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Monday, March 18,2013

Bike parking shortage

A Lansing City Councilwoman gives Lansing a “four or a five” out of 10 when it comes to bicycle parking availability. A proposed ordinance would require property owners to install more bike parking.

by Andy Balaskovitz and Tracy Key
Friday, July 8 — If you ride your bicycle around Lansing, perhaps you’ve asked yourself: Where should I park this thing?

Fourth Ward Lansing City Councilwoman Jessica Yorko — a known bike enthusiast — understands the feeling. She says there’s a lack of spaces available in the city for bike riders to hitch their wheels and frame, and thinks Lansing can do better.

“For a bicyclist looking for available bike parking (in Lansing) on a scale of 10, I’d give it maybe a four or a five,” Yorko said. “I’ve seen worse, but I’ve seen better.”

Yorko introduced legislation Thursday to the City Council that would require property owners to install bike-parking devices on their property. Though details on the proposed ordinance need to be ironed out with the city’s Zoning Office, Yorko said the gist is that whenever someone plans to make improvements to their property, providing bike parking must be part of the project.

“Anything that would require a site plan review (by the city) would trigger the requirement for bike parking,” Yorko said. “If you’re making some major investments in your property, go ahead and upgrade it to make your parking multi-modal.”

The draft ordinance requires a certain number of bike parking spaces based on the type of structure in every zone except downtown and single-family residential. For instance, as it’s written, churches would be required to have two bike parking spaces for every 50 seats “in the main unit of worship”; libraries, museums, fitness centers and banks would need two for every 500 square-feet of usable floor space with a maximum of 30; and “eating and drinking establishments” would need two for every 24 seats.

Properties in the downtown business district are exempt from providing bike parking “unless off-street parking spaces are provided” by the business.

The ordinance also builds in long-term bike parking requirements for property owners who have more than 40 employees at work at any given time and bus stations. The ordinance defines a “long-term bicycle parking space” as “a bicycle parking space that is covered an enclosed on all four sides.”

Yorko said it typically costs between $60 and $80 to install an “inverted U-loop” parking device. If enacted, the ordinance as drafted would not immediately require property owners to install bike parking, but when they plan to make major property improvements that require an approved site plan by the city.

Property owners may seek a waiver from the requirement if they demonstrate a “financial burden” or “lack of demand for the bicycle parking spaces.” Also, Yorko said an “incentive” for installing bike parking is that it could reduce the number of off-street parking some property owners are required to provide under city ordinance.

Yorko said the legislation is part of the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council’s Walk Bike Lansing strategic plan.

“One of the ways to increase bike parking is to build it into an ordinance,” she said.

Lansing Park Board member Paul Carrier, who was seen Monday riding his bike in the city, agrees with Yorko’s assessment of bike parking availability. He called Lansing’s bike parking status “not well.”

Carrier specifically called out businesses that claim to be green — like the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, which has a downtown branch — but don’t offer bike parking: “These companies will be talking about being a ‘green company,’ but then you bike there and there’s nowhere to park.”

He recently visited the downtown MSU-FCU branch, 104 S. Washington Square, but had to chain his bike to a fence. “Not appropriate,” he said.

Fourteen-year-old Tim Boyd was also riding downtown Monday. He said it’s “not easy” finding somewhere to park his bike in Lansing. He pointed to several nearby bikes on Washington Square that were chained to parking meters and said he usually locks up to a light post.

Boyd said Yorko’s proposal “sounds like a good idea.”

Yorko said similar ordinances already exist in places like Kalamazoo, Meridian Township and Madison, Wisc. “We’re looking at other ordinances and taking what we think is best,” she said.

The proposed ordinance is being discussed in the Public Services Committee, which is scheduled to meet Tuesday at noon.


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