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Towson leaders peddle law mandating bike parking at new development

Transportation alternatives necessary with massive growth planned for downtown, they say

By Jon Meoli, jmeoli@tribune.com

11:54 AM EDT, June 26, 2013

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Representatives from the Towson community expressed support during a Baltimore County Council work session Tuesday for legislation that mandates bike parking in new Towson developments.

"We're going through an extraordinary period of growth and development in the Towson area, and we need to find ways that we can reduce the single-person-per-car use," Paul Hartman, president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations, said. "By encouraging bicycles, I think that's a very important step. By having a place that's safe for folks to lock up a bicycle, you can encourage more people to use them and go to whatever shops or residences are in the area."

The legislation, which was introduced earlier this month by Councilman David Marks, provides a formula to determine the number of bike parking spaces each building must provide. It also calls for design standards for the bike racks.

The proposed law stipulates that for every new project, developers must determine the necessary number of bike parking spaces by multiplying by .03, the number of off-street parking spaces required by County Code. If that number is less than .5, no bike parking would be necessary. Otherwise, the amount of bike spaces must be rounded up to the nearest whole number, the legislation states.

The bike parking bill also stipulates that the parking be located on the property of the development in a well-lit and safe place.

A vote on the legislation is planned for July 1.

The bike parking bill comes as traffic concerns over Towson are growing. The May 1 announcement of the $60 million 101 YORK student housing building at York and Towsontown Boulevard, as well as last week's announcement of the $300 million mixed-use development Towson Row, have given momentum to traffic-calming efforts, officials said.

"I think most residents in Towson realize we need to push biking, walking and smart transit wherever we can, because there's very little room to add more roads," Marks said.

Allysha Lorber, co-chair of the 5th District Pedestrian and Bicycle Advocacy Committee, said bike parking "is a critical piece of an integrated transportation network, and Towson is seriously lacking adequate bicycle parking.

"Towson has a lot to gain by becoming a more multi-modal community that has a safe and interconnected network for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit," Lorber, a Loch Hill resident, said. "As Towson continues to grow, it becomes even more important to provide choices in transportation so people don't have to sit in traffic congestion and pay expensive parking fees to come and work, shop and dine in downtown Towson."

Since Marks formed the 5th District Pedestrian and Bicycle Advocacy Committee in 2011, the group has secured $100,000 in state funding for a "Bike Beltway" in Towson, which features bike lanes and road signage on a network of Towson roads.

Mary Herbranson, development coordinator for the advocacy group, Bike Maryland, said the bike parking legislation "is an absolutely instrumental push for bicycling and sustainability across the state."

The legislation was also supported by Ann Greenbaum, a visiting instructor of kinesiology at Towson University.

"Students need transportation into Towson, and a lot of them have bicycles and would like to use that mode of transportation," she said.

The bike parking legislation will be voted on at 6 p.m., Monday July 1 in the Council Chambers.