City of Anchorage Bicycle Parking Ordinance

Bicycle Parking Ordinance: Anchorage

Bicycle Parking

Bicycle parking facilities are important contributions to making Anchorage a more bicycle friendly city. The provision of bicycle parking involves three distinct elements: supply, location, and design. A supply of well located, secure bicycle
parking can help to reduce theft, provide protection from the elements, protect existing vegetation, and legitimize bicycle use. Bicycle parking should be secured so that entire racks cannot be taken. Needs for bicycle parking can be further broken down by short-term and long-term requirements.

  • Short-term parking spaces accommodate visitors, customers, messengers, and other persons expected to depart within approximately 2 hours. This length of visit also applies for most retail stores.
  • Long-term bicycle parking is intended to accommodate employees, students, residents, commuters, and other persons who expect to leave their bicycles parked for approximately 4 hours or longer. This parking need is found in major employment centers such as Downtown and Midtown as well as at schools and universities.

The current zoning code for Anchorage, Title 21, does not contain bicycle parking requirements. The proposed policies identified in Chapter 6 of this Bicycle Plan include incorporation of bicycle parking in the Anchorage development standards.

To evaluate the adequacy of proposed Title 21 standard for bicycle parking facilitiesand determine how it would be applied, given current requirements for vehicle parking spaces, a variety of existing Anchorage areaswere examined. The number of required bicycle parking spaces would be lowered if the number of required

vehicle parking spaces is reduced in the Title 21 revision process. The results are
summarized in Appendix G.

Changes to Title 21 will not address existing development in Anchorage that has
little or no bicycle parking. Inclusion of bicycle parking at existing developments
should be accomplished through the creation of a retrofit bicycle parking program
that offers incentives or subsidies to businesses to install bicycle parking spaces.

A list of the locations where bicycle parking is most needed is included in
Appendix H. This listwas generated by interested bicyclists and can be expanded
through surveys or discussions with local bicycle advocacy groups.

Bicycle Parking Supply

The number of short- and long-term bicycle parking spaces required should reflect the demand but should not impose an excessive burden on small developments or businesses. To evaluate the adequacy of proposed standards, a survey was created in fall 2008 to assess existing bicycle parking demand. A variety of office and retail developments were investigated. None of the studied developments offered bicycle parking equal to or more than 3 percent of the total parking spaces. As Table 10 indicates, a standard requiring parking at that level would be on the low side when compared to standards found in more bicycle friendly cities.

Most of the codes reviewed require a minimum number of bicycle parking spaces, with between three and five being a common range. (See Table 10.) Additional bicycle parking beyond the threshold requirements is often calculated based on a ratio of required automobile parking (typically between 5 and 10 percent), number of classrooms or number of students in schools, or square footage of the business or facility. Nevertheless, it appears that a 3 percent standard would meet the needs of Anchorage bicyclists, especially if used in conjunction with a set of good bicycle parking location design standards (discussed below).

Regardless of the standards ultimately adopted, exceptions to the parking standards should be given to businesses below a certain size threshold (for example, gross floor area totaling 3,000 square feet for a retail operation and 10,000 square feet for an office building) and for existing businesses wishing to retrofit bicycle parking on tight lots. In addition, single-family and small multi-family residential dwellings should also be exempt from bicycle parking requirements because most bicyclists store their bicycles inside.

The primary problem with the use of parking percentages to determine bicycle parking requirements involves the downtown zoning districts where no motor vehicle parking, and consequently no bicycle parking, would be required. In
addition, the new zoning code is proposing granting a significant vehicle parking reduction when certain criteria are met. As a result, the percentage approach would have the unintended consequence of also reducing the required number of bicycle parking spaces.

Preferred Bicycle Parking Location

The preferred location of bicycle parking depends on whether the parking needs are short term or long term. Short-term bicycle parking should provide individuals with the ability to park in a well-situated and accessible location. The best and most attractive short-term parking is located within 50 feet of building entrances. With multiple main entrances or buildings on a site, bicycle parking should be dispersed among all of the buildings. Multiple-station bicycle racks situated on a sidewalk or pathway can interfere with travel; however, if clearance for pedestrian and bicycle traffic is adequate, placing racks on sidewalks may be appropriate. Trees and light or flag poles are often taken advantage of to secure a single bicycle. Well-located and highly visible bicycle racks and prominent parking deter crime and are more easily utilized by the bicycling community.

Long-term bicycle parking provides employees, students, residents, utility bicyclists, and others a secure and weather-protected place to store their bicycles. This parking is best located on site or within 750 feet of the site. Consideration should be given to requiring or providing bonus points for long-term bicycle parking in all major employment centers, including Downtown, Midtown, and the UMed District.

