The Skinny on New Bike Parking Laws

25 Apr
Image from

Trees are not bike racks.  Image from

Monday’s city council meeting included quite a bit of bicycle-related discussion.  Joined by Parker Agelasto and Charles Samuels, Mayor Jones addressed about twenty representatives of Richmond’s cycling community to officially declare May Bicycle Month.  Amy George of Ride Richmond and Tom Bowden of Bike Virginia spoke about the need for a detailed, comprehensive bicycle master plan as key to the city to develop a network of bicycling infrastructure that will serve all residents (more on that in a later post).

The rest (in fact, most) of the discussion focused on legislation introduced by Parker Agelasto focused on bicycle parking.  In essence the laws are intended to 1) curb the practice of people using city trees for bicycle parking (bad for the trees); and 2) allow the city to remove inoperable (aka “dead”) bikes from signs, meters, and city bike racks.  Especially in the case of bike racks, this is important because an accumulation of dead bikes makes the racks useless for people who need them.

The legislation passed, albeit by a small margin.  Votes against were due in part to concerns expressed by some citizens that the new laws could make it too easy for bicycles to be impounded by the police.

RVA News has posted an interview with Jake Helmboldt to clarify the laws and how they will and will not be enforced.  It boils down to this:

• Never lock your bike to a street tree.  The smaller trees in the city have a rough enough time as it is.  Find a sign post, marking meter, or bike rack (more of those are coming).

• Don’t leave your bike sitting locked in one spot for more than 10 days.  If you are leaving town for vacation or something, find another place to store it.  (If you rely your bike for transportation, wouldn’t you want to put it inside somewhere anyway to minimize rust and the chance of being stolen?).

• If someone strips a part off of your bike that makes it inoperable (say, a wheel or handlebars), you need to take it somewhere else within 72 hours.  If you don’t want to deal with getting it fixed, consider donating it to Richmond’s Rag and Bones Bicycle Co-op.

The reality is that the time limits listed here kick in only after your bike has been tagged by the police, and they are likely to do that only if someone alerts them or they’re doing a periodic sweep.  You’ll also have up to 30 days after it’s impounded to get it back from the police if you can prove ownership.  (So write down the serial number or keep your receipt, or both).


One Response to “The Skinny on New Bike Parking Laws”


  1. Crime and Punishment | Bikeable Richmond - July 4, 2014

    […] or racks and taking up space while they are slowly stripped and rust away.  (See an earlier post here for details on the […]

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