Many jurisdictions prescribe bicycle parking facilities in zoning by-laws and other planning or development guidelines. Legislation levels the playing field for developers, building owners or property managers who are required to supply facilities.

By-laws should provide formulas for bicycle parking that give clear instructions on number of spaces to be provided, the type of parking that should be supplied, preferred rack designs, and guidelines on site planning and placement of facilities. The provision of end of trip facilities like change-rooms, showers and locker at workplaces should also be spelled out. Reduced requirements for car parking where minimum requirements for bicycle facilities are exceeded may also add value to planning or development guidelines.

By-laws & guidelines should include the following:

  • Class I bike parking prescribed racks, restricted access secure enclosures, weather protection
  • Class II bike parking prescribed racks, accessibility to destinations, visibility
  • Bike parking prescribed for commercial, industrial, institutional, office, cultural/recreational facilities
  • Secure, weather-protected bicycle parking prescribed for all workplaces, multi-unit residential (Class I resident/ Class II visitor)
  • Distance (no more than 15m/50ft from nearest entrance) or no further than closest car parking space (shopping, workplaces, multi-unit residential)
  • Typically, by-laws prescribe bicycle parking at 5-10% of car parking requirements
  • Change-rooms, showers and lockers shall be provided in appropriate amounts for both genders
  • Footprints and site plan guidelines
  • Provisions for variances

Legislative prescriptions are being adopted in many jurisdictions and often include these essential elements. There are also some unique provisions, emerging trends and some surprising idiosyncracies. Iowa City, for example, spells out that where a bike rack is available within a block or 300 feet of a destination, it must be used and prohibits locking bikes to parking meters, signposts or other street furniture.

Many cities also are including a parking exchange formula in their bylaws (Canada) and ordinances (U.S.). These often allow developers or building managers to reduce the number of vehicle parking spaces where they are providing bicycle parking and other destination facilities.

Most legislation applies to new construction, but New York City, for example, has recently passed legislation to oblige building owners and managers to allow cyclists access to elevators and offices where secure, workplace bike parking is otherwise unavailable.

The inverted "U" is prescribed or preferred in many jurisidicitions and Bend, Oregon, for example, also has numbers of locations where covered parking is also required. Some cities like Oakland and San Francisco also mandate provision of valet parking at large scale public events. Victoria (Australia) includes an interesting approach using "Decision Guidelines" to ensure that the provision of bike parking is an important consideration for the "appropriate authorities".

Condominiums and apartments are a real problem and some jurisdictions continue to allow prohibitions that disallow tenants or owners from bringing bicycles into their units.

Examples of Legislation

  • Madison, Wisconsin (pdf)
  • Portland, Oregon (html)
  • Seattle, Washington (pdf)
  • Vancouver, British Columbia (pdf)
  • San Francisco, California (html)
  • Saanich, British Columbia (html)
  • Victoria, British Columbia (pdf)
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts (pdf)
  • Kansas City, Missouri (web)
  • Washington, DC (proposed) (html)
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (pdf)
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (pdf)
  • New York, New York (html)
  • Toronto, Ontario (htm)
  • Arlington, Virginia (html)
  • Bend, Oregon (pdf)
  • Oakland, California (web)
  • Louisville, Kentucky (pdf)
  • Waltham Forest, (U.K.) (pdf)
  • Victoria (Australia) (pdf)
  • San Jose, California (Title 20 Section 90 Part 4,(pdf)
  • Ottawa, Ontario(html)
  • Cambridge, UK(web)

See also: Chicago Bike 2015 Plan, which sets out objectives for improved bike parking measures. (html)