Public right-of-way bicycle rack ordinance presented to City Council

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published June 12, 2013

BERKLEY — A proposed ordinance brought to the Berkley City Council during its June 5 meeting would allow the city to install bicycle racks in the public right-of-way at the request of a property or business owner.

The new ordinance, which had its first reading during the June 5 meeting, would go hand in hand with another bicycle rack ordinance that passed April 1, which required business owners to install a two-bicycle parking rack during any big construction projects. If the business owner felt there was insufficient room on their property, they could request to have one installed by the city on the same block.

That ordinance also allowed businesses the opportunity to install a four-bicycle rack and earn credit for two car parking spots, with each business required to have a set amount of parking spots available depending on the type of business.

The new, one-paragraph ordinance presented to City Council gives already-established business owners the chance to have a bicycle rack installed near their business. Any installed bicycle racks would be paid for by the business owner and be property of the city.

“A few months ago, when we adopted the other bicycle-rack ordinance, one of the things was that business owners were required to put one in, and if they didn’t have room, the city would (and it would be) still on the same block,” City Planner Amy Vansen said. “But there was no ordinance that said we could do that and we are not in position to break our own law. It is very straightforward.”

City Manager Jane Bais-DiSessa said the ordinance that passed in April was more for new businesses or any business doing construction requiring a permit. The new ordinance is aimed more toward existing businesses that may bring in a lot of bicycle traffic.

“As we moved further on, we thought about the current businesses and what they could do,” Bais-DiSessa said. “We asked the city planning to go back and take a look at this, and they came up with this recommendation to council. Here is a solution that will help current businesses out there, should they decide they would like a bicycle rack.”

If a business owner elected to have a bicycle rack, public works officials or public safety officers would inspect the location to determine if it would cause any problems with on-street parking, doorways or general traffic. The basic U-shaped rack would cost the business about $300, but more elaborate options are available.

Bais-DiSessa said she feels the new ordinance would be a great addition to what is already a bike-friendly downtown.

“We do have bike racks in the downtown area and particularly in bus areas,” she said. “There is a need to allow bicycle owners to have a place to safely leave their bikes, and we do have a bike path in our city for bicyclists to utilize. We have been working with neighboring communities on a way to potentially expand on that.

“We do care and understand there is a need and, hopefully, we can continue to address it.”

The second reading of the ordinance is planned for the June 17 City Council meeting and, if passed by the council, it would take effect 30 days after it is approved.

While Bais-DiSessa could not determine if bicycling is the preferred method of transportation for Berkley residents, she said it is one of numerous ways for residents to move around and enjoy what the city has to offer.

“I know bicycling is something many of our residents enjoy, and having bike racks gives another option for them to move around,” Bais-DiSessa said. “Residents don’t need to take cars if they don’t want to, especially in the summer, so they can walk or bike.

“We are fortunate that residents are within walking distance from their homes to restaurants and a bank and the pharmacy, so if they want to use bikes as recreation or exercise to get there, we definitely want them to utilize that.”