Amid the soaring popularity of cycling, building courtyards and bike sheds are often full, forcing people to lock up their bicycles on the footpaths in front of buildings.
The Munich city council, a coalition of the centre-left Social Democratic Party and environmentalist Greens, is now proposing a “bicycle parking by-law,” under which builders of residential or commercial properties will need to also make room for set number of bike spaces, according to daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.
The move is part of the Bavarian capital's efforts to boost cycling's share of daily local transport from the current 14 percent to 20 percent over the next few years.
“To make cycling more attractive, cyclists need to be able to park adequately,” said Munich deputy mayor Hep Monatzeder, a member of the Greens.
New residential buildings will need to have one bike parking spot for every 40 square metres of living space. The council is also prescribing the parking space needed – for each bike, 1.5 square metres of room.
The spaces also need to be easily and safely accessible and, as far as possible, undercover. And to prevent the kind of chaos that can arise from having a bare room as a bike shed, architects will also need to plan for racks or bike stands.
With the push for a more cycling-friendly city, Munich is modeling itself on Copenhagen, where more than half of residents get around on bikes.
A metropolitan studies expert from the Technical University Berlin, Johannes Novy, told The Local that the lack of parking within buildings and the resulting fear of cyclists about theft of their bikes from the street was a major barrier to increasing the numbers of dedicated cyclists.
The Munich plan was therefore a “major step forward.”
“It is also a matter of justice, as parking for cars has long been regulated and enforced by local governments,” he said.
At the same time, public spending on car infrastructure still dwarfed the money committed to cycling.
“More and bolder steps are needed to realize the full potential of bicycling as a transportation mode and provide equal rights to cyclists both on cities' roads as well as in their political arenas,” he said.
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A few smaller cities in Germany already have such statutes, including Nuremberg in Bavaria and Hilden in North Rhine-Westphalia. Chief traffic planner in Nuremberg, Frank Jülich, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that initial complaints had died down in that city.
“It was suggested to us that we would only make building more complicated,” he said. But now, architects were used to the regulation and complied without protest.
The new law in Munich will not apply to existing buildings, meaning in the densely populated districts full of old buildings, the city cannot compel owners to make bike parking spaces.