This is a continuation of a contest I launched on Monday. We are asking people to send in copies of the letters they submit to public officials about the proposed bicycle parking code changes. Get all the details about the contest to win a free breakfast at our sponsor, The B Line.
I’ll post one of my favorite letters each day. So far I’ve had these people submit their letters:
- Dan M. 2 entries
- Janet M. 2 entries
- Marysue S. 2 entires
- Ezra R. 1 entry
- Aida A, 1 entry
- Frank T. 2 entries
- Matt Z. 2 entries
Please submit your letters to get entered into the contest.
Pima County’s bicycle and pedestrian program manager Matt Zoll sent me the letter he sent to city officials. Here is what he wrote:
Dear Mayor Walkup and Honorable Council Members,
I am writing as a citizen to request that Mayor and Council carefully consider the City Planning Commission recommendations to reduce the bike parking regulations for new developments. In fact, I would like to suggest that the City strengthen the code and development standards for bike parking, as well as improve the city inspection and compliance for new businesses, agencies, institutions, and multihousing projects.
As a bicyclist and a partner in private development projects myself, I recognize the value of bicycle transportation not only for promotion of individual health, conservation of resources and improvement of the environment, but also as an opportunity for businesses and residential multihousing developments to improve their revenues and attractiveness to their customers.
What many businesses and developers may not realize is the purchasing power of bicyclists. Many cyclists have high disposable income. People who bicycle and perhaps are able to avoid having to own an extra car for their family can have substantial extra cash per year available for purchases of products and services and to go toward higher mortgages or rents. According to AAA, the average cost of owning and operating an average mid-size motor vehicle is now over $8,000 per year. If a person is able to avoid having to have an extra car for the family, that $8,000 per year can have a strong impact in other areas of the economy.
Also, although a business may only see a cyclist come in for a few small purchases when they visit by bike, if those bicycle customers are treated well they will return by vehicle when necessary for larger purchases. Turning away a bicyclist from a business due to poor bike parking provisions or none at all can mean turning away a good customer entirely.
What business would turn down the opportunity to market to those people who have that much more disposable income to spend? As a landowner and co-developer of a mixed-use housing, school facilities, businesses, and government offices project, I recognize the inherent health and transportation values of bicycling but especially recognize the bottom line in attracting and retaining good customers. At a cost of less than $100 per short-term bike rack parking space installed, I see this as an incredibly cost-effective way to appreciate and serve our paying customers.
Bicycle parking is also critical of course for those in society who rely on their bicycles for most if not all of their transportation. For low-income individuals, students, and others dependent on their bicycles, the “end of trip” facility provided by good quality, well-located bike parking is absolutely essential. Because of poor parking site locations and low security provisions, once that person has a bicycle stolen they have just lost a great deal of their freedom of movement, means to get to work or class, and they may not be able to replace the bicycle for quite some time.
In short, I would like to suggest the following:
• Maintain the existing 50-foot maximum bike parking distance from entrances. The proposed 75-foot distance is substandard for users and results in greater potential for bike theft regardless of security cameras. The cameras rarely deter theft and there is no legal mechanism for follow-up by TPD to try to apprehend the thieves.
• For strip malls and other common-wall building developments such as office complexes, ensure there is sufficient bike parking across the front of the mall or development in conveniently-spaced locations (please see attached photos).
• Increase inspections by City staff and ensure compliance by new developments with the bike parking requirements, including number and location of racks.
• Permit long-term (bike locker) parking to also be provided near entrances. Consider reasonable revisions to long-term parking requirements to help affordability by developers – some businesses have been required to have excessive long-term parking because of existing code.
• Perform a utilization analysis of long-term bicycle parking facilities in the region. As can be seen in the attached photos, there is bike locker parking required of businesses that is going to waste and is extremely expensive to purchase and install. Code revision should consider this burden.
As you may know, our region is designated a Gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. If the Planning Commission recommendations are approved, we may be jeopardizing this award and could possibly be downgraded, plus it would prevent us from ever becoming a Platinum Bicycle Friendly Community. Please help us ensure we maintain our Bicycle Friendly Community status and in fact improve upon it to become Platinum.
Thank you for your consideration of these recommendations. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.