An opportunity to support increased bicycle parking
City ordinances come and city ordinances go. Some have come to be known as rather humorous. For example, in Minnesota, any game in which participants attempt to capture a greased or oiled pig is illegal. While in West Virginia it is illegal to hunt using a Ferret. Some aren’t so funny, like in Winston-Salem, there is currently no requirement for a new business to install bike parking during construction.
Many thanks to our city-staff for identifying this as an issue and working toward changing it. Although it seems everyone is not on the same page.
In a recent email from Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, bicycle parking was quasi-presented as a burden and suggested it could cost business owners in Winston-Salem thousands of dollars. While it’s true that it will cost some businesses thousands, their wording is ambiguous at best; anti-bike at worst.
To their credit, the email did encourage people both for and against the proposed changes to speak up at the Planning Board meeting scheduled for July 9th at 4:30 PM. However, with a subject line of “Proposed Bike Parking Regulations Could Cost Businesses Thousands of Dollars,” I could see more business leaders persuaded to show disfavor instead of support.
It’s not going to cost all businesses thousands.
The Chamber’s wording is misleading. Most business owners in Winston-Salem will see little or no increase in the cost of doing business. This ordinance change would only apply to certain types of businesses, in certain areas of the city, that are building a new facility, expanding, or changing uses. The new version of the ordinance is very specific about which businesses will be affected and it also outlines the exact number spaces that should be present for bicycles. Which brings me to my next point.
The maximum requirement is only 20 spaces.
Reading through the proposed ordinance, the thing I notice first is the majority of business types outlined are exempt from bicycle parking requirements all together. I counted 90 out of 151 business types exempt from this ordinance change which means it won’t cost those businesses a nickel. One type of real estate that will be impacted is shopping centers. Even then, it’s not much.
A shopping center being built that is between 35,000 and 250,000 SF would be required to have a space for 1 bicycle per 10,000 SF with a minimum of 7 spaces and a maximum of 20 spaces.
Let’s use Hanestowne Village — a recent shopping development on Stratford Road — as an example. At just over 100,000 SF, it would be required to have enough parking for 10 bicycles. In my research I found an approved “Inverted U” rack that provides spaces for 2 bicycles usually costs about $200 installed. Which equates to a whole $1,000 to be absorbed in the $50Million project. Or for every $50,000 spent developing, $1 would go toward bike parking. I’m really pleased that the developer, Crown Companies, decided to include bike parking at two different locations within the Hanestowne Village. Although the racks they chose are not on the list of approved racks and there aren’t any places for bikes at the completed outparcels at this point, it means companies are willing to spend the money necessary to install bicycle parking without being required to.
Everyone else is doing it.
In this case, I’m talking about other municipalities. North Carolina’s own, Raleigh, Charlotte, and Asheville all have similar requirements. Not to say that we should do whatever they decide to do but it shows that we’re not the only city that sees how we can benefit from improvements to cycling infrastructure.
Raleigh recently even deleted a parking spot for a car in favor of a bike corral.
Out of necessity, I’ve locked my bike to all sorts of things other than a bike rack. Trees, park furniture, signs, gates, railings, trash cans, and even exposed plumbing can be used in a pinch but locking to these things can also lead to damaging nature, property, or your bike! Also, many times bikes end up blocking pedestrian traffic when a separate area is not designated for bikes.
Not to mention the health, transportation, and economic impact of connecting more places together for people riding bikes is outstanding as outlined in this research done by ITRE – Institute for Transportation Research and Education at NCSU.
It’s what our community wants.
We contacted several local businesses asking about their current bicycle parking situations, and what we found out was pretty cool.
- Many of the businesses that have dedicated bicycle parking said they see them used by customers and employees alike.
- Jordan from Camino Bakery says they see as many as 25 customers by bike per week. They also have 4 employees that bike to work exclusively and about 10 employees that commute by bike on a regular basis. They all utilize the bicycle parking on 4th street.
- Some businesses did not have dedicated bike parking but still saw customers and employees riding their bikes regardless.
- Everyone that responded said they saw value in accommodating people who ride bikes.
How you can get involved.
Email the city planning board before the meeting this Thursday. This email goes to someone on staff in the Planning Department and they will pass it on to all Planning Board members. Emails should be addressed to “City-County Planning Board Members” and should reference the bike parking ordinance to be heard on July 9th. Let them know you would like to see more dedicated bicycle parking where you live.
You can also attend the Planning Board meeting on Thursday, July 9th at 4:30 PM on the 5th floor of City Hall South. If you would like to speak at this meeting, I would suggest getting there early in order to sign in. This is a great opportunity to change the direction of Winston-Salem’s infrastructure in order ensure we have the necessary facilities for people who ride bikes. Giving them the ability to park at our local businesses makes Winston-Salem more bike friendly and benefits the community as a whole.