Panel proposes bicycle-parking rules for Merced

jsmith@mercedsunstar.comMarch 26, 2013 

The Merced Bicycle Advisory Commission on Tuesday adopted its recommendation for the city's first bike-parking ordinance, which would require some building developments to include bike racks and other infrastructure.

"We've always encouraged people to provide parking for bicycles, but it's never been in the city code," said Kim Espinosa, planning manager with the city of Merced.

Under the commission's proposal, construction of nonresidential buildings anticipated to attract visitors, such as retail and office space, would be required to include at least one bike rack. Developers would have to satisfy a ratio of one bike-parking space for every 12.5 vehicle-parking spots.

The requirements will help promote local commerce, said David Noble, who sits on the bicycle advisory commission.

"You're talking about increasing traffic to those areas, people who patronize those businesses," he said. "If people can't find parking or don't want to deal with driving, but they can get on their bike and find adequate bike parking, boy, who wouldn't want that?"

Nonresidential developments designed to accommodate more than 10 people working in the facility would have to provide at least one covered and lockable space to park a bicycle, under the proposal. The ratio for employee bicycle parking also would have to meet a requirement of one bike-parking space for every 12.5 vehicle-parking spots.

"It's essential to making people feel like it's possible to commute to work or wherever they want to go by bicycle," said Lisa Kayser-Grant, who also sits on the bicycle advisory commission. "You have to feel like you can safely store your bicycle when you get there."

Multifamily housing complexes would have to provide a ratio of one bike-parking space for every 10 vehicle-parking spots with a minimum requirement of two bike-parking spaces.

For complexes without a private garage for each unit, developers would be required to include covered and lockable bicycle-parking spaces for the tenants of 75 percent of the units.

At the same time, public facilities, such as municipal office space, parks, churches and swimming pools, would be required to have one bike-parking space for every five vehicle-parking spaces.

The draft bike-parking code requirements will be reviewed by the Planning Commission, which could change the ordinance before it is included in an update of the city zoning code.

The City Council is expected to vote on the zoning overhaul by the end of the year.

Reporter Joshua Emerson Smith can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or jsmith@mercedsunstar.com.

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