One week ’til the new code! Hope you’ve been enjoying the countdown thus far. Today’s Q&A focuses on ways the new zoning code addresses bike parking, and by extension, transportation alternatives. We’ve also got some handy tips towards the end about bike parking outside of buildings (and therefore outside of the zoning code’s influence), so stay with us to the end, k? Here we go.
Q: So how does a code about building form and design address bike parking, anyway?
A: The new zoning code requires most buildings over 7500 square feet, multi-family buildings with 12 or more units, and public parking lots to include bicycle racks in new development. Two types of bicycle parking are detailed in the code: fancy Class 1- bicycle lockers, a storage room, or covered spaces, and typical Class 2- outdoor bicycle racks. Want more details? Check out the bicycle parking table. http://ph.ly/WpCkm Specifically, you’re looking for Chapter 14-800 (the one about parking), and then 14-804 (the section about bicycle parking ratios and standards), and then the first table within that. Get to know these tables. They are your friends.
Q: I have enough friends already, but thanks. More bike parking sounds good, but what about reducing car usage in general?
A: The new code’s bicycle parking rules kill two birds with one stone. For every 5 of those fancy Class 1 bicycle spots on a property, the number of required off-street automobile parking spaces can be reduced by one space up to a maximum reduction of 10% of the required automobile parking spaces. This can significantly impact a building within a densely developed area where bicycle parking may be at a higher or equal demand as automobile parking, such as Center City or University City.
Q: Give me an example?
A: A developer proposes a 100 unit residential building in a zoning district that requires 3 car spaces per 10 units (which is in and of itself a significant reduction from the old code, but we’ll talk car parking later). This means his project must include 30 spaces to avoid variances. Knowing that his proposed building is in an area with high bicycle commuting rates and lots of would-be tenants who commute by bike to University City, this developer incorporated Class 1 bike parking facilities for 20 bikes into his design. Per the new code, he was able to eliminate 3 car spots (10% of the total required), resulting in a project with 27 car spaces. She could’ve achieved this reduction by providing only 15 bicycle spaces (5 for every individual car space), but she threw in the extra 5 cause she’s an enlightened person who understands the added value such amenities can bring to these projects.
Q: That’s cool, but aren’t there cases where the parking ratio should be further reduced in order to ease congestion and reduce demand for driving?
A: Why, yes, Mr. Shoup, there are.
Q: That’s not my name.
A: You’ll get that joke when you’re older. But all kidding aside, we did build in additional ways to lower car parking ratios, most notably the Transit Oriented Development Overlay, which lets you chop HALF of your parking off if you so desire. We’ll blog about that one soon.
Q: Sounds aggressive.
A: We’re very serious about alternative transportation and smart land use around here.
Q: Any other bike zoning stuff I should know?
A: In addition, the zoning code requires that new buildings provide connections to existing trails noted in the Philadelphia Pedestrian & Bicycle Plan and other Planning Commission plans. (http://phila2035.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/bikePedfinal2.pdf)
Q: I know we’re only a week away from a new code, but this is a city planning emergency. I need more bike parking NOW.
A: MOTU is in the midst of a push for more in-street bicycle corrals that accommodate up to 12 bikes (!!!). You can contact Aaron.Ritz@phila.gov over there for more info, and you can support upcoming corral proposals in various neighborhoods. You can also encourage your favorite coffee shop, gym, or grocery store to install on-street bicycle parking by following this link and filling out a bicycle rack application. (http://www.philadelphiastreets.com/pdf/bicycle-rack-permit.pdf)