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Portland City Council passes first major bike parking code update since 1996

Posted by on December 4th, 2019 at 5:44 pm

It’s official!

“We can’t expect people to replace car trips with bike trips if they don’t have an easily accessible place to store their bike securely.”
— Chloe Eudaly, City Commissioner in charge of transportation

By this stage in the game, the vote on Portland’s bike parking code update was never in question. And even though I shared a more in-depth report when it appeared at council back in September, I feel like the adoption of policy this important should not go unnoticed here on the front page.

For the record, at their meeting this morning, Portland City Council voted 4-0 (Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty was absent) to adopt a new set of bicycle parking regulations that will become local law for all new developments (and some major remodels).

Here’s a PBOT summary of what the new policy does:

➢ Enhance security standards to help prevent bike theft. During early public outreach, staff heard that bike theft and security are of great concern to Portlanders. Tightening the security requirements and removing some of the standalone options that are available in current code are intended to help ensure higher security in long-term bicycle parking.

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➢ Increase options for space saving racks. Current code only addresses standards for horizontal (floor-mounted) rack placement and spacing. However, there are many rack designs that allow better use of space. Narrower spacing allows for greater flexibility in accommodating more bicycle parking in a smaller area.

➢ Usability for a variety of types of bicycles and people of all abilities. The Code’s requirements have not kept up with the types of bicycles people are riding today. Portland is seeing an increase in the use of electric bicycles and non-traditional sized bikes, including cargo bikes and recumbent tricycles. The proposed code amendments require bicycle parking that accommodates these bicycles and considers users of various abilities.

➢ Update the minimum required amounts of short– and long-term bicycle parking. The majority of the minimum required bicycle parking amounts have not been updated since 1996. Staff used a data driven formula based on data points, like average square footage per employee (long-term rates); visitation rates (short-term rates); and target bicycle mode split rates.

➢ Expand the use of geographic tiers to all Use Categories. While Portland has a citywide goal of 25% bicycle mode split for all trips, staff acknowledge that bicycle use rates will be different in various parts of the city, and that meeting the citywide goal will mean higher and lower rates depending on geography.

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➢ Reduce the in-unit allowance for required long-term bicycle parking. The proposed code amendments represent a compromise position to limit the amount of required bicycle parking in a residential unit, and add some additional standards on how the in-unit racks can be placed to maximize accessibility and usability.

At today’s meeting, PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said, “The availability and design of bicycle parking has a real impact on whether people can choose to use a bike to travel around Portland or not. We can’t expect people to replace car trips with bike trips if they don’t have an easily accessible place to store their bike securely.” Eudaly added that she knows better bike parking isn’t the only thing we need to reach transportation and climate change goals. “Which is why I’m pleased,” she said, “that my Bureau has funding to build over 75 miles of bike facilities over the next five years.”

Mayor Ted Wheeler called the code’s adoption, “A win for the climate, a win for mobility, and a win for equity.”

Kudos to PBOT, the Portland Planning Commission, and all the agency staff and advocates who worked on this project. A special shout-out goes to Planning Commissioner Chris Smith for spearheading this effort from the start and seeing it through to the end.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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Shimran George
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Shimran George

“The availability and design of bicycle parking has a real impact on whether people can choose to use a bike to travel around Portland or not. We can’t expect people to replace car trips with bike trips if they don’t have an easily accessible place to store their bike securely.”

I could not have said it better myself and I am glad Eudaly gets it!

I often think some places designate bike parking as such afterthoughts that they end up making it easier for bike thieves to steal parked bikes.

Secure bike parking is a huge concern for me, and a major deterrent for me to ride my bike to certain potentially dicey areas if I end up having to park outside in the open. Even if your frame is secured, you have ensure your wheels, seat, and other items are also secured…it just becomes a pain.

I bought a Brompton for these scenarios… and for the most part if works–it’s still slightly annoying to lug that thing around and obviously the 16 inch wheels don’t result in the greatest ride quality, and the shifting a little clunky–but overall I have not much in the way of complaints.

We need to take a page from the auto industry and reduce the barrier to entry for biking. The auto industry realizes the easier it is to have and use a car, the easier it is to justify the expense. One way they’ve made car ownership easier is security: Modern cars are very difficult to steal–so people have fewer issues when driving a car places. Why don’t we have more effective ways of securing and dealing with bike theft? Accommodating more bikes in buildings with greater security is a good first step.

Mike Quigley
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Mike Quigley

But, the thieves are always one step ahead of any security. About the only way to beat ’em is to ride a thrift-shop clunker to work and keep the good stuff for when you can keep it in sight at all times.

Lowell
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Lowell

I wish this had been implemented prior to the apartment building boom that kicked off six or seven years ago. It seems to be slowing down so I fear that this may have come a bit late. I’m still happy that it has passed, though.

Bob New
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Bob New

I got excited seeing the headline but was hoping for something like this… https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/04/nyregion/nyc-cargo-bikes-delivery.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage

Johnny Bye Carter
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Johnny Bye Carter

I don’t care how secure they think the room or the mounts are, I don’t trust them. I don’t trust my bike being parked anywhere overnight that a stranger can see it.

If they want to ensure that less bikes get stolen they need to mandate that all property owners must allow bicycles into all residential buildings.

Unless it’s in my personal shed/garage/house then it’s not secure enough to leave overnight.

Jim Lee
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Jim Lee

Hey, Chris, great work!

Keep on going, man, we need you!

Lenny Anderson
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Lenny Anderson

Thanks Chris! How can we get you nominated to the OTC?!? They need help badly over there.