Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Planning Commission Approves Reduction in Elementary School Bike Parking

Last night the Planning Commission looked at plans for the proposed Battlecreek Elementary School, to be built on the former site of the Battlecreek Golf Course.

The Commission approved a request to adjust the amount of bike parking.

According to the District:
The proposed elementary school building will contain 27 classrooms...Pursuant to SRC 133.110(a) [and Table 133-1]...the District's facility would be required to provide 192 parking spaces.

The nature of the development and the reality of actual bicycle use warrant a deviation from the minimum bicycle parking requirement of the zoning code in this case....

In an earlier case this year, School District used bike parking counts to establish that the average bike daily parking volume at Salem-Keizer elementary schools was 13 and that the maximum number was 40. So they suggest that an increase of 50% over the maximum and 360% over the average is sufficient.

We don't know when the counts were taken - if they were winter counts and therefore suppressed or spring counts in fair weather. But perhaps this is not important.

Bike parking at Salem schools isn't always inviting: Because it is not fenced or secure, it is not sheltered from the elements, and it uses non-recommended racking systems, we should not be surprised that the parking is little used. The bikes rust in the rain, kids get wet and cold loading and unloading, and parents may justifiably worry about theft.

Moreover, because the schools lack a robust set of Safe Routes, many parents do not feel confident sending their children to school on bike.

Given the present state of bicycling in Salem, the school district's stance on 192 spaces is reasonable.* Much more needs to be done to encourage bicycling, and the mere existence of an extra 132 spaces will not by itself be enough. Perhaps as part of the TSP and Safe Routes planning efforts, the project partners can propose a more realistic and improved bike parking code.

In the meantime, instead of taking a large and unattractive bike parking installation and simply making it smaller, the school district should consider trading quantity for quality, and making a very attractive and functional 60 space installation. It would be sheltered, secure, and connect easily to the sidewalk system surrounding the school.

*The disparity in required parking warrants further inquiry. It seems this school requirement is excessive - and yet the Chemeketa Center for Business and Industry has only a teensy, tiny rack! The zoning code's requirements seem very uneven at the moment.

1 comment:

Walker said...

Not only is the Chemeketa CBI rack totally unsat, but it's also impossible to get to when a big behemoth SUV (but I repeat myself) is coming out of the adjacent lot. The other day I was riding my bike down Union to go to CCBI and, as I approached it, found an SUV nosing out of that driveway, which totally blocked it and also kept me from going onto the sidewalk. I had to go past the driveway, stop in the road next to traffic, and pull my bike up over the curb to go back to that stupid rack.

You'd think with such disdain for bus riders they'd at least show some consideration for bicyclists. ;^)