Why get bike parking into your district plan?
Including bike parking in district plans is a great opportunity to get more and better bike parking in your town. It means you are not relying on luck and goodwill to get bike parking included in new developments or major refurbishments. And bike parking is important in order to facilitate and normalise bike use.
Looking at this blog post, or even just thinking about district plans and councils, you might feel overwhelmed. It can feel quite daunting the first time, but It’s not that hard really – once you’ve got the right information and know how things work. This article aims to bring you the background you need along with things that are handy to know to get the best outcome, and things I wish I’d known. I’ll also give you some things to watch out for, or better yet, ways to be proactive to get a better outcome. But if you want the quick and dirty, just skip to the end where I provide some sample content you could use in a submission or as a basis for a pre-consultation discussion (recommended).
It is worth the effort to get quality requirements into your district plan as it will make bike parking just a normal part of new developments and major refurbishments – just like car parking, disabled access and fire safety. If your district plan covers car parking, it should cover bike parking too.
What is a District Plan?
Here’s a formal definition:
The Resource Management Act 1991 requires councils to prepare a District Plan.
The District Plan is the main document that sets the framework for managing land use and development within a local authority. It contains objectives, policies and rules to address resource management issues such as the effects of land use and subdivision, noise and traffic. The rules of the District Plan set out what activities you can do as of right (permitted activities) and what activities you’ll need resource consent for. These rules cover things like residential development, subdivision of land, the height and location of buildings, commercial and industrial developments, heritage and noise.
This handy diagram shows that the things influencing Land Transport and our built environment. You can see that a lot of other policy impacts on district plans and that is a handy thing to know and reference.
Source Quality Planning Website.
How is Bike Parking relevant to a District Plan?
The way I look at it is that the District Plan is the rule book for what developers (people) can do on private land. Public land, like roads and footpaths have their own sets of rules. So if you want shops, apartment buildings, schools and hospitals to have bike parking, and if you want workplaces with end of trip facilities then you either need to rely on the understanding and forethought of the developer (risky!) or you need to make sure it is clearly stipulated as a requirement in the District Plan. And if you don’t want poor quality, poorly located and not-fit-for-purpose bike parking (which just ‘ticks a box’), you need some basic minimum design and quantity requirements included too.
What are ‘End of Trip Facilities’?
End of Trip Facilities is a term encompassing not only bike parking but the other things you might need if are cycling to work. That may include showers, lockers, drying facilities, etc. These facilities can be also pretty useful for other staff who run or play sport at lunchtimes thus encouraging a healthier more active workplace.
How are changes made to a District Plan?
District Plans must be reviewed every 10 years. Councils can also do a full plan review if they want to, or a rolling review of one (or more) parts at a time. The RMA sets out a process for preparing or changing a plan, which allows for public input. Participating in the development of district and regional plans provides the best way for you to influence the future of your environment. For more information check out this guide.
How can I have my say?
Get in early, really early
Public submissions are sought after the plan changes have already been drafted. For a better outcome, engage with the planners much earlier. Find out when the plan is being reviewed and talk to the planners responsible before it even gets to the formal public submission phase. Once a draft is out for review it can be much harder to get council officers to amend the position or approach they are invested in.
- Learn about the process for making and proposing plan changes.
- Find out when your plan is due for review – ask your council or check their website.
- If possible, find a supportive planner, perhaps someone who has an interest in place-making, active transport or sustainable policy. Otherwise just find the person charged with the review.
- Meet with them and understand their process and talk about what you want to achieve.
- Provide them with really useful information and examples (see below).
You can make a submission.
There is an example below. Here is a link to a handy guide on making a submission on your district plan.
Provide useful information
Provide the planners with hard facts and reliable examples which they can include in their evaluation reports. It might sound like doing their job for them, but if you can make it easy and provide information they can rely on then you are more likely to get a favourable outcome. It helps a lot if you show best practices from councils elsewhere – it makes it less scary and easier for them to manage objections if they have proof that it is working elsewhere. Try and make your examples relevant to the size and type of council you are talking to, so look for similar councils with good quality bike parking in their district plans.
