Reasonable Bike Facilities for Employees in Minneapolis?

Gary Schiff has a proposal for regulations on bike facilities that sounds pretty interesting. In a nutshell, once a building reaches a certain size, accommodating cyclists should be obvious (but isn’t, thus the proposal):

Schiff will introduce the issue at tomorrow’s City Council meeting, but said most of the details still need to be worked out. The idea, he said, came from the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee.

The ordinance for downtown development only kicks in when a building tops 500,000 square feet. As developments get bigger, they need more bike parking stalls, lockers and showers. The minimum is 30 stalls, four showers and 15 lockers.

500k square feet is a pretty big chunk of real estate. As this LA Times article points out, typical office space runs around 200 square feet per person. Even if it’s 500, that’s would mean that a building would need to accomodate 1,000 people before Schiff’s proposal would kick in.

Does is seem reasonable to assume that 3% of employees in a building housing 1,000 or more people in Minneapolis would commute by bike and appreciate having access to bike parking, lockers, and showers? It sure does? Would those businesses benefit from building a locker room instead of 30 additional parking spots? It sure seems like it. This doesn’t seem like something that will meet much resistance, but I could be wrong.

7 thoughts on “Reasonable Bike Facilities for Employees in Minneapolis?”

  1. Businesses should be alowed to decide what perks they want to add to attract employees. More rules like this, social engineering, will drive more downtown businesses out to the suburbs. My own company has 6 showers for 10,000 employees. THey’re also expanding and building out all new office space outside of downtown.
    – what about buildings that are mixed use, lots of companies in the space but no one wiht more than 1000 employees who would manage the space? Clean the showers? Insure that access is restricted to appropriate genders and employees in the building? There’s liability issues with a shower. In my building employees have to sign up for access.
    I think this is a bad idea.

  2. I wonder if there’s a better way to approach this. Could we offer carrots instead of sticks? I strongly favor the end goal of more bicycle-friendly buildings and workplaces. I don’t know if regulations are the way to get there. Could we come up with some incentives instead?

  3. I’d like to see Minneapolis work on setting up a public “bike center” in the core of downtown. Something like the Freewheel Midtown Bike Center on the Greenway, but convenient for people who work in the heart of downtown, where the largest buildings are. Something with shower facilities, secure bike parking, lockers, workspace for emergency repairs, and maybe attached to a bike shop selling parts, clothing, and accessories – basically, everything a bike commuter could want and need. Several other cities have these set up. See http://www.bikeandpark.com. I’ve noticed several unoccupied spaces on the ground floor level of buildings on 6th and 7th that might serve as a good location for this. Also, something like this would eliminate the last excuses for people who say “I would commute by bike, but . . . where would I change/shower/safely store my bike/fix a flat, etc.” I wonder what Mr. Schiff and/or the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee think?

  4. How much downtown real estate would you like to see taken off the city’s tax rolls to accommodate this small minority of bicycle riders, Marc?

  5. @Sank, good point about mixed use buildings. That could be a challenge. That said, we have building codes today regulating how much car parking buildings must provide, so enabling cleaner, less resource-intensive (roads, fuel, parking requirements) transportation options seems reasonable.

    @Jeff, carrots could get it done. Tax credits for adding facilities, perhaps?

    @Marc, I dig that idea. Some people use downtown gyms like Lifetime for that sort of thing today, but at a very high cost.

    @Rat, what if it was built on taxpayer-draining land like a street?

  6. @ Ed – I’m glad you dig the idea of a downtown Minneapolis bike center. There will be lots of opportunities to establish a facility like this in the not-too-distant future: think of the planned transit hub near Target Field, the planned downtown east development with the new Vikings stadium, the planned redevelopment of Hennepin, of Nicollet. We have lots of possibilities here; the idea needs to be driven and to get some real traction with the people and organizations that could make it happen.

    @ Rat – a bike center would not take up all that much space. A nice one could be built with about 5,000 square feet. There is a lot of vacant space on the ground floor level of many downtown buildings. A bike center would definitely add value to any building, and I think the impact on tax revenues would be negligible. And, to be certain, a bike center would need to be subsidized to some degree – but it still wouldn’t cost all that much, when you think of how much taxpayer money is spent on other forms of transportation. Long Beach, CA has had a bike station since the mid-1990, and, after revenue from user fees, it costs only about $40,000 per year to the city to operate. If you proposed spending $5-10 million on a park-n-ride facility that would never have a chance of recouping its cost, I’m sure no one would bat an eye. We “small minority of bicycle riders” aren’t asking for much, when you compare what we are asking for with the multi-billions spent every year for facilities for motorists, on a no-questions-asked basis.

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