Why We Need the Bicycle Access Bill

So, I’ve done a lot of posts about the Bicycle Access Bill the past few months, and I try to include one or two nuggets of information every time that get at why the bill matters and what a big difference it would make. I never got around to posting a real good story about having one’s bike rejected from one’s place of work. Luckily, Reuters blogger Felix Salmon has that covered:

I did end up buying a folding bike this weekend — a Montague DX — and proudly carried it, folded in half, into 3 Times Square this
morning, after having been told by a security guard that folding bikes
were OK to bring in to the office. Except, it turns out, they’re not.
The only way you’re allowed to bring a folding bike into the building,
it turns out, is if it’s packed up into a bag. Otherwise, no dice.

I suppose my next hope is that NYC’s bike-friendly new
transportation commissioner will install some permanent bike parking in
the acreage of Times Square she recently pedestrianized.

I’m sure the property managers at 3 Times Square have concocted some far-fetched safety-related pretense to explain why folding bikes have to be in a bag to get inside the building. But let’s get real. This is about appearances. There’s some notion of office building propriety that the mere sight of a bicycle would violate.

At this point, the best hope for Felix Salmon and other cyclists rests with the New York City Council, especially transportation committee chair John Liu and Speaker Christine Quinn. How much longer will thousands of New Yorkers have to wait before they can ride to work without worrying about theft?

  • Omri

    Dude’s got a point. A bike lockup would be a great use for some of that Times Square square footage.

  • This incident is almost certainly about appearances. I used to work in a prime historic building in SoHo and right inside the entrance was a sign forbidding bicycles, skateboards, and scooters. I always bagged my folding bike before going indoors and taking it on the elevator. I am certain the security guards knew exactly what was in the bag (and I always made a point of being on a first-name basis with them) but because the bicycle was not visible, they could always claim ignorance if challenged by their bosses.

    While waiting more enlightened practices, Felix, bag your bike. It’s a little more hassle, but at least you’ll have gotten your bike into the building (and into a secure space), which is more than most bike commuters in New York can do at the present moment.

  • I have found NY City office buildings generally have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on my Montague folding bike. I always put it in its case out of sight of the front desk. You are correct, if they don’t know it’s a bike, they can’t get in trouble by their boss. On the occasion when they do ask, I tell them it’s a tuba. A tuba is okay. A folding bike is not. Same size, same amount of metal and protrusions. Go figure. Cyclist are second class citizens. I do wish my case didn’t say “Montague” on it as these bikes are becoming more common and my tuba story gets harder to pull off.

  • I just ride my tuba to work.

  • So when office buildings post signs that say they reserve the right to check bags they’re not really looking for weapons of mass destruction?

  • Bob

    irony of ironies: the management company of dot’s new headquarters at 55 water street won’t allow people to lock their bikes to objects on the sidewalks in front of the building.. even though the building has no jurisdiction over the sidewalk! yes, it is really all about appearances, especially at “class a” office buildings.

  • A 55 Water guard tried to tell me I couldn’t lock to a No Standing sign in front of the building. I told him he had no jurisdiction over city property and left my bike there anyway. Nothing happened to it.

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