Next Tuesday the politicians at Vancouver City Hall will be debating whether to introduce a new taxpayer funded incentive package for bikers parking in the city. Their plan is to dramatically reduce parking rates by 75% for electric powered motorcycles and 50% for conventional bikes. The hope is this new subsidy will help spur on a whole new generation of bikers who will prefer to go green rather than burning fossil fuels.
The City wants to create about 100 new special parking spots for motorcycles throughout Vancouver. However, before you jump on your Harley and get too excited, these spots will only be accessible to bikers riding zero emission bikes. In other words, if you have to stop at Chevron to fill up your tank, these special parking zones are off limits.
Staff indicated it will cost the City $600 to paint lines indicating where these special new motorcycle spots will be. Most are being planned at the end of a street just before the intersection (check p. 6 of the report for an illustration). Overall, the plan will cost taxpayers $60,000 per year with $20,000 per annum being set aside for ongoing maintenance starting in 2011.
Based on GHG emissions, riding a traditional motorcycle is much more enviro-friendly than driving a fossil-fuel single occupant vehicle. That's why for years Vancouver has struggled with ways to provide the right kind of subsidies and incentives to reward bikers for saving the planet. After months of work, staff now have a plan. However, the did issue a cautionary note to the politicians. They report that segregating bikers into two separate green and ultra-green categories may not sit well with everyone:
Overall, response to the consideration of more motorcycle parking opportunities was positive. However many respondents preferred free parking in corner clearances for all two wheeled vehicles citing fairness and simplicity. They felt restricting some types of gas powered motorcycles and not others from parking within the corner clearance parking areas would be too complicated. Others expressed concern about not having cell phones and confusion surrounding reduced rates through the pay by phone system. Some felt a larger reduction in price or free parking at meters would be more appropriate because more than two motorcycles can fit in each parking spot.
In response to the concerns raised by the public, it was determined that only zero-emission motorcycles should be allowed to park in the corner clearance parking areas. This will help prevent any confusion created by allowing some gas powered motorcycle drivers to park there and not others.
After reading the report, it strikes me that the City better have a very good communications roll-out, otherwise it could cause a bit of angst. Given their recent track record communicating the benefits of 311, HEAT shelters and the Hastings Park master plan, I'm not hopeful.
It would appear the motivation behind this report is Mayor Robertson's Greenest City Action Team. The report states:
In reviewing existing Council policy and the recommendations of the Greenest City Action Team, staff recommends that only zero emission motorcycle drivers be allowed to park within the parking areas. Allowing only these motorcycles to park within the spaces would provide a clear incentive for drivers to choose these types of vehicles. It would also make these spaces easier to enforce, as enforcement officers can easily identify zero emission motorcycles, and drivers would easily understand ‘electric motorcycle only’ signage. It is further proposed to permit these motorcycles to park for 10 hours in order to promote their use for commuting purposes, rather than just short term visits.
There are some really confusing parts to the report as well, whereby staff are attempting to explain the new rules that would be implemented in conjunction with the new cel phone based automated pay parking system:
Each regular parking meter spot can hold up to four full size motorcycles, or up to seven small motorcycles, and all drivers would pay for the parking time they require. If a motorcycle driver parked in a regular parking meter spot, and paid with coins, he or she would be charged the regular parking rate. If the meter expired, any motorcycles remaining in the space that had not paid-by-phone would be ticketed. Parking at meters would be subject to the existing time limits.
So if you are stuck on driving your fossil fuel, yet more environmentally friendly Harley, the bottom line is your parking fees are about to get a bit cheaper...if you can find a spot that is.