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Town mandates bike racks

Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed an ordinance that would require bicycle parking for future commercial and office buildings at its meeting Thursday, Jan. 13.

“We’re going to see more and more people using bicycles for commuting,” Farragut Commun-ity Development director Ruth Hawk said.

The new ordinance would require buildings to have one bicycle parking space for every 5,000 square feet of gross floor space. Those bike racks would be located either near store entrances or near walking trails or sidewalks.

“I’m in favor of more bike racks, even though I don’t ride one and probably won’t,” Mayor Ralph McGill joked.

Hawk showed the Board slides of bike rack options — from the standard black to bike racks emblazoned with the Town logo to whimsical designs of fish, alligators or ... well, bicycles.

In other words, bike racks could become a kind of street art.

“I think they’re cool when they’re different,” Hawk said.

“I want some alligators and fish,” Alderman John Williams said, adding he would advocate anything that fostered creativity in commercial design.

“I like the idea of coming up with creative ideas,” Alderman Jeff Elliott agreed.

Alderman Bob Markli asked Hawk if the one space per 5,000 square feet requirement was necessary for a store like a Home Depot, or something similar, where customers were unlikely to ride bikes.

“You’re right. No one’s going to be going down, carrying their lumber on their backs on their bicycles,” Hawk said, but added that at a business like that, the bike racks would still serve employees, or people who are using the walking trails and stop for a break.

Elliott also said bike racks were useful from a safety perspective, to avoid bicyclists who chain their bikes to street signs or utility poles in the absence of a bike rack.

Williams moved to accept the ordinance; Elliott seconded and the motion was unanimously approved.

The ordinance was passed on first reading; second reading will be at the Board’s next meeting, Thursday, Jan. 27.

In other business, the Board passed, on second reading, an ordinance to require sidewalks or walking trails on all commercial streets and to have internal connectivity.

“I really salute the Town and Mrs. Hawk in being proactive about this,” Markli said about the Town’s long-standing goal to have greenway and sidewalk connections all through Farragut.

“It does make a difference and people are noticing,” he added.

However, Markli asked if the requirement to connect to existing sidewalks or existing neighboring commercial entities would negatively affect developers.

“People are putting them in where the distance is minimized,” Hawk said, adding that constructing sidewalks while already constructing buildings also minimizes cost.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Markli said.

He moved to accept the ordinance, Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche seconded and the motion was unanimously approved.


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