Bike Parking Ordinance Sails Through Committee Despite Bike Clutter Distraction

Yesterday, the City Council Planning and Land Use Committee  directed city staff to draft a final ordinance to ammend the city’s parking ordinance to require more bicycle parking and provide incentives to increase bike parking beyond the minimums.   The Bike Parking ordinance was item #5 on yesterday’s agenda.

I see how this could be annoying to look at, but it's not illegal and the Bicycle Parking Ordinance is about reducing scenes such as this one. Photo:ehow

The current bicycle parking ordinance only applies to developments over 10,000 sq ft.  By eliminating this qualification new parking facilities will begin to sprout up throughout the city whenever new multi-family residential, commercial, and industrial developments are proposed.  Cycling advocates hope that more bicycle facilities will create a more visible and viable transportation alternative.

Alexis Lantz, programming director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, made the case for change simply, “The ordinance that currently exists has failed to provide adequate bicycle parking.”

The proposed ordinance also includes a swap of car parking for bicycle parking for both commercial and residential uses.  Up to 30% of auto parking can swapped for bicycle parking within a commercial nonresidential  project and 15% of auto parking can be swapped within a residential project that is near a major bus or transit station.  This could be particularly crucial for the transit oriented developments that pop up as a result of the new train lines that are coming online as a result of Measure R.

The ordinance also provides a mechanism to add more bike corrals to city streets.   These on-street public bicycle parking spaces offer an opportunity to provide ample bicycle parking without taking up pedestrian space on sidewalks. Bike corrals have been proven to increase bicycle usage in areas where they are installed, as they encourage residents to travel by bicycle around their neighborhoods to do their shopping and errands.  The corral at Cafe De Leche in Northeast L.A. was part of a pilot program that was succesful enough that the LADOT and City Planning are comfortable enough to let them flourish city-wide.

The change in the parking requirements is part of the planning changes required by the Bike Plan which was signed into law earlier this year.  While the Bike Plan was approved by the City Council and Mayor’s Office, but individual policy changes need to be voted on individually.  This is the first policy change included in the plan to get serious consideration from the Council.  Glenn Bailey, the Vice-Chair of the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee reported that the ordinance enjoyed the unanimous support of the city’s official Bicycle Advisory Committee.

None of these changes sparked much debate, in fact the only concern about the bike parking ordinance came from Studio City Neighborhood Council Member Barry Johnson who complained that bikes on the lawn of multi-family dwellings create clutter that is an eye sore for neighbors in single-family houses across the street who lived there for years. “Bike parking should not be allowed in the yards of the multi-family units…Adding clutter to the front yard is something we shouldn’t be doing.”

Councilman Paul Krekorian echoed Johnson’s concerns, and called for City Planning, who moved that City Staff report back on the issue of front lawn bicycle parking.  Let’s go easy on Krekorian, who  is representing his constituents and didn’t actually hold up the ordinance in any way, but let’s hope that city staff provides a concise and factual defense of locating bike parking in the front of multi-family dwellings or any other buildings.  For the sake of civility, let’s avoid pointing out that there are few things that provide as much clutter in a public space as free curbside parking for cars.

Whoops.

Putting bike parking in front of a building is often the place that makes the most sense from a safety standpoint.  The bikes are clearly visible making them harder to steal than a bike chained up in a dark corner in a garage.  Also, the cyclist doesn’t have to enter uncontrolled secluded places to lock up his or her bicycle.  Last, a parking lot is one of the most dangerous places to be a cyclist or pedestrian because drivers are often distracted and backing out without a clear line of site.

From a convenience standpoint, there is nothing more convenient than getting to park a bicycle by the front door of a building.  It creates a welcome place for people to store their bicycles and sends a clear message that bikes belong.  Even if homeowners in Studio City don’t think that they do.

And last but not least, people should be allowed to do what they wish on public property, even if the Studio City Neighborhood Council disagrees.

The ordinance still needs to be passed by the full City Council before moving to the Mayor’s Desk for final approval.