A FHWA study on why bicycling and walking are not used more for travel determined that the top reasons why people don't bike commute more are, in order: distance from work, safety concerns and a lack of parking and shower facilities at work. By far the easiest of those to address is the lack of shower and parking facilities. And here in DC it's clearly an issue as well. In a WABA member survey, 78.1% of respondents indicated that access to a shower/changing area would be influential in encouraging them to commute by bicycle. In the same survey 25% of respondents listed the lack of shower/changing facilities as a discouraging factor for bike commuting. So it is safe to say that providing adequate amounts of safe storage, preferably out of the elements, as well as lockers and showers will increase the amount of bike riding and especially bike commuting. Luckily for potential DC bike commuters it is likely that the lack of these facilites in many buildings will soon be addressed.
First of all, with the passage of the Bicycle Commuter and Parking Expansion Amendment Act of 2010, the Mayor is given the power to enforce the original act from 2007. These laws require that bike parking in buildings that offer car parking be doubled from 1 bike space for every 20 car spaces to 1 for every 10. They further require 1 space for every 4 units in a residential building of 8 units or more. This should go a long way toward addressing the lack of parking.
But wait, there's more. The proposed DC zoning rules require two types of bicycle parking in ALL buildings (whether they have car parking or not) above a certain size. For most residential buildings that have more than 10 units and non-residential buildings of more than 4000 sq. ft. some type of either long term and/or short term parking is required. I say most because antennas and transportation infrastructure have no requirement. And since the minimum amount of parking required is 2 spaces, it means that it's a bit front loaded.
In addition, non-residential buildings with 25,000 sq. ft in gross floor area will be required to supply 2 showers wiht 2 more for every additional 50,000 sq. ft up to 6 showers. They will also be required to supply 6 lockers for every 10 long term parking spaces.
These new zoning regulations, if approved, will apply to new and significantly renovated buildings.
But lest you think you can sit back and wait for all the awesomeness to happen to you, WABA has a few tweaks they'd like to see before these rules are accepted.
- The requirement of 3 bicycle parking spaces to 4 units is too low. There are 0.86 bikes per household according to the 2001 National Household Travel Survey, so 0.75 space per residences will not meet current need. And WABA thinks that because each residence has more than two residences per unit, there should be two bike parking spaces per unit. But what they'd really like is a more emperical analysis of how many spaces are actually needed.
- WABA believes the allowing a building to be excused from their requirements because few people will bike to that building fails to consider the neighborhood's needs. The building that is being remodelled may not have many people biking to it, but maybe the one next door (which isn't meeting current standards) is. So a holistic approach would more rapidly address neighborhood and District-wide needs. They further want to see the exception process defined and the public space process made clear.
Unfortunately, you've missed your chance to comment on them in this round as comments were due on Monday (sorry). But there may be an opportunities to comment in the future.
I'm sorry to say that I don't know much about zoning requirements for parking, showers or lockers in the other jurisdictions, but it would be of further value if Arlington, Alexandria, Montgomery County etc...made sure that they were following best practices in regards to these items.
It does help that many areas are pushing LEED certification, and LEED certification gives points for these types of facilities.
Photo of the EPA bike storage room in the Reagan Building by BikePortland.org