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.