I like to walk. I drive to work for reasons necessary for my job, and I use TTC whenever possible for my commute.  I live downtown, so I can park my car on the weekends and not see it again until sometime during the week.  I don’t have a bike, not at the moment anyway, but maybe someday soon.  I am happy if you do, and I want a safe route and space on the road for you because I believe it is the most admirable form of transportation.  But I am just not into it, and I don’t think the price of a new condo should carry the cost of a space to park your bike, or the non-existent bike of my neighbour.

The city’s bylaw mandating long term bike parking in new residential developments forbids bikes to be kept in a dwelling unit—no matter that it may be worth more than your nephew’s car–it requires, per Chapter 230, one bike parking spot per residential unit in a space either on the first or second floor or below grade in a dedicated area say, in the parking garage.  Fair enough, or so it seems, since a bike takes up space.  1.08 square metres to be exact, in a space that is mandated to be at least 1.9m tall.   And this is the problem. Toronto’s housing crisis is a crisis of affordability, as there are places to rent and buy in the city, they just cost too much, and the complicated economic system that sets this price is more than just supply and demand, it is also a function of construction costs.

If you consider that the market price for a new condo in Toronto ranges from $600-900 a square foot, or $56-84 a square meter, the market cost to house your bike is approximately the same (1.08m2) plus the costs of a heat, hydro, and taxes.  But the cost to construct this space far out strips the market value of your 1.08m2 and since it is most likely located below grade your bike takes up space (with elevator, ramp, and hallways) that doesn’t actually exist (think infill lot size), without pushing the building deeper into the ground which pushes the cost of your 1.08m2 even higher.

I want more people to ride bikes. I want to see more bikeshare in the public realm. I want to see more dedicated bike lanes. But I want to see a rational approach to bike storage where the cost to construct is factored into the reality of the limits of urban space and bylaws are not social experiments where 40% of the non-biking public are required to pay for 100% of the market costs of storing a bike in the hopes that more people will ride a bike.

I will buy a bike again someday, but I am pretty sure I’ll break the law and keep it in my condo.


Jeff is a partner and urban designer, planner and principal landscape architect at Terraplan.

Contact Jeff Craft at jcraft@terraplan.com

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