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Monday, March 18,2013

Kids in the Hall

Bicyclists encourage the Lansing City Council to adopt new bike parking rules

by Andy Balaskovitz
Tuesday, July 26 — An unusually high number of spectators wearing bicycle helmets filled the Lansing City Council audience Monday night as the Council held a public hearing on a proposed bike-parking ordinance.

Eight people spoke in support of the proposed ordinance; one — Council regular Charlene Decker — was against; and a 10th speaker, Derek Kastner, said it’s the “wrong approach” and that the city should instead work to fix the “systemic problem” of having such “automobile-centric” city.

“I’m an avid biker. We were a two-car family then sold one,” said Kastner, a westside resident. “I agree we need a more bikable, walkable community and we need to future-proof our city. I think this is the wrong approach. Instead of putting the onus on businesses, there are systemic problems we need to change.”

But a majority were advocates who spoke for the proposed changes that would require certain property owners to install bike parking when major renovations that require city site-approval are planned. For more details on what the ordinance, sponsored by 4th Ward City Councilwoman Jessica Yorko, proposes, click here.

“One-third of residents in Ingham County don’t have access to a car,” said At-Large Council candidate Rory Neuner, project coordinator for the Transportation for Michigan Coalition and vice president of the League of Michigan Bicyclists. “I think we need to plan our businesses and city to address those folks and give them options.”

Neuner also said encouraging people to get active is a “huge way” to address the obesity epidemic in Michigan and nationwide.

M.C. Rotthorn, who lives on Leitram Court on the west side, said the ordinance is a “natural extension of what Council has already considered,” referring to a “Complete Streets” ordinance adopted in 2009.

Jennifer McMillon, an AmeriCorps volunteer who does work for the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council, said: “Without an ordinance like this, we won’t ever know what we’re capable of changing. Any ordinance that is directly related to the health of the city deserves your praise.” As for claims that it would be a burden on businesses: “It’s not a penalty, it’s an increase in standards.”

City Council President A’Lynne Robinson said the Council received five e-mails for the proposal and one against.

The Lansing State Journal editorialized about the ordinance last week, saying while more bike parking may be “a good idea,” “its time has not yet come.” In its editorial, “Let businesses control bicycle parking,” the LSJ basically took the position that it would burden business owners if they have to install bike parking spaces.

“Planning for bicycle amenities makes sense, but should it be done in a way that may discourage business growth?” it reads. “In this tough economy, leaving such matters to a business owner’s discretion may be a wiser economic development strategy than mandating costly changes.”

But how costly is it? Advocates of the ordinance say not much. Yorko said it could end up saving property owners money in the end.

Julie Powers, president of Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council, said for the roughly 7.5 percent of city residents who use bikes as a “primary means of transit, it’s really important we have safe bike parking.” She also said the cost of providing bike parking is far cheaper than providing automobile parking — $150 compared to $4,000.

If businesses exceed the amount of bike spaces required to be installed, the ordinance allows that to count toward required automobile-parking spaces. As it’s written, six extra bike-parking spaces can replace one car-parking space. Yorko also said the it’s far more expensive to install and maintain car-parking spaces.

The Council referred the ordinance to the Public Service Committee for further discussion.

In other business, the Council adopted two ordinances at last night’s meeting. The first sets a nonrefundable $100 application fee for nonprofits that are seeking a charitable gaming license within the city. The fee was recommended by the Bernero administration for the current fiscal year’s budget, At-Large Councilman Derrick Quinney said. While 1st Ward Councilman Eric Hewitt had concerns the $100 might be excessive for smaller organizations, the ordinance was unanimously adopted and given immediate effect.

The second ordinance — which was also adopted unanimously and given immediate effect — eliminates the requirement to have each auction in the city separately licensed and sets a one-time licensing fee for auctioneers.

The Council also voted to schedule public hearings for three ordinances up for adoption:


  • Aug. 22 for the rezoning of 601 N. Pennsylvania Ave. from a residential to professional office district. Neogen wants to use the property just south of Saginaw Street near Oak Park for administrative offices.

  • Aug. 22 for the rezoning of 2331 N. Larch Street from a parking to commercial district. A large parking lot sits on the parcel now and the owner, Leo Trumble, wants it rezoned for potential future development.

  • Monday to designate an “enforcing agency” to oversee flood hazard areas in the city. At-Large Councilman Brian Jeffries said the designation is required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He also said the city would adopt a “new map” of the floodplain, as produced by FEMA. The city has recommended using the Building Office to oversee these duties.

In other business, the Council unanimously approved 10 resolutions Monday:


  • Permitting construction of a sidewalk and acquiring three more parcels of land along the east side of Waverly Road between Moores River Drive and Holmes Road. Jeffries said the city needs to purchase portions of three properties, which range from $1,200 to $6,000 each;

  • Settling a Workers’ Compensation Claim for $100,000 that involved alleged work-related injuries or illnesses. Details about the claim and the plaintiff are confidential, Council President A’Lynne Robinson said;

  • Granting AT&T an easement on Lansing Board of Water & Light property along the Red Cedar River just north of Crego Park for a communication facility;

  • Granting a special land use permit to Esteban Chavez to build a church in the Logan Shopping Center, 1122 W. Holmes Road;

  • Setting Principal Shopping District special assessment rates through 2013;

  • A tribute recognizing the 47th anniversary of the New Mount Calvary Baptist Church, 3800 Miller Road in Lansing;

  • A tribute recognizing volunteers in the AmeriCorps Power of We Consortium;

  • Appointing Edwina Marshall to the Human Relations and Community Services Board for a term to expire June 30, 2013;

  • Appointing Anthony McCloud to the Board of Water & Light Board of Commissioners for a term to expire June 30, 2015; and

  • Appropriating funding to Lansing for Cesar E. Chavez for its upcoming Latino/Tejano Showcase on Sept. 10.


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