Bike advocates looking to beef up bike parking requirements in Austin

Bike advocates are working on a resolution that could beef up city code for bike parking. (Photo: CBS Austin)

Bike advocates are working on a resolution that could beef up the city code for bike parking, but some business owners worry this could add another costly hurdle with the city.

In the monthly Bicycle Advisory Council (BAC) meeting Tuesday night, members talked about the possibility of changing the city code for bicycle parking. Currently city code does require bike parking spaces on residential and commercial properties. The code details descriptions of how they should be placed safely as well.

However, BAC member Raquel Ortega said while car spaces requirements have a detailed list of how many spots are required, bicycle spaces only have two items in the code. Two spaces are required for commercial properties and five or five percent of car spots are required for residential areas.

“Any business that has requirements, or residential area that has requirements for auto parking, should have equivalent requirements for bicycle parking,” Ortega said Wednesday.

Ortega said there is a major lack of bike racks across the city, and more car spots in front of a business than bike parking spaces is common.

She’d like to see a change in the code to add much more detail on how many bike spaces locations should have.

Zilker Brewery co-owner Forrest Clark said it was a no-brainer getting a bike rack because so many customers bike to their taproom. However, when they were starting up the city did not require them to have bike parking spots.

He said the city did require them to have a certain number of parking spaces for vehicles. “There’s no sort of requirement for biking spots, it’s not really something we looked at when we permitted the building,” Clark said. “When we have such a high requirement for car parking it’s hard for us to find a spot in our property to put more bike parking.”

Clark said if done right, an added requirement for bike parking could work. However, he’s worried about having the same requirements for cars while adding requirements for bikes. “So it’s on top of a requirement for car parking and then you have a requirement for more bike parking, you might have to reduce the size of your establishment,” Clark said. “What you don’t want to see is a situation where that requirement for bike parking ends up costing the business owner a lot of money.”

Ortega is also looking into allowing venues that serve alcohol to trade code required parking spots for bicycle racks.

She said she knows bike riding while drunk is illegal, but she says it’s a part of alcohol harm reduction. “If we think about physics, the impact of a car versus the impact of a bike,” Ortega said.

Ortega said there’s also an issue with bike racks affixed to the ground with bolts that can be screwed off by hand. She said many riders won’t lock their bikes to those racks, and will instead lock them to street signs. “It’s more secure than locking to a rack that can be unscrewed,” Ortega said.

She said the city is working to fix that by having crews weld those bolts to keep the rack in place.

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