Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The importance of bike parking for commuters

Tom Vanderbilt, author of the excellent book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do, has written a very good article at about the importance of providing safe, secure, covered bicycle parking: What Would Get Americans Biking to Work? Decent parking:
Surveys have shown that the leading deterrent to potential bicycle commuters is lack of a safe, secure parking spot on the other end.

Donald Shoup, author of The High Cost of Free Parking, has estimated that 99 percent of car trips in the United States terminate in a free parking space, which means the nation's drivers don't have much incentive to think about parking—or not driving. In many American places, there are more parking spaces than people.
He mentions the recently passed law in New York that allows cyclists to bring their bikes into the building, which could greatly increase the options for indoor bike parking. Several cities are now requiring minimum bike parking with new developments.

Unfortunately, no such regulations exist in Fairfax. After a meeting with FABB to discuss this issue, Supervisor Smyth offered a motion to implement bike parking standards for the county at the November 19, 2007 Board of Supervisors meeting:
Supervisor Smyth moved that the Board direct staff to investigate and report within three months how other jurisdictions are addressing these issues and develop specific standards for the County to use as part of the land development process, and to further examine how these standards could best be introduced whether through adoption of a Board Policy, an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance, or incorporation into the Public Facilities Manual.
While the motion passed unanimously, almost two years later we still do not have a policy in place. Given the size and geographic diversity of Fairfax County, it is difficult to develop a policy that fits all situations, but we do need a policy. While the bike coordinator has done a good job of ensuring that the topic is addressed in most rezoning applications, having a policy in place would save the county time and money by reducing the need to ask for parking in each specific instance. We'll continue to push for development of a policy in Fairfax.



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