1996 was a long time ago. I imagine some of you reading this weren’t even born yet. Did you know the City of Portland is using a bike parking code that was adopted way back then?
It’s true. Even though our bicycling rates have septupled since then and we have about 100,000 more residents, we’re still using a playbook that’s 20 years old. If we want to meet our goal of 25% bicycle mode split by 2030, we’ve got to bring our parking policies into the modern era. Thankfully, a major update is in the works.
Portland’s Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) have spent the last two years putting the pieces of the new code together. (You might recall how it was a BikePortland Wonk Night in 2013 that helped kick off this process!).
So, what exactly is this all about?
It’s a batch of amendments to section 33.266 of the City of Portland Zoning Code that’s titled, Parking, Loading, And Transportation And Parking Demand Management.
That chapter is what dictates the quality and quantity of bike parking in Portland — whether you’re pulling up to your favorite store, pulling into work, or parking in your apartment building (keep in mind that zoning code only applies to new developments or major renovations to existing buildings). It matters for a lot of reasons: Lack of secure, accessible, and convenient parking is a real barrier to people who want to ride bikes (or ride more).
In their groundbreaking work in 2015 that explored the barriers to bicycling for people of color and people who live in low-income areas, the Community Cycling Center discovered that fear of theft was a major impediment to bike use. You might recall how residents of Cully’s Hacienda CDC housing development were ecstatic to finally get bike lockers after years of advocacy.
If we get this code update right, great bike parking would have been be baked-in.
The recipe book so far is a 91-page discussion draft created by PBOT and BPS (with help from public input and a stakeholder advisory committee). Among the changes are:
- Better weather protection: The code would require 100% of long-term spaces to have a roof so your bike doesn’t get wet (that’s up from the current 50% requirement).
- Space for bigger bikes: In 1996, no one had long and wide cargo bikes. The draft code proposes that at least 5% of long-term spaces have room for a large bike (current code has no size footprint language).
- Outlets for e-bikes: If a building has more than 20 long-term spaces, at least 5% of them must have a usable power outlet nearby.
Those are just some of the possibilities.
As you know, there are a lot of issues that rise to the surface when you consider changes to zoning codes. Will developers support it? How would the new requirements impact housing prices? How can we make sure the benefits of great bike parking spread to affordable housing residents and service industry workers?
There’s a lot to talk about. And we want to hear from you. That’s why we’ve teamed up with PBOT for a Wonk Night! It’s been way too long since we did one of these and we can’t wait.
Do ribbon racks make your blood boil? Tired of having to bring your wet and dirty bike into your apartment? Do you think a single hook high up on a wall is an ableist abomination?
If you have bike parking experience that you want to share — or if you have ideas that could help make our new code great, please join us this Monday (9/24) at 6:00pm. We’ve got a great venue lined up thanks to our friends at Fat Pencil Studio (541 NE 20th Ave #115). We’ll have PBOT staff on-hand for questions and there will be snacks and drinks. Special thanks to sponsors Hopworks Urban Brewery and Cascadia Ciderworks United for supplying the adult beverages!
Delve further into this topic by checking out the discussion draft. At a minimum, please take a few minutes to share your insights via the city’s online bike parking survey.
Disclaimer: The City of Portland has hired BikePortland to help build awareness for this project and host the Wonk Night event.
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