On November 28th, DDOT adopted changes to bicycle parking rules at residential buildings which promptly* went into effect that day.
These regulations were first called for by Tommy Wells' Bicycle Commuter and Parking Expansion Act of 2007, made possible by the 2010 follow-on law and approved by the Council in October of this year. The residential bike parking requirements represent the most important part of that law as no requirements previously existed. This is separate from, but consistent with, the bicycle parking relevant changes to zoning that are being proposed.
Thanks to the update, all new or rehabilitated residential buildings of 8 units or more are now required to provide 1 bicycle parking space for every 3 units; but existing building will only be required to provide the lessor of 1 space for every 3 units or enough parking to meet demand - and then only at the request of a tenant. In all cases there are hardship exceptions, but even in those cases bike parking has to be provided for employees.
It goes on to define the nature of parking required. Parking should, for example, be indoors; but if not possible, then be in a secure, covered area adjacent to the building. The rules define how much space there needs to be, the clearance, lighting, accessibility, signage, etc...
Failure to comply can result in fines. So if you live in a building with below-standard parking, you now have a legal recourse to force them to add more and/or better parking.
There are a few differences between the final rules and the rules proposed in March.
- The final rules extend the 1 to 3 ratio requirement to all rehabilitated building.
- They now specify that bicycle parking has to be added only for "bicycles in operable condition"
- There is an added section allowing DDOT to mediate a dispute between the building management and residents and to make a decision about parking if the parties can't agree.
- It no longer defines a bicycle room as having walls or floor to ceiling fencing and doors that are always locked.
- In the proposed rulemaking vertical spaces could only make up 50% of all spaces, but now there just has to be at least one horizontal space.
- Gone also is a redundant section allowing a building owner to seek a hardship waiver from these requirements. They can still seek an exemption.
- There are other, more trivial changes as well.
This nearly completes the changes called for by the 2007 law, which had several parts. The first part called on DDOT to set standards, with guidance from the law, for what would be acceptable bike parking, which they have done in this rulemaking and in 2005. The second called for more parking at the Wilson Building, which was installed in 2008 and included interior parking. The third part was for a study of bike parking at Government Buildings, and that was completed in March 2010. (spoiler: there wasn't enough parking). And now, a month before Wells leaves office, the most important part is now law.
There is still one last loose end. As originally proposed and passed out of committee, the 2007 bill mandated a doubling of bicycling parking for office, retail and service uses from 5% as much bike parking as there was car parking to 10%. But before being passed into law, this was watered down (primarily due to opposition of then CM Phil Mendelsohn) to make the mandate for 5% of car spaces unless "the utilization of the minimum number of bicycle parking spaces is reaching 90% or higher during peak usage period." In which case, "the owner of a building with office, retail, or service use shall provide bicycle parking spaces at least equal to 10% of the number of automobile parking spaces provided for the building." This has effectively neutered that part of the law, since it has never become part of the DC Code and never will. Instead DDOT will wait for the Title 11 zoning update to happen, which will make this part of the law obsolete by tying bike parking at these locations to square footage instead of automobile parking spaces.
*Promptly may not be the right word. The 2007 law said that the rules should have been completed 90 days after the law went into effect. But funding issues, flaws with the law that had to be fixed in 2010 and the sense that the zoning rewrite would make the new rules obsolete conspired to delay the rules by a few thousand days. In the end there was a sense that we were in the middle of a condo building boom, so it was better to push these rules through now while they could still do a lot of good rather than wait for the eternally delayed zoning update. Unlike with the existing commercial parking requirement, there was no existing requirement for residential bike parking until last week, though many buildings were installing it anyway. The new rules will also help with existing buildings.