Bicycle parking in Tucson took a turn for the worse last week when the City of Tucson’s planning commission passed several motions that weakened the parking regulations for new developments.

During their Jan. 5 meeting, the planning commission, which regulates rules for developers, passed five motions related to bicycle parking. According to Tom Thivener, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian program manager, those motions will significantly affect the number and location of bicycle parking spots for new development.

Thivener said his department went in with a plan that would require more parking spaces than are currently required, but because of the changes will — in many instances — result in fewer. The changes are being forwarded to the Mayor and city council for final approval in February,

For example, Thivener said under the old rules, the retail space that houses Rubio’s and Starbucks in the El Con Mall parking lot required the developers to add 2.5 bicycle parking spaces, which was rounded up to three.

Parking spaces are calculated based on the square footage of the retail space and under the changed rules,the Rubio’s complex would only be required to have one space.

The planning commission also said the standard bike parking distance should be 50 feet away unless additional security measures are taken, in which case the parking could be 75 feet away. The additional security measures include being monitored by a security camera, being located within 100 feet of an attendant or security guard or being located within a fenced-in area.

Many new businesses have security cameras, making it easier to get around the 50-foot rule.

The bicycle parking guidelines released by the  Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Planners says parking located more than 50 feet away is considered substandard. And Thivener said all the cities designated as platinum by the League of American Bicyclists require the parking to be located no more than 50 feet away.

Ian Johnson, a Tucson bicycle advocate and chair of the Bicycle Advisory Committee’s downtown subcommittee, said a lack of good bicycle parking keeps people from riding their bikes.

“If they are worried about their bikes getting stolen, if they are worried about having to lock up in a dark area far away from the store front, they are not going to ride their bike,” Johnson said.

Emily Yetman, founder of Living Streets Alliance, said it is also important to think about women who might be riding their bikes.

“Think about a mom with a kid on the back having to park out by the dumpster at night, alone,” Yetman said. “That can be a huge deterrent.”

Johnson said putting the parking in a place that isn’t convenient for cyclists encourages them to lock up to signs, trees and other objects near the entrance of the store. He said by providing good parking close to entrance, the developers get to have more say in where cyclists end up parking.

“More importantly having good, safe and convenient bike facilities shows that the city and the developers believe biking is a legitimate form of transportation,” Johnson said. “When you put it out by the dumpsters, far away in the dark around the corner you are showing you are only putting it there because you have to. If we truly want to be a bike-friendly city, I think we have to show through our policies that we not only think biking is legal, but that we want to encourage it.”

Yetman said Living Streets Alliance is going to be mobilizing to encourage the council to vote against the code because of the changes to the bicycle parking regulation.

“Now would be a great time for people to get to know their council people,” Johnson said. “It is one of our few direct opportunities to influence policies.”

Thivener will be presenting the recent changes to the Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee at the monthly meeting which was moved to this Wednesday because of last week’s memorial for the shooting victims. The meeting will be held at the ParkWise Conference Room, at 110 E. Pennington, in downtown Tucson. The meeting starts at 6 p.m.

9 thoughts on “New rules require less bike parking; can be placed further away”
  1. I am bike only (my wife has the car) so if I am going to frequent an establishment, it better have a bike rack.

    I would really expect Rubio’s and Starbucks to have adequate bike parking for their own economic benefit.

    Also, that’s my orange bike in the pic. I’m famous!

  2. If I owned a retail store or restuarant I’d have a bike rack 15 feet from the front door. I honestly believe it would increase my overall income.

  3. This city talks the talk about supporting alternative transportation but can’t seem to bring itself to walk the walk (ride the ride?) And I mean encouraging new riders.
    All this hub-bub – would it have been better to leave things the way they were?
    After about a year-and-a-half we’ve got what…three bike corrals?
    Wonder why more people are not enthusiastic about participation in the BAC?
    Still the best thing about riding in Tucson is the weather. Thank all things mighty and powerful that the city can’t mess with that.

  4. Thought number one: I know they are probably valid sources, but, even according to your previous posting (i.e. bicycle wedding reception ride article), we know that Ian and Emily are married. I may have one issue with him being on a BAC subcommittee and the webmaster for Living Streets if they want to be a separate entity, but I feel like you may want to consider how using the two of them for quotes in the same article looks like, especially when it’s just for random comment. I honestly don’t know how exactly I feel about it.

    Two, this city is lucky because we have previously approved RTA funding for certain bike/ped projects. I wouldn’t be upset about not having more bike corrals right now considering the political and monetary climate. Things like bike boulevards are still under current construction. That being said, it’s kind of absurd to let this bike parking thing slide when it doesn’t cost tax payers/city/county a dime really. It’s just where you have to put your bike racks as a business. It’s really a shame that we didn’t get a 25 foot rule with more bike parking spots. In my opinion it would only help businesses.

  5. James, thanks for the feedback. I actually almost added that Ian and Emily were married to the story. In fact my wife (who is my copy editor) thought it should go in. I didn’t think it was important, because they are both cyclists and advocates.

    It sounds like I should have listened to my wife and added it to at least be as transparent as possible. Thanks again for the feedback.

  6. I’m curious to hear what the issue of a BAC member holding a day job is? Is it that you think BAC members can’t also be advocates? Half the BAC members have ties to organizations that work on bicycle issues in some form or another. Honestly, that helps inform the rest of the BAC members on what is happening out there, be it with Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists, Santa Cruz Valley Bicycle Advocacy Committee, the Greater Arizona Bicycling Association, BICAS, El Grupo, Cycling Clubs, or with Living Streets.

  7. Yeah, it’s an ordinance up before Mayor and Council next Tuesday:
    Married people can’t have more than one voice.
    Or was it no fewer than two unmarried people allowed in a single family dwelling.
    Oh, I know: No more than four bicycles can be carried on top of a sedan.

    The group of seriously interested and advocating cyclists is relatively small, I think. More people turn out for rides than meetings. It could be that the hard core riders think whatever the city manages to do is OK and that it can’t possibly screw things up bad enough to affect them.

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