Last year, as part of its ever-so-hesitant embrace of things that aren't cars, the city of Dallas eased its parking requirements a bit. The idea was that, by shrinking the sea of asphalt the city requires shops and restaurants to surround themselves with, the measure would help foster the denser, more walkable development the city hopes to encourage.
But that was the beginning, not the end, of the city's parking revisions. Currently on the City Council's plate are three more parking tweaks: One does away entirely with the requirement that downtown shops and small restaurants provide parking; another would allow robotic parking warehouses; the third would require every new development in the city to offer parking for bicycles.
The latter provision is probably the most far-reaching, since it will touch every corner of the city, from a new Walmart in far North Dallas to mixed-use developments downtown. Business have long been encouraged to add bike parking, says David Cossum, the assistant director of the city's planning department. "We felt like if we're serious about this we probably need to start requiring bike parking as part of new development," as has been done in Austin, New York, and elsewhere.
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So, assuming the council approves the measure, tentatively slated to be on the agenda in August, every new store, restaurant, apartment complex, et cetera will be required to offer one bike parking space for every 25 car spaces.
"At the same time you do get a reduction in automobile parking," Cossum says. For ever six bike-parking spaces -- which take up about the same amount of space as a car -- a business' requirement for automobile parking drops by one. "We saw it as kind of a zero-sum game if you will."
Similarly, city staff decided that there was no need to require most stores and restaurants downtown to offer parking since they are overwhelmingly frequented by people who live or work within walking distance.
As for the robotic parking warehouses -- "You park your car in a bay, and a platform whisks it away away," in Cossum's words -- they just seemed like a good idea to allow. No one's tried to build one in Dallas, save for a simple, two-tiered lift system installed at a multifamily development near Bryan Place, but the city will now be ready if they do.