Thursday, June 6, 2024

Council Recap: Bicycle Parking

Source: h/t DALL-E

On June 3, 2024, the Richardson City Council held a public hearing on a proposed ordinance specifying a mininum number of spaces for bicycle parking in new developments. This was approved unanimously by City Council.

City Manager Don Magner explained, "This is a pretty straightforward action that would be operationalizing what we're doing informally now. This has been to the CPC [City Plan Commission] and has been to your newly appointed BPAC [Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee] for direction and guidance."

Daniel Herrig, Mobility & Special Projects Manager, further explained that "this" is an "amendment to the comprehensive zoning ordinance that would apply to all new construction, as well as expansions of properties so that as they come in, that bike parking is getting thought of at the very beginning of that development process...The way the proposed ordinance is written, it's based off one bicycle space for every 20 vehicle parking spaces."

City Councilmember Ken Hutchenrider (and president of Richardson Methodist Medical Center) was not happy. "At the hospital, I have 1,500 plus parking spaces. People don't ride bicycles to come in for surgery and other things...So I guess in a retail [development] like a Dutch Bros that you mentioned, it makes perfect sense, in a lot of places it makes perfect sense. I support 1,000%...I'm just concerned that to have to come and ask for a variance and get into an argument with Council over a variance because there's no way to try and come up with bike racks at the numbers we'd have to come up to. I don't even know if I have the space where I could put those."

Hutchenrider's objection is overblown. If the hospital has 1,500 parking spaces for cars, it can take some of those spaces and put bike racks there for 75 bicycles. If hospital planning was deficient and there's such a chronic shortage of car parking that Hutchenrider doesn't want to take any away for bikes to use, then a temporary variance to the bicycle parking minimum should be possible to receive while the shortage of car parking is being addressed. Hutchenrider's expectation of having to "get into an argument with Council" might be an unintended admission that the City can be difficult to work with.

More importantly, Hutchenrider has a conflict of interest here and shouldn't be deliberating or voting on this agenda item at all. I said as much when Hutchenrider ran for City Council. I opposed Hutchenrider's candidacy then, saying, "The City Council should provide oversight of business in the City of Richardson. I prefer a City Council that's independent of big businesses, not one that includes the top executives of those businesses."

Mayor Pro Tem Arefin: "I've seen some cities that have maximum number, that a single facility doesn't have to have more than 30 or 40. I'm not stuck with it. I'm just asking, does it make sense to have some max number?"

To be consistent, Mayor Pro Tem Arefin ought to consider a similar maximum for car parking minimums. I'm generally opposed to cities specifying car parking minimums at all, but Richardson's bicycle proposal at least ties the bicycle parking minimum to what's provided for cars. That seems fair.

Councilmember Joe Corcoran: "What I think is really exciting is that we actually added incentives here for businesses to do this too, with that 5% parking space reduction, which I think is a really nice touch."

Good for Corcoran. Cities are overparked and underserve bicycles. Use some of that excess car parking for bicycles.

Councilmember Curtis Dorian: "We're just looking at bicycles, but will this have anything to do with scooters? Does that fall in this category?"

Magner answered, "I guess the scooter could use the bike rack, if we wanted to secure it." I take it that scooters are going to have to be addressed at a later date. Fine.

Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

"Twenty cars, one bike.
Bike parking at the forefront
in new construction."

—h/t ChatGPT

1 comment:

Matt Peyton said...

Thanks so much for this recap! The reason people don't bike more is because of poor bike infrastructure, including lack of parking. Hospitals and medical office buildings should not be exempt. I commute by bike every day and one of the biggest issues is finding parking, especially at my medical appointments. So happy about this initiative.