from Argentina?

  13. //

    Never thought of this before. I live too far away from LAX to bike there with 50 pounds of luggage anyway. Interesting post!

  14. //

    You insights make so much sense. People aren’t going to switch methods of transportation if it is hard. It seems like many of your ideas would be easy to implement.

  15. //

    I’ve never traveled with a bike before, but I wouldn’t mind trying at some point. I didn’t realize how difficult and challenge it can be at times.

  16. //

    never never imagined that it could be so simple. i dream of biking through europe in a few years, once the kids get a bit older, and one day, just kobi and i will do. great article. thank you

  17. //

    never never imagined that it could be so simple. i dream of biking through europe in a few years, once the kids get a bit older, and one day, just kobi and i will do. great article. thank you

  18. //

    I’d love to travel with a folding bike!

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