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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane City Council considers lowering car parking requirements in favor of bike parking

Joseph Peterson and his daughter, Ivy, 2, saw their shadow on a brilliant Wednesday morning bike ride, May 5, 2021, in downtown Spokane’s Riverfront Park.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Developers constructing new buildings in Spokane may no longer need to build as many parking spaces, so long as parking for bikes is built instead.

An ordinance introduced at Monday’s Spokane City Council meeting would allow developers to substitute up to 25% of a new building’s required car parking spaces with bicycle parking. It would take four short-term or one long-term bicycle parking space to replace one of the development’s required car parking spaces.

Car parking requirements in Spokane vary dramatically based on a new building’s use, such as an office versus a residence, with additional exceptions and allowances based on an area’s zoning and other factors.

Changes to these requirements, including the proposed bicycle parking space substitution, only apply to new development, although older buildings may have to meet new standards if they expand or are moved to a new location.

“What we hear from the biking community is they’re not wanting to bike downtown or to restaurants, neighborhood businesses, because they have nowhere to park their bikes,” said Councilman Zack Zappone, who sponsored the ordinance along with Council President Breean Beggs, in a brief Tuesday interview.

“This is about creating the infrastructure for what we want to incentivize and build,” he added.

Zappone pointed to the city’s 2017 Bicycle Master Plan, which laid out goals to reach 5% of all trips in Spokane taken on a bicycle by 2037. The master plan noted that just under 1% of Spokane residents rode their bikes to work in 2010, according to census data.

“I think this is an exciting opportunity to make investments in our biking infrastructure in the city, and planning for a future where people have different options,” Zappone added.

Zappone, who sponsored the “Pavement to People” ordinance that passed Feb. 27 and incentivizes turning downtown parking lots into housing, noted he was also looking at broader changes to parking requirements, the exact details of which he has not clarified.