City Planning Unveils Bike-Friendly Zoning Regs

bike_parking_1.jpgThe Department of City Planning revealed a zoning amendment today that would require new buildings to include space for secure bike parking. The lack of indoor parking is one of the biggest obstacles for would-be bike commuters, and the proposed zoning joins other initiatives to improve parking in existing office buildings. DCP’s amendment includes requirements for residential and retail construction as well. (See the full list of provisions after the jump.)

"Our proposed citywide bicycle parking requirements will make it
possible to secure one’s bike at home and at work, thereby making it
easier to commute to work, to school and run errands by bike," said Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden in a written statement. "This is one
key piece of a larger package of city efforts to support bicycle

Before becoming law, the amendment must pass through the public review process, which gives veto power to the City Council. DCP estimates that the new zoning could be enacted within six months.

Another pending piece of legislation, the Bikes in Buildings Bill, would mandate access for bikes in existing commercial buildings and enjoys majority support in the Council. The bill is reportedly opposed by the Real Estate Board of New York, but according to a story in the Daily News yesterday, co-sponsor David Yassky appears confident that it will clear committee and pass:

Councilman David Yassky (D-Williamsburg) said legislation that would allow bikes to be stored in private office buildings would buoy ridership, which city officials hope will reach 18,000 by 2015.

The legislation, which could be voted on by the end of the year, would allow bike access in thousands of commercial buildings across the city, ensuring that all riders would have space to store their bikes during the workday.

"When we [pass the legislation], I predict the number of bike commuters will rise even further, making our city greener, healthier and less congested," Yassky said.

REBNY President Steve Spinola wrote to his members in September asking them to voluntarily comply with a DOT program to expand bike access and parking in office buildings, indicating that he would continue to oppose mandates like the new zoning amendment.

Here are the details from DCP on those requirements.

The new zoning would require that bicycle parking spaces be enclosed, secure, and accessible to designated users, such as residents, employees, or in the case of public parking garages, the general public. To ensure the new requirements do not encumber new developments, required bicycle parking would not count against the permitted floor area. The new zoning provides that:

  • Residential buildings with more than 10 units must provide secure bike parking for 50% of the units, or one space for every two units.  
  • Commercial office buildings must provide one space for every 7,500 square feet.
  • Retail and most other commercial uses, as well as most community facility uses, would be required to provide one space for every 10,000 square feet of floor area.  Smaller buildings, where three or fewer bicycle spaces are required, can waive the requirement.
  • Universities and hospitals will be required to provide secure bike parking but special provisions would allow these institutions to locate spaces more flexibly in a campus setting.
  • For industrial and semi-industrial uses, religious institutions, and certain other facilities with varied employment densities or unusual space demands, bicycle parking would not be required but would not count against permitted floor area.
  • Public parking garages would be required to provide one (1) bicycle parking space for every ten (10) automobile parking spaces.
  • Requirements would apply to new buildings, enlargements of 50% or more, and conversions to residential use.
  • Fifteen (15) square feet would be required per bicycle parking space. The amount of parking space required per bicycle can be reduced to as little as 6 square feet per bicycle with the submission and approval of a more efficient layout.
  • In order to address a wide range of building configurations, bicycle parking may be provided in a variety of locations, including on the ground floor of a building, in a cellar or in a parking garage.

The Chairperson of City Planning Commission may authorize a reduction or waiver of bicycle parking spaces when subsurface or below-ground infrastructure conditions make bicycle parking infeasible.

  • Ian Turner

    Note that the proposed zoning rules, though excellent, omit the “and we really mean it!” provision required to gain enforcement.

  • Rye Baerg

    From the requirements above it seems like the bicycle parking is in addition to the auto parking, correct me if I’m wrong. My thought was that they should offer developers a trade for bicycle parking spots for auto parking. Since bicycle parking takes up much less room than auto parking it would be much cheaper for developers. The percentages and limits would have to be worked out of course, but ideally it would be on a one to one basis.

  • Ian, what do you mean by the “and we really mean it!” provision?

    Rye, I agree that auto parking requirements desperately require reexamination, particularly in dense, transit-rich areas like brownstone Brooklyn. (They’re already waived in Manhattan below 96th Street, but that’s not enough.)

  • Ian Turner

    Bicycle parking requirements are waived whenever they are deemed “infeasible”, which is code for “whenever developers don’t want to include bicycle parking”. At least that’s how I read it.

  • christine

    AS usual city planning proposes a zoning that has more holes than gruyere cheese. It gives full flexibiblity to the commission to give all exceptions and cook deals inteh backroom. Just like teh current special permits for parking.
    . teh law shoudl say that all bikes must be accepted in buildings and make any existing parkign offfer biek parking including parkign lots and public garages etc.. period.. no give, no more FAR, no other perks, no excpetions.
    Ideally bike parkign trade off for car parking ..

    three years ago we pushed to change DOT , we must push to change CITy planning and the police if we wwant to go anywhere. Mike Bloomberg, wake up! your budget could easisly be baant ced by reining in developpers and drivers.

  • Steven Spinola

    November 12, 2008

    Ben Fried

    Re: City Planning Unveils Bike-Friendly Zoning Regs

    Dear Mr. Fried:

    I want to correct an error in your November 10, 2008 Streetsblog story in which you state that we oppose the Department of City Planning’s proposed zoning amendment to require new buildings to include space within the building for bike parking. The Real Estate Board of New York has been supportive in principle of DCP’s zoning amendment for required bike parking in new buildings.

    In discussions with them about the proposed amendments we have raised concerns about the amount of space required and whether it exceeds existing and future demand based on the current usage in new buildings that have voluntarily provided such space. Also, we have raised operational and liability issues that would arise in maintaining such space.

    What we have opposed is mandating a bike-parking requirement for existing buildings. Given the enormous variety of commercial and residential buildings, the diverse code and marketing requirements in effect when they were built, many existing buildings simply cannot accommodate this requirement. However, as you correctly note, we have encouraged our members to voluntarily comply with the DOT program.


    Steven Spinola
    President, Real Estate Board of New York, Inc.


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