Friday, November 16, 2018

New Bike Parking Standards Could be Improved and Strengthened

On Tuesday the 20th the Planning Commission will hold a Work Session on bike parking (agenda here). There are some good things in the proposal, but it's still weaker and less comprehensive than what was recommended in 2011 as part of Bike and Walk Salem.

Racks to Avoid - via a common industry guide
Too often it's a struggle to get basic bike parking at Salem buildings and businesses. It's an afterthought.

There's no bike parking at the main entry for the CCBI
At the Chemeketa Center for Business and Industry, despite being a school facility, they installed bike parking off the back car storage lot and by a secondary entry. It clearly violates code, but was allowed anyway.

The standard (old and new) is supposed to be within 50 feet

At the Lord & Schriver Gaeity Hollow home and garden, the Conservancy disappears the bike parking regularly, and most often when you walk by on Mission Street you can't see it. They used flimsy, portable "wheel bender" racks, take them out most of the time, and skirt the requirements. It's a Potemkin installation.

At the McGilchrist renovation, the racks are too close together.

Park Front: A little close to the wall
At Park Front the staple racks are a little snug to the wall and don't really have enough clearance for a wheel so you can lock to the frame. (24" minimum is recommended, and 36" is better.)

At the new Starbucks downtown (May 2017)
There's the same problem with clearance at the new Starbucks. (And what about the lawn-mower engine on the motor bike?)

At new building after new building, and remodel after remodel, there is substandard bike parking. There just aren't very many good installations around town. Bad bike parking may not be a primary decision about making a bike trip - though sometimes it is - but it's an important secondary consideration. Routinely we slight trip-end facilities and provisions, and this degrades our interest to make bike trips instead of car trips. The discouragement posed by bad bike parking adds up.

LifeSource in 2009
LifeSource might have the best instance in town. It's covered, it has a good rack, and it's visible. This really should be our standard.

It's taken from 2011 to now for a partial set of code bits
Back in 2011, Bike and Walk Salem recommended a suite of changes to code.

The recommendations at the Planning Commission are a subset of them, and there are still others to implement. There does not seem to be a Staff Report or other discussion that relates the current proposal to the memo from 2011 and to any changed conditions. So it's hard to say why some changes are proposed and others deferred or ignored.

50% reduction in bike parking for schools
One important set of changes involves schools. When the School District was planning Battlecreek School, they successfully argued for a great reduction in bike parking requirements. In the 2011 memo they also noted that the prevailing standards sometimes called for too much bike parking. So maybe a correction does need to be made.

But back in 2011 they also called for "long term" parking, which would offer covered parking for at least 25% of the total (50% of 50%). The current proposal does away with this. On the surface it looks more responsive to School District complaints than to programming that will encourage a reversion to more students biking. The proposal does not look like it aligns with any Safe Routes to Schools effort.

In 2011: 2 and 4 spots per classroom,
50/50 split on short/long term

In 2011: More on design and on short/long-term standards
Just in general, the whole thing should be beefed up. Given current difficulties with meeting even existing standards, it might be a good idea for the City to include pictures, something like what the Association of Bicycle and Pedestrian Professionals uses:

Diagram for clearances

Rack styles to avoid - Don't spec these!
It's also interesting to compare with Portland's revision, which is in draft form and out for public comment right now. (Here's the project page also.)

The bike parking at the new Police Station is reasonable
So here are some questions and possible improvements for the City to consider:
  • Is the 50 feet requirement defined tightly enough? (At the Police Station, the City argued successfully for an exception for some of the parking, and it could be a useful test case.)
  • Is rack spacing defined correctly? Do we need more on tamper-resistant fasteners?
  • Why not more attention to covered bike parking?
  • What about indoor, residential bike parking? 
  • Do we need to start making provision for long-tails and other cargo bikes? What about scooters?
  • Can we do more to link improved bike parking to reductions in car parking requirements?
  • Have we defined things so wheel-benders are rightly excluded? Do we need pictures of bad bike racks and bad installations? 
  • Do building inspectors properly sign off on bike parking at final inspections? Do they need training on bike parking?
The Planning Commission meets at 5:30pm on Tuesday the 20th in Council Chambers at City Hall.

No comments: