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New construction, expansions in Kalamazoo must furnish bike racks

Keith Edkins
Creative Commons

New or expanding businesses in the City of Kalamazoo will be required to include space to park bicycles.

Mayor Bobby Hopewell says it is part of a broader plan to promote sustainability.

“We talk about wanting to attract young people and keep young people; we talk about wanting to be a vibrant urban core community. These are the things that urban communities do. They recognize that we can’t only be about the automobile, we have to be about how everyone gets around in the community.”

Only new buildings or those that are expanding are mandated to accommodate bike racks. The number required depends on how many people will use the building, with a maximum of 25 spaces required. Existing public and private entities will be encouraged to add places for their customers and employees to park their bikes.

At first, City Commissioner Barbara Miller was worried the new bike rack regulations would turn off businesses. “I know they can ask for variances, but even that is one more hoop that they have to jump through,” Miller said, before eventually admitting she was convinced to vote for the measure.

 Bob Cinabro and other city commissioners voiced similar concerns.  He noted the amount of space needed to make room for ten bikes is equal to one parking space for a car.

“I don’t want to see increased burdens (on businesses)…I don’t think this is going to represent the type of burden that would drive businesses away.”

Ryan Simpson, Director of Advocacy at the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce urged passage of the new rules, citing a desire to make Kalamazoo more pedestrian and bicycle friendly and keep it as the area’s urban core. Mayor Bobby Hopewell called it good regulation.

“I think we will see that as it bears out and I think we’ve had it demonstrated by some of our businesses putting in as many as they have. If you go to Bell’s Brewery they have about 20 bicycle racks and they’re often full.”

Kalamazoo based their new local law on similar rules already set in Grand Rapids, Battle Creek and Ann Arbor.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station'sAmplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.