Carmel City Council considers mandating bicycle parking, employee showers for some new buildings

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Bicycle parking and employee showers could be mandatory additions to new buildings of a certain size in Carmel. The Carmel City Council is considering whether to add these requirements to the city’s zoning ordinance, but many local business owners are resisting this change.

City Councilor Bruce Kimball, the bill’s sponsor, emphasized that existing businesses would not be required to make changes unless they underwent a major remodel. The change is aimed more at employees who bike to work, Kimball said, rather than customers who bike to businesses.

Mo Merhoff, president of OneZone, said the organization supports making the city more bicycle friendly but many of the members think the free market should decide that.

“That should be a developer or tenant’s choice, not a mandate from the city,” she said.

Kimball said a formula will be used to calculate how much space a business needs to devote to bicycle parking so very small businesses aren’t adversely affected.

When it comes to employee showers, an industrial, office, medical or financial service building would be required to have one shower at 12,500 square feet of gross floor area, two showers at 30,000 square feet and four showers at 50,000 square feet or more. Retail or restaurant buildings would only be required to build one shower if it is larger than 25,000 square feet and two showers if the building is larger than 100,000 square feet. Four personal lockers must be designated for every shower.

City Councilor Sue Finkam mentioned the one bike locker for every 20 employees would have meant around 75 bike lockers for some companies, such as healthcare facilities in the Meridian corridor, that have 1,400 employees. She said 75 lockers is a lot for new construction.

“That’s an expensive space,” she said. “I’m challenged by that ration. I can’t imagine a business being happy spending that kind of capital.”

City Councilor Carol Schleif wondered if it could be phased in over 10 years. She said she wants to encourage bicycle parking but thinks it might take time and she doesn’t want to hurt business growth.

Council President Ron Carter mentions that some buildings, such as Sophia Square, are a “disaster” when it comes to bicycle parking, especially considering that some bikes cost more than $1,000.

“It’s a real problem for people that own these bikes,” he said.

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