Can You Put A Wheelchair On A Bike Rack?

Transporting a wheelchair poses a unique challenge, particularly when a bike rack is your sole option. The dilemma of whether a bike rack can be a suitable carrier for a wheelchair is not easily resolved. While it may seem feasible to repurpose a bike rack for this need, the suitability and safety of doing so warrant careful consideration.

As you delve into this subject, you may find that the answer is not so clear-cut. There are factors at play that go beyond a simple yes or no—such as the design of the bike rack, the dimensions and weight of the wheelchair, and the legalities or safety concerns involved.

To reach a definitive conclusion, it’s essential to explore various aspects, including the compatibility of the wheelchair with the bike rack, potential modifications that may be required, and the impact on the bike’s handling. This article aims to provide a comprehensive examination of these points to help you make an informed decision on whether you can—and should—use a bike rack to transport a wheelchair. Continue reading to uncover a thorough analysis tailored to address your queries.

Key Takeaways

Using a bike rack for a wheelchair is technically possible but not recommended due to safety and practicality concerns.
Wheelchairs may exceed the weight limit of bike racks, posing a risk of damage. This issue is particularly severe with electric wheelchairs, which are bulkier and heavier.
Imbalanced weight distribution caused by the heavier weight of wheelchairs compared to bicycles can lead to vehicle damage and unsafe driving conditions.
Transporting a wheelchair on a bike rack requires slower driving speeds to avoid accidents, which can be inconvenient, especially in emergencies.
There is a high risk of damaging both the transporting vehicle and the wheelchair, especially on uneven surfaces.
Using a bike rack for a wheelchair also carries the risk of damaging other vehicles, particularly if the wheelchair is not securely mounted or if the bike rack fails under the weight.

Can You Use A Bike Rack for a Wheelchair?

No, you can’t use a bike rack for a wheelchair. Actually, rather than can’t, a better word would be you should not.

As previously said, using a bike rack to transport a wheelchair sounds somewhat plausible. And, you should be able to do it too; after all, many bike racks have designs that allow them to be used for mounting wheelchairs.

But, there is a problem you will face if you try to do so. More often than not, the wheelchair will be too heavy for the bike rack to carry. Although there are exceptions, you must always be wary of how much weight the rack can handle and whether the wheelchair can be securely attached to the bike rack.

So, while you can use a bike rack for a wheelchair, it is not recommended. You definitely should not do it if you have access to other options.

Are Bike Racks Safe For Wheelchairs?

Here is the thing: bike and wheelchair racks mostly have similar designs. So, you could say that wheelchairs can be put on bike racks. However, how safe is it?

To get a little technical, generally, bike racks can take on about 50-80lbs, depending on their brand and durability. On the other hand, a wheelchair can weigh anywhere between 15-60lbs; it depends on whether you have the lightweight, standard, or heavy-duty one.

Now, if you mount a wheelchair of 60lbs on a bike rack that can handle only 50lbs, you will have an issue. But, that will not even be the only issue you will likely have.

Another issue you might face is about the weight and speed. A bike rack does not distribute the weight of a wheelchair the way it does on a bicycle. You can risk harming your car and your wheelchair if you go on a bumpy ride. Not to mention, you will have to drive slowly and carefully with a wheelchair at the back or roof of your car; slower than you would have to with a wheelchair rack because of the weight distribution.

Related reading: How Fast Can You Go With A Bike Rack?

Can You Use A Bike Rack for an Electric Wheelchair?

No, you can’t use a bike rack for an electric wheelchair. Why is that, you ask? Mostly because wheelchairs are much bulkier than regular wheelchairs. Not only are they bigger, causing your transporting vehicle to be thrown off balance, but they are also heavier, making driving dangerous. Additionally, most electric wheelchairs probably will not even fit the bike rack, which could risk unnecessary damage.

Getting a wheelchair rack would be much easier than using a bike rack. It will avoid all the problems if you use a bike rack as a replacement.

4 Reasons You Should Not Carry A Wheelchair On The Bike Rack

Numerous problems could arise when trying to carry a wheelchair on a bike rack. Hence, professionals recommend that you do not do so.

While you can break a rule or two when you are in a real pinch, you should avoid using a bike rack to transport your wheelchair.

Imbalanced Weight Distribution

You should consider how the weight of the wheelchair can affect your bike rack and vehicle. Since most wheelchairs are heavier than bicycles, there is a chance that the rack can’t handle the weight of the wheelchair you want to carry. This could cause damage to your bike rack and even put a scratch or dent on the vehicle.

Plus, the weight distribution itself could affect your driving. Exceptionally bumpy rides could harm the wheelchair and anything it is attached to. This means that you will have to drive extra slowly, which is a huge inconvenience when you are in a hurry.

Lower Driving Speed

As mentioned, using a bike rack to carry a wheelchair can require driving slower than usual. This is necessary to avoid accidents of any sort. However, the lessened speed could get you into trouble when you are in a rush.

Perhaps you need to attend to an emergency with your wheelchair. Having it on a bike rack rather than inside the car or on a wheelchair rack would just make the entire ride go painstakingly slow!

Risk of Damage To Your Vehicle

Imagine this: you just went over a speed bump and heard a thud! What now? What is the first thought that comes to your head?

