This is what we’re trying to prevent. Fortunately, since this picture was taken, UPMC has installed bike racks to help remedy the bicycle parking situation for their employees. Thanks!
Important Zoning Code addition in the works – Read on for this exciting news
An important component of creating a bicycle-friendly, sustainable City also involves providing safe and secure bike parking. Just like automobile drivers, cyclists want to be able to store their vehicles in a place that will minimize theft and vandalism, yet still be convenient and accessible. One of the advantages of parking a bicycle (aside from it being FREE) is that bicycles don’t take up very much space, so it allows for parking in front of a business that you want to support, or your place of employment. Oftentimes, however, secure parking isn’t available or it’s full. When bike parking isn’t convenient or secure, it discourages people from riding. Well, we’re hoping to change that in the near future by making it safer and more convenient to ride your bicycle.
Over two years ago, at one of our many meetings with the City of Pittsburgh, we noticed that the Zoning Code had a page dedicated to Bike Parking. However, the page was blank. The automobile parking section has lots of rules and regulations requiring X number of spaces depending on the use, size, and occupancy of a building. Like many cities in the country, we thought it would be great if the City of Pittsburgh also had a set of parking requirements for bicycles, so that when a building was built or rehabbed to change the use (say residential to commercial for example), the design must include some bike racks. The City also thought this was a good idea, and tasked zoning specialist Corey Layman and the Bike/Ped Coordinator, Steve Patchan, to the task. Two years later, we’re preparing to formally present the ordinance to the Planning Commission, and ultimately to City Council for approval.
In the past few years, the necessity of this type of requirement has become painfully obvious. Several times, a new business or development has been built, opens up, and lo and behold, cyclists start showing up to buy things. Given that they weren’t provided with a place to put their bike, they start locking to any available sturdy item such as shopping cart corrals, signs, trees, or worse…they start complaining about it. We then receive frantic phone calls about what to do about the situation. Now at this point, adding bike racks is an additional cost to the project, as opposed to the cost to build. An additional $500 for bike racks once a business is open is very different than adding $500 to the cost of the overall build. Also, if architects plan for the bike parking, it can be placed in the most ideal locations, as opposed to wherever there happens to be enough space after the fact.
Steve Patchan and Corey Layman put a ton of research into what other cities have done, compiling the “best practices” from around the country, basically, including what works, and nixing what doesn’t. Diana Nelson Jones, of the Post-Gazette writes, “It’s a modest proposal – one space every 20,000 square feet – and flexible enough to allow the developer to put the spaces outside the development.” One other the main components to the proposed rules is to provide a monetary incentive for developers to provide bike parking in lieu of car parking (it’s a heck of a lot cheaper to provide a space for a bike than a car). Just two months ago, Philadelphia passed a similar ordinance in one of Mayor Nutter’s first acts after announcing his ambitious sustainability and greening initiatives. If Pittsburgh follows suit, we’ll also be ahead of the curve nationally.
Please keep following the development of this story
There will be a public comment period in the near future, as well as the opportunity to go to the Planning Commission meeting to express your support for more bike parking. We’ll let you know when this occurs because we’ll need lots of emails, letters, and testimonials from everyone.
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Not a member of Bike Pittsburgh? Join today! We need you to add your voice! Bike Pittsburgh works to protect cyclist’s rights and promote the vision of making Pittsburgh a safer and more enjoyable place to live and to ride. For more info, check out: www.bike-pgh.org/membership