Monday, April 28, 2008

Want to ride your bicycle to work? Tough luck!

Here's a depressing example of a prominent Manhattan building whose management is anti-bicycle to the point of summarily rejecting any changes--even low-cost and free ones--that might accommodate cyclists. All names have been changed.

From: Urbanis
Sent: Friday, April 25, 2008 11:39 AM
To: John Q. Public
Subject: Bicycle parking

Dear John:

My name is Urbanis and I work at the XXXX Building. As part of your plans to “green up” the management of the XXXX Building, I would like to request a few easily implemented changes that would better support the building’s workers and visitors who commute by bicycle.

Commuting by bicycle benefits everyone—improved air quality and less congested roads, healthier and more productive workers, lower public health costs, and decreased national dependence on non-renewable fossil fuel for transport. Unfortunately, people who would want to come to the XXXX Building by bicycle are currently deterred from doing so by the lack of options for secure bicycle parking. Indeed, there are signs forbidding locking one’s bicycle to the outside fence and bringing one’s bicycle into the building, and there are no bike racks out front. To put this in perspective, a study conducted by the Department of City Planning found that lack of access to secure bike parking was the primary reason cyclists did not ride to work (

I would like to suggest the following changes—all of which are low or no-cost—to better support bicycle commuting to the XXXX Building:

  1. Provide outdoor bike racks, appropriate for visitors on short errands, messengers, and delivery people. A very low cost way to do so is to request NYC Department of Transportation to install bike racks in front of the building through their CITYRACKS program. DOT pays all the costs of materials and installation. Further information and an online request form are located here: As an alternative, permit people to chain their bikes to the fence, preferably on the inside of the fence (as I understand was the practice in past years) to provide an additional level of security and help keep the sidewalk clear for pedestrians.
  2. Provide a secure indoor bicycle parking facility for employees and long-term visitors, which can be a small room that is not currently used. If that is not feasible, as an alternative, permit those employees whose companies can provide storage space to bring their bicycles into the building. At a minimum, permit employees to bring folding bicycles into the building. Folding bicycles, as their name suggests, can be folded into small package, carried, and stored at an employee’s desk. Please note that bicycle wheels are no more “dirty” than street shoes, so permitting bicycles in the building would not likely add additional burdens to regular maintenance and cleaning.
I would be delighted to assist the building management in investigating solutions that both support bicycle commuting and help keep the XXXX Building a safe, clean, and pleasant environment to visit and work in.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



From: John Q. Public
Sent: Friday, April 25, 2008 12:34 PM
To: Urbanis
Subject: RE: Bicycle parking

Thank you for your thoughts. However the exterior of this building is considered landmark'd and absolutely NO changes are permitted without the express written approval of the NYC Landmarks Commission from paint to mortar. The owners of the building do not like to have a clutter of bicycles in front of the building as it detracts from the aesthetics and should any pedestrian slip or trip on someone's bicycle there are liability issues involved.

Your idea regarding folding bicycles is intriguing - but enforcing a folding bicycles policy only in the building might be viewed as discriminatory and could lead to legal issues.

You raise many good points although unfortunately at this time I am unable to implement any of your proposed solutions.


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