Indoor Parking Swap: More Space for Bikes, Less for Cars?

bike_parking.jpgA diagram showing proposed bike parking requirements for one class of residential construction. Source: DCP (PDF)
Yesterday the City Planning Commission heard feedback on a proposed zoning amendment to mandate bike parking in new construction. Together with the Bikes in Buildings Bill, which would improve bike access to existing buildings, the measure is intended to address one of the major hurdles to bike commuting -- the lack of a secure place to put your ride.

The zoning change faces less opposition than the bill -- which would achieve a much bigger impact -- but yesterday's hearing was not without debate. You've got to like the sound of the compromise that might be on the table, though. Reader Nathan Skodola sends this recap:

The opposition was largely organizations involved in low-income housing. Apparently federal subsidies for housing of this kind are determined on a per-unit basis, so adding a non-occupied room gets no extra money. However, virtually all of the opponents would favor the bill if they could exchange a mandatory car parking spot for 20 mandatory bike parking spots. The commissioners seemed very receptive and for the most part in favor of the change.

The commission will weigh yesterday's testimony along with recommendations from community boards and borough presidents.

Both the zoning change and the Bikes in Buildings Bill may come before the City Council around mid-March, says Transportation Alternatives. The bill first needs to clear the Transportation Committee, which held a hearing on it late last year. Following that hearing, the bill is being reworked to clearly require bike access, as opposed to storage, said Tim Roberts, policy director for sponsor David Yassky. The key provision to keep an eye on is the escape clause, which will have to grant exemptions to landlords who need one, without giving too much leeway to those who don't.