A small Canadian city just passed a package of progressive bike and car parking reforms rarely seen in a single North American community, and the policymakers behind it hope it will serve as a model for other micro-metros in the U.S.
On April 26, the city council of Kingston, Ontario, signed off on a new zoning bylaw that will transform the community of 130,000 into an unexpected hotbed of progressive parking laws.
In addition to joining the quickly growing ranks of cities that have abolished parking minimums for all non-residential land uses — yes, that means no more massive parking lots at new big-box stores, at least not because the city forced developers to build them — the document also imposed aggressive new parking maximums on a range of commercial and residential developments, particularly large apartment buildings. (Accessible parking spaces are still mandated where necessary, of course.) International planning consultant and urbanist Twitter celebrity Brent Toderian, who partnered with the staff on the project, said it was “one of the first medium/smaller cities [he’s] aware of” to do both things at once.
Perhaps even more novel, though, is how the bylaw will provide parking for all the other vehicles in the city of Kingston: namely, bikes and micromobility vehicles of all sizes, as well as the shared cars that advocates hope will someday help make private automobile ownership obsolete.
Those policies include:
A new “cash-in-lieu” of parking program, which allows the handful of residential developers who would still be bound to build parking to direct that money towards a municipal-led car share system instead
A new parking minimum specifically for car-share vehicles at large developments that private vehicle owners can’t use
Minimum bike parking requirements at most non-residential developments, including stores, restaurants, offices, and hospitals, as well as larger apartment buildings
Minimum secure, weatherproof bike parking requirements at locations that are likely to be a riders’ last stop of the day
Special parking requirements for developments to help residents store larger bikes used to carry cargo or make cycling accessible to people with disabilities, as well as outlets to charge those bikes if they’re electrified