Bicycle Parking Zoning Modifications

Bicycle Racks at Harvard Law School

The City of Cambridge, through its Zoning Ordinance, has required bicycle parking as part of new development since 1981. These requirements, along with other improvements and investments made by the City, have helped to support bicycling as a preferred transportation option in Cambridge.

Bicycling in Cambridge has increased dramatically, approximately tripling in the past decade alone. While this has resulted in many environmental, economic and health benefits to the Cambridge community, it has also resulted in higher demand for bicycle parking. The bicycle parking requirements had not changed substantially in over 30 years, and the regulations were not consistent with modern standards in Cambridge or nationwide.

CDD, working with the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department, the Bicycle Committee and the Planning Board, developed a revised set of bicycle parking zoning requirements. These requirements were adopted into the Zoning Ordinance by the City Council on June 3, 2013. Information about the new requirements can be downloaded from this page.

Public Bicycle Parking Fund

If a property owner cannot meet the requirements for short-term bicycle parking on a lot, the owner is required to contribute to a Public Bicycle Parking Fund as per Zoning Ordinance Section 6.104.2 b “Short-Term Bicycle Parking Public Contribution.” To submit to this fund, fill out this form and return to Jeffrey Roberts, To determine the amount for contribution, the price per rack (including purchasing, siting, installation, ownership, and maintenance) can be found in this memo. This price should be applied to the parking quantities specified as per Zoning Ordinance Section 6.107.3.” 

The City Council adopted the revised bicycle parking zoning requirements, as recommended by the Planning Board, on June 3, 2013. All new development permitted as of April 25, 2013 (the date of first advertisement of the ordinance) is subject to the new requirements.

Many thanks to all of the community members who were involved in this process and have helped to support bicycling as an attractive and convenient transportation option for the entire Cambridge community!

You can download the final adopted zoning amendment and other materials below:

Bicycle Parking Zoning Amendment (Ordinance #1357)

Bicycle Parking Guide (September, 2013)

Bicycle Parking Rezoning Presentation (April, 2013)

Planning Board Recommendation (March, 2013)

Also see the Zoning Amendments page for information.

The Bicycle Parking Rezoning Petition was adopted by the Cambridge City Council on June 3, 2013. The requirements apply to all development permitted as of April 25, 2013 (the date of first publication). You can download the final zoning amendment and other background materials from the "Documents" tab.

See the Zoning Amendments page for more details.

The City of Cambridge has formally committed, through policies and actions, to increasing the use of bicycles as a sustainable form of transportation. The 1992 Vehicle Trip Reduction Ordinance, 1993 and 2007 Growth Policy Documents, and 2002 Climate Protection Action Plan all include goals of encouraging additional bicycle use. City infrastructure has been built to support and enhance conditions for bicycling. Educational and encouragement programs foster the increased use of bicycles for all travel purposes.

The tangible success of Cambridge’s bicycle program can be measured in the form of the numbers of cyclists in Cambridge. Between 2002 and 2012, peak hour cycling numbers tripled. Bicycle commuting increased from 4% in 2000 to 7% in 2009. Although there are presently over 1,000 bicycle parking racks on the public right of way throughout the city, ongoing needs assessment surveys show that there is extensive demand for additional spaces. Based on a demand survey conducted in 2011, about 1,500 additional bicycle racks (or 3,000 spaces) are needed to meet the projected demand over the next few years in business districts, parks and public buildings alone.

Zoning requirements for bicycle parking were originally adopted in 1981 and were not substantially modified until the revised requirements were adopted in 2013. The early adoption of bicycle parking benefitted Cambridge’s ability to support increased bicycling over time. However, in many key ways, the requirements did not adequately meet today’s needs. Requiring a more appropriate amount of bicycle parking with new private development will help alleviate the growing pressure to accommodate bicycles within public spaces, where space is already limited.

The zoning changes intend to clarify the appropriate standards for bicycle parking design, layout and location, and to require quantities of bicycle parking that better meet today’s demand as well as the City’s future goals. By requiring appropriate types and quantities of bicycle parking, we will be able to more effectively, systematically and efficiently manage the needs of the bicycling population, as well as to support the goal of increasing and promoting sustainable transportation use.

  • Bicycle Racks at Harvard Law School
  • Bicycle Racks at Alewife Brook Pkwy/Linear Retail
  • Bicycle parking: post-and-rings on Dunster Street in Harvard Square

For more information contact Jeff Roberts at 617/349-4639 or