by Ben Chmiel, Planner in the Community Development Department
Cycling is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the Manhattan lifestyle. Over the last 10 years, the linear footage of designated bike routes within the City has more than tripled. In that same time, the number of citizens biking to work has nearly doubled. Currently, about 1 in 50 Manhattanites bike to work on a daily basis, which is over 3x the national average!
A study conducted in 2015 suggests that over half of K-State students have a bike and about 13% of students bike daily to get to work, school, and to do their shopping. Manhattan is leading the State of Kansas in policy and infrastructure that make communities bike friendly.
Here’s a timeline of the most significant bike-related accomplishments in the last few years:
: Manhattan designated as a Bronze-Level Bicycle-Friendly Community by the League of American Cyclists and opens the State’s first Bike Boulevard on Moro Street
Manhattan reaches more than 50 miles of bike infrastructure
Manhattan opened Kansas’s first protected bike lane on North Manhattan Ave.
: Kansas State University designated as the first Bronze-Level Bicycle-Friendly Campus in Kansas and Green Apple Bikes hit the streets for the first time
Manhattan’s designation as a Bronze-Level Bicycle-Friendly Community by the League of American Cyclists renewed and Manhattan’s first bike parking requirement is instituted
Manhattan has 70 miles of bike infrastructure
We think these things are awesome! And it’s not just cyclists that benefit. There are many community-wide benefits to cycling and having a “bike friendly” community.
Benefits of a Bike-friendly Community
Public health: Bicycle friendly cities have healthier citizens, with more opportunities for both active transportation and recreational cycling as a means of exercise integrated into people’s daily lives.
So what makes a city bike friendly? Well that is a big question and the answer is not so simple. Many things add up to a city being more or less friendly to bikes. Some things are less tangible, like a city’s culture and the laws and policies about biking. Some things are more tangible, like a city’s quantity of bike lanes and trails, its diversity of land uses within short distances, if it has a bike-sharing program, and if there is bike parking provided around town. All of this will influence how many people will choose to bike or not. While bike parking is just one aspect of things that make a city bike-friendly, it is an important one.
Bike parking, in the form of bike racks:
Makes cyclists feel welcome.
Legitimizes and encourages the choice to bike.
Provides security of the bike, reducing theft.
Reduces clutter and the use of other objects as bike parking, like handrails, trees, benches, and light posts, which could be damaged by a bike.
In 2016 the City of Manhattan passed an ordinance amending the regulations of a zoning district east of the KSU campus to require bike parking for new apartment buildings at a ratio of one rack (two spaces) for every four bedrooms in a building. This was the first time bike parking was required in Manhattan and something we are proposing to apply to other zoning districts that allow apartment buildings through the UDO process and at the same ratio.
So say an apartment building has 20 apartments in it, each with 2 bedrooms, for 40 bedrooms total. It would be required to have at least 20 spaces, which could be accommodated by 10 racks.
In the same vein, we are proposing to require bike parking for non-residential uses in other zoning districts for the first time through the UDO. The ratio proposed is generally a minimum of one rack or a ratio of spaces equal to 10% of car parking spaces provided for that use, whichever is more.
So say if a grocery store has 100 car parking spaces. It would be required to have at least 10 bike parking spaces, which could be accommodated by 5 racks.
However, it’s not enough to just require bike parking. The design of bike parking is equally as important. If you’ve ever biked anywhere, you’ve probably experienced the frustration of a poorly designed or poorly placed bike rack… it’s right up against the building, a tree is in the way, you can’t lock your bike to it, your bike falls over on it, it’s located nowhere near the place you’re going, or you just don’t feel comfortable leaving your bike there... We’ve been there!
The UDO addresses this in a few different ways relating to the location and layout of a bike parking site and design of the racks to ensure that bike parking is functional and secure. For instance, the UDO proposes that bike racks…
• Have to be of an inverted-U shaped style, or a variation of that style with design parameters. These racks are optimally designed to support a bicycle without the it falling overand allow both wheels and the bike frame to be locked up.
Have to be within 25 feet of a residential building and within 50 feet of a commercial/non-residential building entrance, or closer than the closest car parking space.
Have to be visible and free of any obstructions such as a wall, shrubbery, light post, etc. and not obstructing walkways, entrances, etc.
Have to accommodate a bike of at least 6’x2’ in size, with 7 feet of head clearance.
Have to be spaced at least 30 inches apart side to side and about 8 feet front to back, if arranged in a linear series.
Have to be at least 24 inches from a parallel wall, 30 inches from a perpendicular wall, and 48 inches from a parallel or perpendicular curb.
Be identified by signage if it is not visible from the street or travel ways.
We believe these requirements will meet the increasing demand for bike parking resulting from the increase in bike activity in our community we’ve experienced over the past decade. Furthermore, these regulations will encourage more people to bike in our city, ultimately making Manhattan a more bike friendly community with all the benefits that come with it! For more information on biking in Manhattan, visit the Bicycle and Pedestrian page
of the City website.