First-Ever Bike Parking Ordinances for Houston
By Aaron Chang
The City of Houston’s Planning Commission Subcommittee has released their recommended changes to the city’s off-street parking ordinance (Chapter 26). These include Houston’s first-ever bicycle parking ordinances.
The proposed bike parking requirements (outlined in Section XII on Page 15) would require one bike parking space for every 25,000 square feet of gross floor area (GFA). Buildings with less than 5,000 sq. ft. GFA would not be required to have bike parking. Businesses are free to have as many bike parking spaces as they want, but the proposed ordinances would only require a maximum of six (if a building had 150,000 sq. ft. GFA, for instance).
BikeHouston is excited that Houston Planning Commission has added bicycle parking requirements to the proposed changes. The Planning Commission Subcommittee is working hard to proactively address our city’s current and future needs, and the new bike parking ordinances are a huge step forward in making Houston more bicycle-friendly. BikeHouston has been closely following the development of the new bike parking requirements and has reviewed the Planning Commission Subcommittee’s final report. Here are our recommendations to improve the proposed bike parking ordinances:
Number of Bike Parking Spaces
BikeHouston believes the number of bike parking spaces required (one space for every 25,000 sq. ft. GFA) is too low and needs to be increased. For example – the new HEB being constructed at the corner of Dunlavy and West Alabama is 70,000 sq. ft. and is located in one of the most walkable and cyclist-friendly neighborhoods in Houston. However, the proposed ordinances would require spaces for only three bikes at this location.
We also want to lower the threshold for required bike parking (the proposed requirements do not require bike parking for locations with less than 5,000 sq. ft. GFA). Thousands of local Houston businesses reside in buildings much smaller than 5,000 sq. ft. These include restaurants, bars, coffee shops – exactly the types of places Houstonians would like to be able to ride bikes to. BikeHouston would like to see required bike parking for all businesses with at least 1,500 sq. ft. GFA.
In addition – businesses should not be penalized for converting excess, unused car parking spots to bike parking spaces. A single car parking spot can easily accommodate up to ten bike parking spaces. BikeHouston would like to add a provision to the ordinance that allows businesses to convert existing car parking spots to bike parking spaces without violating minimum car parking requirements.
Also – anyone who has locked up a bike knows that the number of bike parking spaces isn’t be the sole consideration. Equally important are the location / accessibility of bike parking spaces and the design / construction of the bike racks. The proposed bike parking ordinances should specifically address these two issues:
Bike Parking Location & Accessibility
Bike parking should be located in well-lit areas that are highly visible and accessible. Too often we see bike parking spaces hidden near a dumpster in the rear of a business. If a business is having difficulty finding a good space to add bike parking, they should be able to easily convert existing car parking spots to bike parking spaces with no penalties.
Bike Rack Design & Construction
The type of bike rack a business chooses to install is very important. Many bikes with fenders, wider tires, and other common urban / commuting accessories are difficult to lock to racks designed for securing only the front wheel.
For convenience and security, the new ordinances should ensure that cyclists can easily lock their bike frames (and not just their front wheels) to the bike rack.
The City of Houston Planning Department is hosting a community meeting where you’ll have an opportunity to share your ideas about the new bike parking requirements (or any other parts of the proposed Off-Street Parking changes) to staff members of the Planning Department.
Monday, October 10th
6:30pm to 8:30pm
West End Multi-Service Center
170 Heights Blvd.
Houston, TX 77007
Click here for a map
If you are unable to attend, you can also email your comments to email@example.com