It seems the only way New York City can get secure, free public parking for bicycles is for communities, council members, or city planners to demand such amenities when granting lucrative rezonings to private developers. .
In a little-noticed footnote to a rezoning proposal unanimously approved last week by a Brooklyn community council, a development company called Totem pledged to include a free bicycle parking station with more than 100 seats for the public in its new building on Atlantic Avenue near Franklin Avenue C and the shuttle stations.
This is the second time Totem has won a zoning change following the promise of public bicycle parking built into the plan (among other community amenities including a high percentage of units below market rate).
“If you’re coming to the neighborhood looking for a zoning change, ideally you want to include amenities – and private developers should do whatever they can to encourage cycling,” said Tucker Reed, director of Totem. “Bicycle parking is one of those amenities because it’s so important. I stole several bikes. And if that’s your way of getting around, getting your bike stolen is a big deal.
Reed also added bicycle parking to its development at Sunset Park, which was approved in March. In this building, council member Carlos Menchaca pleaded for reserved bicycle parking for delivery people, in addition to other members of the public.
New York has long failed to create large, secure, European-style bicycle parking at major destinations or near public transportation. Indeed, the builders of the new $ 1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall (looking at you, Gov. Cuomo) missed a great opportunity to seamlessly include bicycle parking (the kind you see in stations in Holland). And the city didn’t make such a request when it approved a rezoning to create a 1,415-story tower next to Grand Central a few years ago (point of information – there isn’t even benches on this square!). Yes, developer SL Green offered $ 200 million in upgrades, but creating hundreds of secure bicycle parking spots would have added less than a million to the development company’s costs. The problem: None of the players in the city’s Uniform Land Use Review process requested it. And there are dozens of zoning change requests every year.
“The cost of these things is minimal – like a rounding error,” said Shabazz Stuart, the founder of Oonee, who creates the bicycle parking spaces in the two Totem buildings. “It’s literally nothing. I use two four-letter words in all my discussions with the city: “free” and “easy”. We can create free bicycle parking spaces, you just have to ask for it in ULURP. It is a model that the city should adopt at all levels.
Each of these rezoning requests “could incorporate secure public bicycle parking spaces at the request of advocates, communities and elected officials,” added Stuart.
Reed said he hopes developers will see the benefits of including secure parking for bicycles as part of their neighborhood amenity package, but such things take time in a dying culture.
“It’s a matter of awareness,” he said. “The development process carries so much risk – political, financial, construction – that most developers take a cookie-cutter approach until consumers ask for things. As more people cycle, more community councils and council members may demand that the buildings themselves become more bicycle-friendly.
Certainly someone has to do something in the absence of action from the city. It may not seem so crucial in a city where cyclists have made a habit of locking their bikes at the nearest parking sign, but the lack of secure parking for bikes remains a huge obstacle for many cyclists. A Transportation Alternatives said the parking shortage – London has 7,500 secure bicycle spaces while New York has virtually none – is the second most common reason people choose not to ride. bike.
The lack of bicycle parking is also hurting local businesses, the group showed.
Obviously, using the ULURP process to secure bicycle parking is not the only way to achieve this important policy goal, but it can clearly help achieve the goal in new buildings. Stuart is still working on several ways to bring free parking for bicycles to New York City, including responding if the city is looking for proposals for curbside facilities and larger facilities like bus shelters. These facilities would be part of the same network as public bike stations in private buildings, Stuart said.