Category: bicycling advocacy

Parking reform’s negative impacts bicycle parking? What?

We’re excited in California for AB 2097 to take effect with the new year. This law bans parking minimums for new developments within a half mile of transit. Cycling advocates and others who care about housing and the climate fought for this bill, and we celebrated when Governor Gavin Newsom signed 2097 into law last September.

But did you know this law might also eliminate bike parking requirements in some California cities and counties?

A bicycle leaned against a wave rack near a white wall, with "BICYCLE PARKING" stenciled above the rack.

I was reviewing plans for a new restaurant for the city of Campbell, California because planners there seem to overlook their town’s bike parking requirements. The developer application includes this paragraph:

Under the recently adopted AB-2097, the City “shall not impose or enforce any minimum automobile parking requirement on a residential, commercial, or other development project if the project is located within one-half mile of public transit.” As such, this project is no longer subject to a parking requirement as of January 1, 2023.

Cool, right? The application, though, makes no mention of bike parking, so I looked up Campbell’s bike parking rules. Campbell adopts by reference the California Green Building Standards Code (“CalGreen”), which in turn stipulates “permanently anchored bicycle racks within 200 feet of the visitors’ entrance, readily visible to passers-by, for 5 percent of new visitor motorized vehicle parking spaces being added.”

Do you see the problem? Five percent of zero is … zero bike parking.

Alarmed, I next looked at city code for cities in Santa Cruz County. Each of the cities of Santa Cruz, Capitola, and Watsonville have at least a portion of their bike parking requirements defined as a percentage of car parking. Update: The city of Santa Cruz already started work to amend their bike parking code in light of AB 2097; good job!

The County of Santa Cruz just yesterday finalized and approved an overhaul of the Parking and Circulation section of their planning code which significantly improves bicycle requirements for new developments. Guess how this brand new code specifies bike parking? Yep: as a percentage of car parking.

As a member of the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission Bicycle Committee (whew, that’s a mouthful), I’ve already asked the committee chair for an agenda item and action in which we’ll send a letter to each of these cities and the county asking them to update their bike parking code to reflect the new reality of AB 2097.

While most cities I’ve looked at have this problem, I found three cities that define bike parking requirements with a formula based on building square footage or occupancy: San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland. Well done to those cities.

I encourage you to look into your city and county zoning code. You can find this by Googling [ your city or county ] planning code bicycle parking. I’d love to know your findings so comment what you find here.

City of Santa Clara to study bike lanes on Tasman

The city of Santa Clara will hY consider bike lanes for the 1.5 mile portion of Tasman Drive within city limits between the Guadalupe River and Calabasas Creek. A consultant will study traffic on Tasman and propose ways to reconfigure the lanes on Tasman to make room for bike lanes. The green line below shows the study area.

Tasman bike lane study area

Tasman Drive is a major east-west roadway and designated bike route across the north end of the city of Santa Clara roughly halfway between Highway 237 and U.S. 101. In Santa Clara, Tasman Drive provides access to the Great America amusement park, the Santa Clara Convention Center, and several outdoor sport facilities. The new 49ers football stadium is under construction across the road from the convention center. Tasman Road is also an important feeder to growing employment and residential traffic along North First Street in adjacent San Jose.

Between the Sunnyvale city limits and Great America Parkway, Tasman is a four lane divided road serving 13,000 vehicles per day. Tasman becomes a six lane divided road serving 17,000 vehicles per day east of Great America Parkway. According to traffic modeling formulas used by Caltrans, the four lane portion of Tasman has a capacity double the current traffic, while the six lane portion can handle over 46,000 vehicles per day. The speed limit for all of Tasman within Santa Clara is 40 MPH and it operates at “C” Level of Service.

The question the city of Santa Clara asks: Where can they put the bike lanes without widening the existing right-of-way?

View Larger Map

For the six-lane portion of Tasman (shown above with a bonus left turn lane added), the answer is easy — convert the entire right lane to a bike lane and you still have enough spare capacity for free flowing traffic. You might even be able to squeeze in a half mile of street parking or tour bus pullouts along here.

For the four lane portion of Tasman (shown below), the answer might be a little trickier. and there’s probably no way to give this part of Tasman a road diet without reducing capacity. This is why the city will pay a consultant the big bucks — $56,500 — to try to come up with three alternative road configurations of their own.

View Larger Map

The Santa Clara city council has made some bold decisions recently regarding bike and transit access. They apparently feel somewhat obligated to improve the bike accessibility of Tasman Drive — this is, after all, a designated bike route in both the city and county bikeways plan. The bid, however, makes the usual tail-wagging-the-dog assumptions about traffic impacts and projected volumes that mostly ignores any mode of travel that doesn’t involve the infamous single occupant motor vehicle in spite of state and regional policies stating a need to reduce traffic levels for various reasons.

The 49ers are helping to pay for this study, and they’re a major stakeholder for this project. About 21,000 parking spaces will be accessible from Great America Parkway (it’s the main Great America lot), while a big chunk of the remaining parking will be built off of Tasman Drive. Will the 49ers be okay with a lane reduction on Tasman?

Time will tell. The engineering consultant Kimley-Horn and Associates has four months to complete the design of their proposals and obtain CEQA clearance for bike lanes on Tasman, so watch for public hearings beginning something in August or September.

Thank you to Mike Rosenburg at the Mercury-News for research help. He writes about the city’s $56,500 contract with Kimley-Horn. You can find the full bid details here. I use traffic count data from 2008; employment and traffic are higher today. The Kimley-Horn study will gather up-to-date numbers.

Villainy and Redemeption

Bring up LeBron James at the water cooler and you have yourself a conversation. In the time of a lengthy NFL lockout, a budding NBA lockout and the Cubs mired in 5th place, good news is hard to come by. LeBron James dug himself a pretty darn big hole with a large segment of NBA fandom with The Decision a year ago, but he continues to do good in his hometown. Some say he could do more, but let’s allow this to just be a good thing.

San Francisco Wiggle PSA

“San Francisco has too many hills and too much traffic to be enjoyable and safe for cyclists.”

Or: “The Urban Myth that desperately needs to be exposed for what it really is: a myth.”

San Francisco has long been a great place to ride, and broad-spectrum bicycle infrastructure upgrades have made it even better in the past few years. Miles and miles of new, clearly-marked bike lanes, traffic calming measures, bike boxes, and designated routes that avoid busy streets and go around the steepest hills are just some of the things cyclists in the City by the Bay are smiling about.

One of the oldest and most used of the designated routes in SF is the “Wiggle” . (more…)

Cycling in Benin: Donation Drive for Benin National Team

The Benin National Team have a knack for piecing together road bikes from miscellaneous components. Photo credit: Christoph Herby
Our favorite former pro racer turned Peace Corps Volunteer and blogger, Christoph Herby, has stirred up tremendous interest in supporting the Benin National Team with his recent “Cycling in Benin” posts. His most recent post is “Dreaming of the Champs ElysĂ©es.” (more…)