Nelson council hopes adding more and better designed bicycle racks downtown will help encourage people to leave their cars at home.
At a meeting Monday night, council unanimously endorsed a new bicycle parking design guideline, which outlines best practises for bike rack styles and siting for both short and long term bicycle parking infrastructure.
“A lot of the bike racks out there are designed in a way that makes it difficult to encourage people to ride bikes — they’re often very flimsy, or wreck bicycles and wheels, or they’re not secure,” explained Nelson development manager Dave Wahn. “These design guidelines aim to rectify that.”
The guidelines will be provided to businesses and developers who want to install bike racks either voluntarily or as part of their zoning requirements. The new draft off-street parking and landscaping bylaw currently being circulated for public review proposes bike parking as a requirement for all newly constructed commercial buildings and for multi-unit residential properties with more than 10 dwellings — for example, the forthcoming Nelson Commons development.
According to the 2011 census, 3.8 per cent of Nelsonites bike to work — well above the provincial average of 2.1 per cent.
Councillor Paula Kiss suggested more people would commute downtown by bicycle if it were easier to find a place to park them.
“Part of the reason I stopped riding by bike to work was that I had nowhere to park it, short or tying it to the Fortis gas meter or parking it on a no-parking sign half a block away,” she said.
The city has purchased two new bike racks to replace some at the Nelson Public Library that are a particularly bad design. Wahn suggested the public works department could continue adding a few new bike racks around Nelson each year, including some designed by local artists.
“We envision having competitions through the cultural development committee to encourage artist to submit their ideas for ‘art bike racks’ that meet the design criteria,” he said.
Mayor John Dooley expressed some frustration about cyclists who attach their bikes to parking meters or lean them against buildings, obstructing the sidewalk. He wondered if a bylaw could be developed to fine people who don’t park their bikes at designated racks. But council didn’t share his view.
“Given the choice, any cyclist would rather have their bike on a properly designed rack,” Kiss said, in response to Dooley’s suggestion. “We can’t go after people who lock their bikes to sign posts, if we don’t offer them a viable alternative.”
The new guidelines suggest that all bicycle racks should:
• Support the bicycle in at least two places, to prevent it from falling over;
• Allow locking of the frame and one or both wheels with a U‐style lock;
• Be securely anchored to the ground, floor, or building;
• Be resistant to cutting, rusting, bending, and deformation; and
• Provide easily accessible bicycle parking spaces that do not require moving another bicycle for access or maneuvering.