City Council Unanimously Passes Bike Parking Requirement Ordinance

March, 18 2010

Unanimous vote and productive discussion marked today’s City Council Meeting

brick lock

We hope that locking to cinder blocks will be a thing of the past now that the Bike Parking Ordinance passed City Council today.  We took this photo on our way to lunch, only moments after the unanimous vote.

On the heels of the brand new bicycle-friendly policy statement from the US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Pittsburgh City Council unanimously voted to include bicycle parking requirements in the zoning code when they passed the much anticipated Bicycle Parking Ordinance.  This ordinance is an amendment to the zoning code that requires all new and “change-in-use” buildings to install bicycle parking, just like they already must do for cars.  There is also an incentive component to the ordinance, whereby a developer can replace up to 30% of their car parking requirement with bicycle parking.  The zoning book has been regulating car parking for years, and even had a page for bike parking, however this page was blank.  It will now be a thing of the past to roll up to a shiny new building and have nowhere to park your bicycle.

We, at BikePGH, have been working for the past two years with the Mayor’s Bike/Ped Coordinator, Steve Patchan and Senior Planner, Corey Layman to use best practices from other cities and input from architects and developers in order to get this piece of code written.  These type of developments are in line with LaHood’s policy to “treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes” and is integral to continue on the path toward a green, sustainable, and active city.

The meeting started when Councilman Bruce Kraus invited the Bike/Ped Coordinator Steve Patchan, Zoning’s Corey Layman and Susan Tymoczko, and BikePGH’s Scott Bricker to the table to answer relevant questions.  Council asked informed questions, mostly around the optional trade for up to 30% of car spaces for bike spaces. They were concerned about “unintended consequences” in that developers may try to take advantage of this to save money, thereby putting a heavier parking burden on the surrounding community.  Mr. Layman explained that this clause will be used mostly by the smaller developers who are looking for flexibility when working on lots or buildings with a small footprint and small requirement.  The larger developments will be basing their parking requirements on market forces, so most likely won’t take the trade.

During the discussion of this bill, City Council made it clear that they were supportive of improving the state of cycling in Pittsburgh.  Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak brought up how there are many cyclists, even in her mountainous South Hills district, who will appreciate safe places to park, but the City “should also provide safe routes to get there.”  Since this new zoning ordinance only kicks in for new or “change-in-use” buildings, Councilman Doug Shields talked about how we as a City should go one step further and try to provide incentives to building and parking garage owners to retrofit their properties with bicycle parking.  He also started a conversation about providing on-street bicycle parking, or bike corrals, to help maintain the sidewalk thruway and to eliminate illegal car parking on corners.

Councilman Patrick Dowd connected the dots and discussed how this ordinance is just a piece of the broader concept of what “we really have to do” to turn Pittsburgh into a bicycle-friendly City.  He cited the four-E’s commitment from the City: Enforcement, Education, Economic incentives, and Engineering.  “Just look at the books…the City has priviledged the automobile…and did that work 100 years ago.”  He went on to say that “what we’re trying to accomplish is just that, but for the bicycle.”

Trees are the real winners after today’s unanimous Council vote in favor of the Bike Parking Ordinance

Councilman Bruce Kraus, who also had concerns about the swapping spaces, added that we should revisit this ordinance “next year to see how it’s working.”  Maybe by then, we’ll have to mandate even more bicycle parking.

We’d like to thank Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and his Bike/Ped Coordinator Steve Patchan, Planning Director Noor Ismail, Corey Layman, Susan Tymoczko, and Richard Meritzer from Planning, and most importantly YOU!

We galvanized hundreds of Pittsburgh cyclists to send emails, letters, and phone calls to Council to make sure that this ordinance passed.  Without you, the grassroots cyclists who are most affected by these developments, we couldn’t have passed the ordiance unanimously.

Bicycle Parking Resources:

  • To read a copy of the Bicycle Parking Ordinance, click here.
  • A great website that explains bicycle parking options, click here.

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