Bicycle Parking Ordinance Passes City Planning Commission

The Los Angeles City Planning Commission today took a step towards making Los Angeles a truly bicycle friendly city.  In a unanimous vote, the Commission adopted a Bicycle Parking Ordinance that would vastly expand the number of new bike parking spaces required in new developments of all kinds throughout Los Angeles. You can follow the blow-by-blows of the hearing at the twitter feed BikeBlogChris, or the hashtags #bikeLA and #lamtg.  You can download a copy of the pdf here.

Over 15 dedicated bicyclists and advocates showed up in City Hall Room 350 today to support the ordinance.  Kudos are due to Rye Baerg, the driving force behind the ordinance in the City Planning Department, and all the dedicated members of the public who have helped the ordinance reach where it is today.

Thanks, Rye (image courtesy LACBC)

The next step for the Bicycle Parking Ordinance is a hearing before the PLUM (Planning & Land Use Management) Committee.  Once through PLUM, the ordinance goes to a full hearing before the City Council before becoming part of the City’s municipal code.  When the ordinance is agendized from the PLUM Committee, we’ll be sure to let you know.

Bike Parking Desperately Needed in LA

Increasing the scope and size of the City’s bicycle parking requirements has been a long-held dream of the Los Angeles Bicycle Community.  The current bike parking requirement, for those who don’t know, only requires bike parking at the rate of 2% of car parking, and only for Commercial and Manufacturing zones for buildings over 10,000 square feet.  So yeah, not a lot of required bike parking.

A quick perusal of Rick Risemberg’s work at Bicycle Fixation, or Josef Bray-Ali’s impassioned plea for a more comprehensive approach (behind a subscription firewall – sorry), just shows what a hot-button issue bicycle parking has been over the last few years.

As covered in previous months on LADOT Bike Blog, LACBC’s blog, and Streetsblog, City Planning has been working on a proposal to beef up the requirements for bicycle parking for some time.  While the Planning Commission first heard the ordinance some months ago, there were concerns with a few of the particulars.  In today’s hearing, City Planning reported back on the changes made to the ordinance to address the Commission’s concerns.  Namely, commissioners worried that too many bike racks installed along the sidewalk would impede access to parked cars (and violate ADA requirements), that the percentage of car/bike parking swaps for new development would undermine affordable housing density bonuses, that adequate repair space for bicycles be provided in larger developments, and about the imposition of an in-lieu fee for developers who didn’t build bike parking.

Ordinance Changes

In all, 10 policy changes have been made to the ordinance, including:

  • Better standards for the types of bike racks used.
  • Better definitions and requirements for short-term and long-term bike parking.
  • Allowing only 1 bike rack per 50 feet of frontage on the sidewalk to avoid crowding.
  • Reducing the car/bike parking swap allowed from 20% to 10% on commercial corridors and 30% to 15% in Transit Oriented Development (TOD) areas.
  • Car/bike parking swaps are now floor-plate neutral.  (These last two changes were made to not interfere with low-income housing density bonuses.  Housing advocates worried that if developers could simply shrink their floorplate by reducing the number of parking spots required, they would forgo construction of affordable housing units to gain a density bonus).
  • Every development requiring 25 or more long-term bicycle parking spaces will also need to include at least 100 square feet of bicycle repair and maintenance space for residents and employees.
  • The establishment of a “bike parking fund” that developers would pay fees to in-lieu of providing bike parking themselves.  This idea is very conceptual right now and may be rolled into the “Bicycle Trust Fund” that is identified in the 2010 LA Bike Plan.  The idea is still being worked out by representative from the CAO and the Mayor’s Office.

Comments and Discussion

Public comment was almost uniformly positive, with representatives from the LACBC, the LA Bicycle Advisory Committee, and a few affordable housing organizations all speaking in support.  Glenn Bailey of the BAC urged the Commission to also require all City buildings to have bike parking in line with the standards of the new ordinance.  There was also a call to require more bicycle parking in City parks.

The Commission then discussed the finer points of a possible Bicycle Trust Fund, whether in-lieu fees were fair, and how to create a better definition of park space in LA so smaller parks can be required to have bicycle parking as well.  After getting assurances from City Planning that the Commission’s concerns would be addressed, the Bike Parking Ordinance passed with a unanimous vote.

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