Bike parking could get boost as San Francisco looks to increase two-wheeled trips

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Bay Area Bike Share's proposed expansion to more than 7
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San Francisco wants people taking more bike trips in The City, but parking for cyclists is already scarce. However, city planners say they have an answer.

Amid population growth and an ongoing construction boom, proposed new bike parking rules would require buildings to set aside space based on use, size and the number of dwelling units. And the rules would distinguish between secure parking for employees and residents and highly visible parking for public use, requiring elements of both.

Instead of requiring one bike parking space for every two units in a residential building of more than three units, one change in the proposed rules would require one spot per dwelling unit for buildings of between four and 100 units.

The requirements — based on what cities such as Portland, Ore., or Vancouver, British Columbia, require — would apply to new construction or buildings that undergo significant renovations.

Of the 2 million daily trips taken in The City — which includes all modes of transportation — 75,000 occur via bike. Yet The City only boasts 3,000 public-use sidewalk parking racks, planner Joshua Switzky said in a recent presentation about the proposed new rules.

The lack of bike parking discourages bike use, treats cyclists with less dignity and can even lead to bad behavior, he said.

“The extent to which we treat bike facilities as an afterthought in building design and require cyclists to find marginalized ways to store their bikes … is often reflected back in the way cyclists view their status in society and act in marginal ways and just overall relegates cycling to a less dignified and reasonable form of transportation,” Switzky said.

The proposal also would create an in-lieu fee of $400 per public bike space, with the money going into a new fund to pay for bike parking where there are deficiencies. The fee would apply to up to 20 spaces.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees transportation in The City, wants to increase bike trips from the current 3 percent of all travel to 10 percent by 2020, and 20 percent for the downtown corridor. In some neighborhoods, the percentage already is close to that goal — more than 5 percent in the Mission, Outer Mission, Sunset and Richmond districts.

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