B.C. Cycling Coalition executive director wants housing laws changed to allow bikes in suites

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      One of Vancouver’s most vocal cycling advocates wants the province to make it easy for people to park bikes inside their housing units.

      As things stand now, many tenants and condo owners are required to park their bikes in underground garages because they’re prohibited from bringing them upstairs.

      That's because of rules imposed by landlords and strata councils

      That can leave these two-wheelers vulnerable to theft.

      “These bikes are sometimes expensive,” B.C. Cycling Coalition executive director Richard Campbell told the Georgia Straight. “Even if there is bike parking, people might not want it down there.”

      Last year in Victoria, police warned about a rash of break-ins in underground garages, with many bicycles being taken from supposedly secure locations. It’s also been an issue in Vancouver and North Vancouver.

      Campbell said there’s an easy way to prevent bike thefts and encourage more cycling at the same time.

      According to him, this could be achieved if the NDP government simply amended the Residential Tenancy Act and the Strata Property Act to make it illegal to prevent people from taking bicycles into their suites.

      “There’s bike parking required [in many cases], but often I call it ‘bike storage’,” Campbell said. “There’s this room and you have to get to it down a vehicle ramp and it’s behind a couple of doors. So by the time you get down there, it’s five minutes of extra time.

      “Some people are actually using the bike-share instead of their own bike because they can just walk outside and get one,” he continued. “And they don’t have to worry about it being stolen.”

      In some older Vancouver apartment blocks, bikes are even more at risk because they’re simply left against the wall in underground parkades.

      This occurs because the city only imposes bicycle-parking requirements on dwellings built after 1995 with three or more units.

      Older buildings are only required to have bike-parking facilities if the owner seeks a permit for an expansion. 

      If it were illegal to stop people from bringing bikes into their suites, Campbell said that landlords and strata councils would have to provide incentives, such as safer and more accessible underground storage.

      The city requires bicycle parking to be “no lower than the first complete parking level” in an underground lot. Exceptions can be made if an elevator “provides a direct link to the outside”.

      Campbell said that in the Netherlands, on the other hand, there is a requirement that bike parking must be more conveniently located than any car parking. This means that people often have to walk by their bike to reach a vehicle.

      He suggested that the province could make it easier for landlords to develop better bike storage by providing a provincial-sales-tax rebate on construction materials used in creating these facilities.

      Campbell pointed out that the upside of more convenient bike parking, including in people’s suites, is a higher likelihood that people will cycle rather than drive or use transit to reach their destinations. This can leave more room on the roads and in transit vehicles for those who don’t have other options.

      “You really do need to start addressing these issues holistically,” he said.