By Emily Kettell, LiveMove Vice President
Attending the National American Planning Association Conference was a great way to learn about some of the major projects happening in cities across the country. One of the presentations that stood out the most as being relevant to Eugene was called, “Zoning for Bikeability”. This session focused on how cities can use regulations to increase the safety and convenience of biking for their communities, with an emphasis on how Austin, Texas is tackling this issue.
The presentation started out with a discussion on cycling commute rates in cities throughout the country. Eugene was described as having the second highest bike commuter rate (8.7%) for a medium sized city.
Source: The League of American Bicyclists. (2013). Bicycle Commuting Data. Retrieved from http://bikeleague.org/content/bicycle-commuting-data.
So how do we increase the rate of those who commute by bike in Eugene and other cities across the country?
The presenters offered a variety of solutions including several changes that can be made through the code, as well as initiatives that can be taken on by building owners.
The three biggest code changes that could increase safety and convenience for cyclists include:
- Parking ratios- requiring a minimum number of bike parking spots for every car parking spot. In Portland, the code requires a certain number of bike parking depending on the building square footage (for retail), per rooms, or per number of car parking spaces. For example, office uses are required to have 2, or 1 per 10,000 sq. ft. of net building area.
- Rack Standards-Include racks that are visible and near the entrance of buildings. It is also important to make sure that the racks are not too close to some sort of barrier, like a wall, or can only accommodate one bike per rack.
- Security- Parking should be in a visible location which would alleviate many cyclists’ fears around bike theft.
These requirements could also be implemented through form-based codes. This means that bike parking would have to be included as part of the design of a site.
Building owners can also increase convenience by incorporating indoor bike parking or, at the very least, parking near the entrance of the building to increase convenience for cyclists.
Other important infrastructure projects that can help increase the bikeability of a community include connecting all bike networks, so that there are direct routes for cyclists in reaching their destination. Other projects can include retrofitting streets to create a protected bike path and/or cycle track that separates the bikes from the cars.
Austin is seeing an increase in cyclists as the city works to promote bike infrastructure and a connected network that is built for pedestrians and cyclists alike. In addition, through the code, off-street parking for bikes is required to be provided at every facility. Even better, Austin’s code requires that 50% of bike parking has to be within 50 feet from the building entrance, which creates convenience for cyclists and addresses security concerns.
For communities that value biking, improvements to the cycling experience can always be improved upon. As communities increase the connectivity of their bicycle network, city planners should be thinking about these simple, yet effective changes, to promote convenience and safety for all users of the road.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog, where Ross Peizer will discuss his research about bike parking in Eugene.