Bear in mind they might not ride a bike or have any interest or concern about bike parking. They are trying to accomplish a big task in limited time. Help make it easy for them in order to get a great outcome.
Get a Councillor on-board
It also helps to find a supportive councillor, talk to them about what you are proposing, and help them know what questions to ask of the District Plan committee members. If they are on the committee or panel who will hear submissions and make decisions it is even better.
Build a strong foundation
Make your request consistent with the strategies and policies that influence what should be in a district plan (see the diagram above). Ensure you are familiar with and reference / quote from national and regional policy, local strategy/policy/goals. These include:
- Connecting New Zealand – A summary of the government’s policy direction for transport
- New Zealand Urban Design Protocol (2005)
- Getting There – On Foot, By Cycle (2005)
- Raising the Profile of Walking and Cycling in New Zealand – A Guide For Decision-makers
Each regional council will have goals, strategies and policy statements around transport and the environment. They will be available on their website.
Your local council may have an active transport / walking / cycling strategy document.
In addition cycling will be mentioned in other council policy and strategy documents such as:
- Long Term Plans
- Transport, Recreation, Urban Design, Leisure and well-being, sustainability, resilience and economic strategies and policies. These can be found via on-line searches or your local advocacy group may already have pulled this together.
Identify the pertinent goals, policies, strategies and requirements and quote them as the context of your request. You can also add in generally accepted benefits / reasons for supporting active transport.
Identify what is missing from the current District Plan
- Are there minimum requirements for bicycle parking and end of trip facilities?
- Are both visitors and staff catered for?
- Is the design, location and overall safety/functionality of the facilities defined in the plan?
- Are sufficient numbers of bike parks, lockers, and showers stipulated?
- Are residential facilities included? (especially for high and medium density developments)
- Are major developments / high trip generators included?
- Are general statements in the plan sufficiently supportive of walking and cycling?
Reference best practice and ask for what you want
Show examples of best practice from other councils. Some of these are provided in the sample submission below. Christchurch’s is a really good example and has been around long enough to be ‘proven’.
Make it relevant
Relate what you are asking for to the national, regional and local goals and policies you identified earlier.
Make the Justification and Impact clear
Make a case that providing bike parking is not too onerous for developers and a lot cheaper than retrofitting or installing on road reserve ‘later’ (which is an expense to council). Show that when bike parking is installed during the construction phase it saves the occupier money from installing it later (installation costs can be 2/3rds of the overall cost of providing bike parking, and for showers think how difficult it can be to retrofit plumbing). It can also save the council money if they are not the only ones providing bike parking.
Talk about the benefits to other users (lunchtime joggers). Talk about overseas (and Auckland!) trends where potential tenants actively seek out buildings with good end of trip facilities. Talk about what cycleways the council is building, who they expect to use them, and where they will keep their bikes.
How do I know when my District Plan is up for review?
Watch you councils website and your local paper – check out what is coming up for submission. Talk to councillors and council officers.
Here is a list of councils that are either reviewing their district plans now, or are likely to be doing so in the next couple of years – based on what is on their websites, and when their current district plans were made operative.
Gisborne, Nelson, Central Otago, Chatham Islands, Kaikoura, Masterton-Carterton-South Wairarapa (combined plan), Napier, New Plymouth, Opotiki, Porirua, Selwyn, Taupo, Waimate, Wairoa, Waitaki, Waitomo.
These are the councils that usually do ‘rolling reviews’ and review one topic at a time, though some of them have decided to do a full review soon: Central Hawkes Bay, Clutha, Hutt City, Mackenzie, Manawatu, Matamata-Piako, Palmerston North, Upper Hutt, Wellington City, Whangarei.
Here’s the link to all the RMA district and regional plans in New Zealand: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/rma/rma-processes-and-how-get-involved/council-plans-and-where-find-them
To make it easier for you here is a sample submission which you can use as a starting point. You can download it and edit it to suit your local situation and who is submitting etc.
Getting bike parking into your district plan is a proactive and effective way of normalising and encouraging biking. It is an enduring change in our built environment that will benefit many people for years to come.
If you need help with advocating for bike parking and end of trip facilities in your district plan please do get in touch.
What other ways could a District Plan support active transport? Please leave your suggestions in the comments.