LEED-ND Bicycle Network and Storage Credit: A Few Recommendations
With LEED-ND and other LEED rating systems open for public comment until January 14, 2011, CNU asked me to evaluate the current Bicycle Network and Storage credit (Smart Location and Linkage Credit 4), and to recommend improvements to the existing language.
Following the lead of Laurence Aurbach’s excellent comments, and the prompt of the CNU, my thoughts on the evolution of this credit are described below. However, If you would like to submit your own input, USGBC is accepting comments via the LEED Rating System Public Comment page on their website. Simply follow the sign-in instruction to make comments on the specific revised prerequisites and credits.
Okay. Let’s roll:
The Bicycle network definition has been tweaked, but could be strengthened. The current draft offers the following:
Bicycle network a continuous network consisting of any combination of
- physically designated on-street bicycle lanes at least 5 feet wide,
- off-street bicycle paths or trails constructed before 2010 that are at least 8 feet wide for a two-way path and at least 5 feet wide for a one-way path,
- off-street bicycle paths or trails constructed in or after 2010 that are at least 10 feet wide for a two-way path and at least 5 feet wide for a one-way path
- residential streets designed for a target speed of 25 miles per hour or slower
- commercial or mixed-use streets designed for a target speed of 30 miles per hour or slower.
Recommendations for the bicycle network definition:
- 5-foot lanes or greater are always preferred, and should be standard when parallel parking is present, but 4’ where no on-street parking is present is still acceptable where speeds remain at or below 35mph and vehicle volumes are relatively low.
- “Shared Use Paths” is the more favored term for “Bike Path,” as the vast majority of these facilities allow a mix of conveyances: walking, running, skating, and bicycling to name a few.
- Residential streets with a target speed of 25 miles per hour and commercial or mixed-use streets with a target speed of 30 miles per hour should only be considered as part of the bicycle network only if they are accompanied by bike route signs or preferably shared use lane markings, or sharrows.
- Physically separated bicycle lanes, or cycle tracks, and bicycle boulevards should be added as facility types.
In the credit itself, the bicycle network has to meet one of three requirements. One of which is centered on connecting the project to a bicycle network adjacent to an array of diverse uses. However, the radius of the adjacent area is 3 miles, which is quite a large area to meet the requirement. This radius should be reduced to meet the intent of the credit.
The Bicycle Storage portion of this credit has been simplified by separating the visitor or customer bicycle storage requirements from the occupant or worker bicycle storage requirements. However, both sections lack a category for mixed-use buildings—only multiunit residential, retail, and non-residential other than retail is distinguished. As we all know, mixed-use buildings have an array of users and should provide bicycle storage for visitors, workers, customers, and occupants. Under the current draft, it is unclear which category they would fall under or if they would fall under multiple categories. Moreover, some retail or commercial uses require vastly different parking requirements. Thus, most bicycle parking and storage ratios are determined by individual land uses (a gym typically requires many more spaces than an electronics store).
Standard bicycle racks, if sited and selected properly, hold at least two bicycles, yet the visitor or customer bicycle storage section is a little unclear on how many spaces are required. It also doesn’t differentiate between short and long-term bicycle parking—time allocations that should require different accommodations. Additionally, the introductory language refers to racks, yet the building type language refers to spaces. This should be made consistent and refer to spaces throughout. Basic bicycle rack performance measures—for short and long-term parking facilities—should also be included (see performance standards section below).
The occupant or worker bicycle storage requirements were reduced for retail and non-residential other than retail buildings. The proposal would reduce the amount of secure, enclosed bicycle storage per new retail worker or occupant – from 10% to 5% of worker-planned occupancy. This reduction in enclosed storage seems like a step in the wrong direction. The on-site shower with changing facility requirements for retail and non-residential other than retail buildings is unclear. The threshold is set at 100 workers, but does this kick in when the workers are all located in one business or in the development at large? If the latter, the threshold should be lowered to 50 employees. Related to the above, bicycle mode could be factored into the equation, as some districts, if not whole towns and cities, have a much higher percentage of people cycling than others, and therefore require more end-of-trip facilities. This has much to do with urban form and the quality of the existing and planned bicycle network.
The locational requirements of the different types of bicycle storage – racks vs. enclosed – are the same despite their very different purposes. A further distinction should be made here. For short-term bicycle parking, bicycle racks should be as close or closer than any available car parking and should be near the main entry. The demands for occupant and worker storage are quite different, as they are generally parked for long periods of time.
The storage requirements associated with this credit should be strengthened by adding the following basic short-term bicycle rack performance standards:
- Support the frame of the bicycle in at least two (2) locations
- Allow the frame and one wheel to be locked to the rack element when both wheels are left on the bike
- Allow the frame and both wheels to be locked to the rack if the bicyclist decides to remove the front wheel
- Allow the use of cable, chain, and U-shaped locks
- Be securely anchored to the ground and should not be capably compromised by hand tools, especially those that are easily concealed (wire cutters, screw drivers, etc)
- Be usable by bicycles with bottle cages, panniers, etc.
- Be usable by a variety of bicycle sizes and types (children’s bicycles, tricycles, folding bicycles, step-through frames, etc.)
- Keep both wheels on the ground
Additionally, specific performance standards and types should be developed for long-term bicycle parking. There are a number of good standards for bicycle networks and storage. While bicycle planning is an evolving field in North America, referring to some of these standards could improve how this credit currently functions:
- Parking Manual, Association for Bicycle and Pedestrian Professionals
- Bicycle Parking Manual, Danish Cycling Federation
- Shared Use Lane Markings in MUTCD
- Cities for Cycling Bikeway Design Guide Manual, NACTO (To be released in 2011), etc.
Finally, a notable absence to the Transportation Demand Management Credit (NPD Credit 8) is reference to bicycle sharing systems. The rapid growth of these systems has been seen around the world and their continued application should be rewarded in LEED-ND.
Overall, it is encouraging to see the content of the LEED-ND bicycle network and storage credit proposed for inclusion in other LEED Rating systems, including New Construction, Core & Shell, Schools, Retail, Data Centers, Warehouses & Distribution Centers, and Hospitality. Many of the concerns with the LEED-ND credit reappear in the other rating systems, albeit in a slightly different format, see the Building Design and Construction Public Comment Document, specifically the new prerequisite on Bicycle Storage and the Bicycle Network, Storage and Changing room credit in the Location and Transportation section.
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