With secure parking facilities, most utility bicyclists are willing to walk short
distances, about three blocks. Options for suitable long-term parking include the
• A locked room or area enclosed by a fence with a locked gate, with users obtaining access by a rental agreement or fee
• Within view or within 100 feet of an attendant or security guard
• An area monitored by a security camera
• A location that is visible from employee work areas
• A well-lit area to ensure the security of property and that enhances personal safety

Covered bicycle parking keeps bicyclists and their bicycles out of the elements, making it more pleasant and safer to ride, park, and retrieve a bicycle. Permanent cover offers the most protection from snow, rain, wind, and ice, and is likely more cost-effective than temporary structures. Cover should be at least 7 feet above the floor or ground and protect the bicycle from blowing snow and ice. Partial cover or extremely elevated cover leaves the bicycles and the bicyclists exposed to the climate. Inexpensive strategies to provide cover can include the use of existing overhangs or awnings. 

At least 50 percent of long-term bicycle parking should be covered. An existing
overhang or covered walkway, a special covering, weatherproof outdoor bicycle
lockers, or an indoor storage area can also act as covered parking. Indoor locations
such as a secure room, basement, under a stairwell, and other odd-shaped areas can
also serve as suitable bicycle storage and parking areas. Many office building
managers allow employees to park their bicycles in their offices.

Costs of Bicycle Parking Facilities

The costs to provide one car parking space are $8,000 in a surface lot and $25,000 in a garage.18 On the other hand, 10 to 12 bicycle spaces can fit into one car parking space. Bicycle lockers can be provided on a rental basis to bicyclists.

In many cities, long-term rental facilities for bicycle storage are commonly located within public parking garages. This arrangement is currently being considered by the Anchorage Community Development Authority (which manages the two municipally owned garages and two private parking garages as well as several parking lots in downtown Anchorage). This concept should be tested to measure the demand for indoor bicycle parking space rental.

Some cities contract out the management of bicycle lockers and rental facilities to local bicycle user groups, which administer the program. During 2009, several trial facilities are expected to be opened and will provide a test of the feasibility of indoor rental parking spaces and bicycle lockers.

Bicycle Parking Design

A bicycle can be a major investment. Many people refrain from riding their bicycles for basic transportation because of a lack of secure bicycle parking spaces. Design standards for racks, spacing, and cover are described below.

Bicycle Parking Racks
Appropriate short-term bicycle racks should possess the following characteristics:
• Holds the bicycle frame, not just a wheel, which can damage bicycles
• Permits use of a U-shaped shackle lock
• Accommodates a wide range of bicycle sizes, wheel sizes, and bicycle types
• Has a finished with chip-resistant paint or material to prevent bicycle paint scratches and damage
• Lacks hazards, such as sharp edges

Several styles of bicycle racks meet these criteria. One device for short-term bicycle parking is the Inverted “U” rack shown in the bottom photograph to the right. This rack, which is 32 to 36 inches tall and 18 to 30 inches wide, provides two bicycle parking spaces and supports each bicycle frame in two places. The device is favored by many bicycle advocates, and some cities have decided to require this specific type of rack.

Title 21 revisions should specify the type of bicycle rack required under the new bicycle parking standards to be in line with the criteria listed above.

As long as each parking space meets the criteria listed above, other types of bicycle racks, such as the one in the upper photograph, can be good solutions. The cost to purchase and install a bicycle rack that parks two bicyclesis about $150 to $300.

Among bicycle rack styles that are not appropriate and can even damage bicycles
are the types shown in the photographs above. Bicycle racks and parking devices
that only support one wheel of the bicycle do not meet standards for bicycle
parking. These inexpensive racks are commonly used in Anchorage today.

Dimensions and Accessibility of Bicycle Parking Spaces
The need to maneuver in and out of parking spaces should be considered in the design of dimensions for multiple parking spaces. Industry guidelines call for a typical parking space of 2 feet by 6 feet that can be reached without the difficulty of moving another bicycle. An aisle at least 5 feet wide behind all bicycle parking is therecommended standard.
Staggered bicycle racks can also be used to create bicycle parking. Improper installation of bicycle racks—too close to a wall or too densely concentrated—can reduce capacity as much as 90 percent. Bicycle parking should be separated from
car parking because motorists often do not leave enough room for bicycles to park and maneuver.

Other Bicyclist Amenities

End-of-trip facilities, such as change rooms, showers, and secure personal lockers, provide an opportunity for utility bicycliststo clean up before work and have the added benefit of encouraging workers to exercise during lunch hours. Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and other cities are including these types of amenities in building codes, especially for office buildings, government, and public facilities. Other communities have incorporated developer and employer bonuses, such as allowances for higher density and reduced motor vehicle spaces when shower facilities, changing rooms, and bicycle storage are provided on site.

Change rooms must be secure facilities capable of being locked and preferably located in well-lit areas as close as practicable to bicycle storage areas. Welldesigned change rooms include showers, non-slip floor surfaces, and lockers for
personal gear such as towels, toiletries, and clothing. Lockers located within the change room ensure privacy for users.

Personal lockers that store clothing and damp towels, bicycling gear, and other effects need to be well ventilated, secure, and lockable. Full-length lockers are preferred because of their storage capacity and ventilation qualities.

Shower facility design is usually based on the number of users or staff at the place of employment. The number of showers should be sufficient to ensure that utility bicyclists will not have to wait too long for their turns.

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