After years focused on expanding bike lanes and boulevards, Portland city leaders have turned their attention to improving the end of cyclists' commutes.
City commissioners are considering a host of updates to Portland’s zoning code that would require new buildings include more convenient and secure bike parking. Officials from the city’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and Bureau of Transportation presented their proposed changes to commissioners Wednesday afternoon.
The current amendments would require all new buildings in Portland larger than five units to provide some form of bike parking. If the building has 12 units or less, the parking could be located inside the apartment near the main entrance. For larger buildings, at least half of the parking would need to be in a dedicated bike room. Space would need to be made for large bikes and those that need electric sockets to charge. All long-term parking spaces would need to be covered and well-lit.
Members of a Latino-led cycling advocacy group, Andando en Bicicletas y Caminando, urged the commission to adopt the proposed changes. The group’s program coordinator, Miche Lozano, told city leaders that many of the group’s members lacked sufficient bike storage and are targeted by landlords for keeping their bikes on balconies and inside their homes.
“This impacts our ability to transport ourselves to work, to the grocery store to feed our families, and it negatively impacts our overall health,” said Lozano. “Not having access to dignified, secure and long-term bike storage close to home and work creates barriers that affect the most vulnerable people in our community.”
But some worry that the changes the city’s considering will make it more difficult to build affordable housing.
Diane Linn, the executive director of affordable housing provider Proud Ground and a member of the Portland Housing Advisory Commission, called bike space “critically important,” but said she worried the sweeping updates would “overload” buildings and their developers who are already dealing with a host of city-imposed requirements.
“We just wanted to put it out there that we're concerned about how we pay for and support achieving this value,” she said.
She added that a new 64-unit affordable housing project that Proud Ground is working on in Northeast Portland would have likely had to cut either a unit of housing or a bedroom if it were forced to take into account the proposed changes.
Commissioner Chloe Eudaly introduced an ordinance Wednesday to ensure that the new requirements won’t impact affordable housing currently in the pipeline. The ordinance makes an exemption for 18 projects that Eudaly said it would have been “incredibly costly” to revise.
The commission plans to vote on the amendments to the zoning code next Wednesday, Nov. 20.