Shifting gears on bike space

No sooner did we learn that Parking Lot #5 will continue to serve our automobile parking needs for at least another three months than the problem of bicycle parking appears on the Town Council agenda. At its upcoming business meeting Wednesday night, council members will discuss proposed changes to the number of bicycle parking spaces around town.

Three years ago, in June 2007, council enacted vehicle and bicycle parking space requirements now a part of the Land Use Management Ordinance, and asked that the bike parking requirements be reviewed by the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board and the Transportation Board. In September of the following year, the boards recommended an increase in the number of bike parking spaces for commercial areas. While well-intended, they seemed somewhat unrealistic. For instance, the number of required bike spaces at University Mall increased from 170 to 344 at a time when the mall would have felt lucky to have 344 shoppers in total at one time, regardless of how they got there.

Some people thought the new requirements stepped over the line of optimistically preparing for a lifestyle change into clutter. Picture the 109 bike spaces required for Lowe’s Home Improvement turning the parking lot into a park-and-ride lot for bikes.

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board, Transportation Board and Planning Board return to council on Wednesday with new recommendations for bike parking, this time addressing requirements for multi-family residential buildings.

Currently, LUMO requires one bike space per six residential units. The Transportation Board recommends one space per three units. The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board and the Planning Board push for one space per two units. The staff preliminary recommendation split the difference between existing and recommended spaces and backs one space per four units, expecting that most bikers will take their bikes inside their apartments overnight, rather than keep them chained outside.

The staff also recommends a drastic reduction in the number of bike spaces for commercial areas. Those 344 bike spaces at U-Mall would be pared to 43. And Lowe’s would cut its 170 bike spaces to 14, a more realistic number of people who would shop for lumber, plants, toilet seats and fluorescent bulbs by bicycle.
– Nancy Oates

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  1. Jason Baker

     /  June 14, 2010

    For the record, I’ve never bought a toilet seat, but I have bought lumber, plants, and (compact) fluorescent bulbs on shopping trips taken on my bike. Lumber can be a challenge, but after watching Cycle9 move 400+ pounds of bananas on a bike last month, I feel like it would be silly to complain about a few boards.

  2. js

     /  June 14, 2010

    It should be based on the type of business. I ride my bike almost everywhere, but Lowes is on the list of places I drive to, for a number of reasons. For example WSM / Carr Mill Mall (especially Harris Teeter) sorely need more bike parking. Food Lion at Jones Ferry/54 needs more bike parking. RDU Airport could use a couple spots at each terminal (yes I rode a bike there once to catch a plane, and no, there’s no real bike parking place at all.)

    Multi-family residential units should be required to have covered bike parking, the only example I can think of is the one at Pacifica in carrboro. Uncovered bike parking only really works for places that you would leave your bike in decent weather ie. temporarily – stores, libraries and whatnot. Uncovered bike parking at a residency is like having to park your convertible car in the apartment parking lot with the top down regardless of weather.

  3. Frank

     /  June 14, 2010

    Why can’t we just let supply and demand take care of it? If people want to bike to a business, but that business has nowhere to put your bike, then that business loses money. If it’s a benefit for renters as far as housing goes, then people will install them. I don’t see any point to having the government involved in any bike racks except what’s on government property. It’s not a safety issue, and in reality, it’s not even a social issue. Installing bike racks everywhere doesn’t necessarily mean that somebody is going to ride to/from that place.

  4. Bill

     /  June 14, 2010

    Oh, Frank! Quit being so logical. This is about forcing people to ride bikes, don’t ya get it?

  5. Nancy Oates

     /  June 15, 2010

    Yesterday at U-Mall Harris Teeter, I saw a man wheeling his bike through the store (was that you, Jason?). I’m certain there are bike racks at HT, but maybe he didn’t have a lock with him. The interesting thing is that no one shot him dirty looks or even seemed to pay much attention. It buoyed my spirits about the tolerance of Chapel Hill residents, or at least that faction of HT shoppers.

  6. Geoff Green

     /  June 17, 2010

    Frank, would you recommend getting rid of automobile parking requirements altogether as well? Same logic would apply.