Fairfax County seeks to boost bicycle parking with new requirements for developers

Bicycles parked outside the Greensboro Metro station entrance in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County hopes to increase the availability of bicycle parking spaces by establishing a tiered system that sets minimum requirements for developers.

At a land use committee meeting last week, the Board of Supervisors received an update on the county’s Parking Reimagined project, a comprehensive overhaul of the county’s three-decade-old parking requirements.

One goal is to increase bicycle parking availability, potentially by setting minimum requirements for any new construction, change in use of a building, or expansion of an already-existing development. The requirement would vary based on density — essentially the inverse of the tiered system proposed for car parking, which the county hopes to reduce in high-density, transit-oriented areas.

“The minimum bicycle parking requirement increases as auto parking minimums decrease within the tiered framework, reflecting enhanced abilities to use this mode of transportation within higher density and intensity development areas,” county staff said in a white paper. “Overall, minimum bicycle parking requirements are expected to encourage more biking as the community will begin to expect these parking facilities to be [placed] at their destinations.”

At a minimum, any new construction will have to provide two bicycle parking spaces. From there, the number of required spaces will depend on the type of construction, location, and number of vehicle parking spaces.

A bicycle parking space is defined as an outdoor rack or a built storage facility.

Most developments — from apartment buildings and other multifamily dwellings to museums — would need to match 5% to 15% of the provided car parking spots. The denser an area is, the higher the percentage it will be required to meet.

For example, a community swim club located in the Tysons Urban Center would need bicycle spots equal to 15% of the number of car parking spots. If there are 20 spots for cars or other motorized vehicles, there has to be at least three spots for bicycles.

A shopping center in a suburban neighborhood along the Richmond Highway Corridor would face a 10% minimum. So, if there are 100 vehicle parking spots, there needs to be 10 available for bikes.

The potential for increased availability of parking in the county has been met with strong support from local bicycling advocates.

The Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling has followed the Parking Reimagined initiative closely since it launched last year and has advocated for bicycle parking requirements from the beginning. While not perfect, FABB President Bruce Wright believes “they are a start.”

“Creating more space for secure bike parking encourages greener transportation, frees up land for housing or green space, and most importantly, is more equitable,” Wright said in a statement to FFXnow. “Requiring bike parking in the zoning ordinance is a major accomplishment.”

However, he said the requirements remain “insufficient” and believe that demand, especially in multifamily dwellings, will far outweigh supply if developers only meet the proposed minimum.

More public hearings and engagement opportunities on the plan will be scheduled for the remainder of this year and into early January.

County staff plan to bring a final Parking Reimagined draft plan incorporating public feedback back to the Board of Supervisors sometime in early 2023.

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