It’s concerned about whether your car is okay, right? This concern could become a daily occurrence with a bike rack as your wheelchair rack. Since neither the wheelchair nor the car is inexpensive, purchasing a wheelchair rack to transport wheelchairs is best.

Risk Damage To Other Vehicles

Now, what is worse than scratching or denting your vehicle? Scratching or denting other’s vehicles!

At least if you are harming your vehicle, you are the only one to blame. However, bearing the guilt and damage costs for someone else’s vehicle is not a responsibility you want.

Whether you are mounting your wheelchair onto another person’s bike rack and car or mounting it on your vehicle without taking the required safety measures, you will risk an accident. The best way to avoid such hazards is to get a wheelchair rack!

Are All Bike Racks Bad For Carrying A Wheelchair?

More often than not, bike racks are a terrible option for carrying a wheelchair. However, you might be wondering why that is so. So, here are some of the styles of bike racks you can find and how they are wrong as wheelchair racks.

Roof Rack

With rooftop bike racks, you must be careful about the weight limit. This is because if you mount a wheelchair that is too heavy, the imbalance weight might cause it o fall over, hurting your car, others’ cars, or maybe even passersby in the process!

Moreover, having a wheelchair on a bike rack on the roof of your car would mean that it will be less accessible to you. You will get a workout while putting it up there and taking it down, and your vehicle will not even fit garages that do not have high roofs!

Hitch Rack

Hitch racks are the most popular method of carrying bikes and wheelchairs. But, when you are trying to carry the wheelchair on a hitch bike rack, you will need to remember that these racks are easy to steal from! Since the wheelchair you will have might have issues being completely secure, it might get stolen right under your nose.

Also, having something extended out of your car always puts it at more risk of rear-end accidents. If your wheelchair becomes the bearer of the blow, it could cause severe damage.

Trunk Rack

While trunk racks are cheap, they do not work well with wheelchairs. They are great if you only use them once. However, the risk of the wheelchair not being secured well enough and falling off always remains. Also, you will lose access to the trunk and risk getting the paint scratched up, which is not worth the cost-effectiveness.

Will You Get Fined For Carrying A Wheelchair On The Bike Rack?

No, you likely will not get fined for carrying a wheelchair on a bike rack.

However, rather than getting in trouble for what you mount your wheelchair on, you could get into trouble for how you mount it.

A lot of American state laws demand that the license plate of your vehicle remains unobstructed. So, you need to ensure that the wheelchair you are mounting on your bike rack is mounted in a way that does not block the license plate.

Another thing that you need to be mindful of is that you will have an object extending out of the vehicle you are driving. Using cautionary flags or stickers to warn other drivers is advised. And you need to remember that you have an extension to your car, and you will need to drive safely to avoid harming others around you.

Better Ways To Carry A Wheelchair

As you might have realized by now, there are much better ways of carrying and transporting wheelchairs than having them mounted on bike racks. Here are a few other ways you can carry your wheelchair.

In A Car

Out of the numerous ways of carrying your wheelchair, the simplest one is putting it in your car. Not only will it keep the wheelchair safe, but it will also stop accidents from occurring. You will not have to worry about other cars bumping into your vehicle after not noticing a bike rack anymore.

However, carrying your wheelchair in your car can be an issue for those who do not have vehicles that can accommodate the size of the wheelchairs. It is for such cases that other options exist!

On Wheelchair Rack

If your car’s interior does not accommodate your wheelchair, you can always carry it outside. You should be good to go if you maintain the safety protocols.

You could carry it at the top of your car or mount it to the bumper. Carrying it in a hitch rack or using a pickup truck is an excellent option for transporting your wheelchair.

Here are the four ways you can carry your wheelchair on a wheelchair rack outside your car:

  • Automatic Car-Top Carriers
  • Bumper Mounted Carriers
  • Hitch-Mounted Carriers
  • Pickup Truck Carriers

Related reading: Locks For Car Bike Rack

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the risks of using a bike rack to transport a wheelchair?

Using a bike rack for a wheelchair poses several risks including exceeding the weight limit of the rack, imbalanced weight distribution, potential vehicle damage, slower driving speeds, and the possibility of damaging other vehicles. These risks are amplified with electric wheelchairs due to their increased size and weight.


Transporting a wheelchair using a bike rack might seem like a clever hack at first glance, but as we’ve explored, it’s far from ideal. While bike racks can theoretically hold a wheelchair, the practicalities often spell trouble. The risk of imbalanced weight distribution and the potential for damage to both the wheelchair and the vehicle are significant concerns. These issues are amplified when considering electric wheelchairs, which are typically bulkier and heavier.

In my experience, the key to safe and efficient transportation lies in using the right tools for the job. Just like you wouldn’t use a road bike for a rugged mountain trail, using a bike rack for a wheelchair stretches its intended purpose, often leading to more problems than solutions. The reduced driving speed and increased risk of accidents, not to mention the potential legal implications, are hurdles that can easily be avoided.

The takeaway here is clear: invest in a dedicated wheelchair rack. This decision not only ensures safety and convenience but also peace of mind. As an avid cyclist and a stickler for safety, I strongly advise against the temptation of makeshift solutions in this context. Sometimes the simplest solution is to use the equipment designed for the task at hand. In the end, safety, efficiency, and peace of mind are worth the investment.

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