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Thread: Bicycle/transit improvements in lieu of parking?

  1. #1
    Jun 2004

    Bicycle/transit improvements in lieu of parking?

    I'm looking at including bicycle parking in our zoning ordinance, and most of the ordinances I've seen have been of the form "x bike racks/lockers per y car parking spaces".

    What I'm thinking of is building on our existing "payment in lieu of parking" option for the downtown area, and allowing developers (throughout the municipality) to replace some of the required parking with on-site/near-site bicycle or transit improvements. That is, at the discretion of the Planning Commission (or City Planner, for site plans that don't need to go to the PC), up to x% of the minimum parking requirement may be waived upon the provision of alternative transportation amenities.

    These could include, for example:
    * bike racks or lockers (with some standards noted as to location, number, etc)
    * benches, bus shelters, or landing pads at an existing transit stop (on the same block, within x feet, ...?), with these improvements to meet the standards of the transit authority

    My hope is that such a system would provide more context-appropriate improvements than just tossing up a bike rack on every lot, and, by allowing it as a replacement to some parking, rather than an addition, would provide an effective incentive to developers to look at transportation to/from/within the site in a more comprehensive fashion. (yeah, wishful thinking.) For context, our municipality is mostly built-out, entirely walkable/bikeable, has decent transit service, and developers have problems meeting the parking requirements on basically every single site, due to lot size issues.

    Has anyone encountered such a "parking replacement" mechanism? What else could be considered an appropriate "replacement" improvement? (I'm leaning towards exterior improvements that can potentially serve neighboring sites as well, rather than things like showers, but I'm open to suggestion.) Are there glaring problems with this idea?

  2. #2

    Jul 2006
    Calgary, AB
    This sounds good, but I'd want to make sure that it would not create problems. If you can be sure that the mode split is there to support a reduction in parking, then go for it. If not, the people who continue to drive will have to park elsewhere, either illegally, or by hogging parking meters etc. preventing visitors or shoppers from finding parking.

    If you can find developers who will buy into this and encourage their tenants to do the right thing, this will work, but if not, you will have problems.

    That's not to say that tightening parking requirements can't be done; some people will grumble as they feel entitled to parking which is not the same thing as having no alternate commuting options. Some people can shift what mode they use, some cannot.

    Something else to look at is sharing parking between developments and non-concurrent uses.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    May 2005
    New Town
    Here are the kinds of reduction incentives Albuquerque provides. We do not have anything for bicycles, but there is some related to transit and shred use parking (staggering use of common lots when businesses have non-conflicting peak use hours). There are also reductions allowed if there is on-street parking where your property abuts available street parking.

    Hope this helps.

    (6) Parking Reductions:

    (a) Transit Reductions:

    1. The parking requirement of a building or use shall be reduced 10% if it is within 300 feet of a regular Albuquerque Transit System route.

    2. The parking requirement of a building or use shall be reduced an additional 5% for premises which provide, at the owner's cost, transit rider shelters of a type and location acceptable to the City.

    3. The parking requirement of a building or use shall be reduced an additional 5% for premises of five acres or more which provide, at the owner's cost, transit pull-offs of a type and location acceptable to the City.

    (b) Mixed Use Shared Parking Reductions:

    1.In situations where a mix of uses creates staggered peak periods of parking demand, shared parking calculations can be made to reduce the total amount of required parking. All non-residential uses may share parking areas. In no case shall shared parking include the parking required for residential uses.

    (d) On-Street Parking Credit.

    1. Where parking spaces are provided on a public street and abut the property, one half of the parking may be counted toward the off-street parking requirement of a building or use on such property provided the on-street parking spaces are approved by the Traffic Engineer, in conjunction with a site plan approval for off-street parking.
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  4. #4
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    I'm a transportation planner, so I am not going to even touch ordinance side of the equation. Keep in mind that you are in Michigan. Cold is a huge deterrent to using bicycle as a reular mode five to six months out of the year. Transit only carries about one percent of the comutter traffic. Most bicycling takes place when parking demand is considered an off-peak season. This could make is hard to sell your proposal. For example, there is less demand for parking in the summer as folks are typically vacationing or actually walking.

    That being said, your theories certainly warrant some investigation. Most of the larger transit agencies already have bike racks on their vehicles. Therefore, bicycle storage racks or lockers should be placed near the final destination and not at the bus stop.

    All is not doom or gloom under this scenario though. Small changes could mean a lot as you are pretty much starting with a blank canvas in a State that is rapidly developing both regional and statewide bicycle pathways. Keep in mind that both of the State''s largest cities are curently developing plans to actually introduce better transit systems; this could be a major advantage to implementation.

  5. #5
    Jun 2004
    > Keep in mind that you are in Michigan.

    Well, yes, that's certainly a consideration - and I don't myself bike for the colder months, though I do know several in the region who do. (See, for example, Carfree Ann Arbor's tips on DIY studded bike tires, appropriate winter eye protection, splash guard, etc.

    I think that, in order for this to win support, I'd have to make the case that our existing ord. requires more parking than is actually needed, and present this as an alternative to just lowering the parking requirement - convince people that this isn't trading needed parking for fluffy hippie improvements, but instead getting something (non-car improvements) for nothing (reducing parking that we don't need anyway).
    Last edited by monkeyflower; 12 Apr 2007 at 9:13 AM. Reason: url fix

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