More Bike Parking News From City Council: 20,000 New Spaces on the Way

parking_garage.jpgIntro 780 will require commercial parking facilities to add spaces for bikes — and signs announcing the availability of bike parking. Photo: 12th St David/Flickr.

Somewhat lost amid the excitement over the Bicycle Access Bill, last week the
City Council passed a second law that will significantly expand options for bike commuters looking for a better place to lock up.
Intro 780, which we mentioned briefly in June, requires commercial garages and parking lots to provide
spaces for bikes at a specific ratio relative to spaces for cars. Prices for the new bike parking will be left up to the market.

All told, the law will eventually create more than 20,000 new bike parking spaces in nearly 1,700 locations, according to estimates given by DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan at a City Council hearing on the bill. Most, but not all, of those locations are in Manhattan.

Sponsored by Council Member Oliver Koppell of the Bronx,
the bill applies to commercial parking facilities with more than 50 car parking spaces. It requires facility operators to provide one bike parking space for every 10 car parking spaces, up to a threshold of 200 car spaces. Beyond that, one bike spot will be required for every 100 additional car spots.

The bill was drafted specifically to encourage bike commuting, said Koppell’s staff counsel, Jamin Sewell. "By encouraging New York City residents to use cycling as a means to
commute to work through providing increased opportunities to safely
park bicycles, New York City is making an important step towards
increasing the wellbeing of its citizens," Koppell said in a statement.

This marks the third major step to improve bike parking options taken by the City Council this year. In April, the council approved a zoning amendment mandating bike parking in new buildings, and then, of course, the Bicycle Access Bill passed on the same day as Intro 780.

Bike advocates applauded the bill’s passage, but until the Bicycle Access Bill had a clear path toward becoming law, they worried Intro 780 might serve as a substitute measure. "Our
fear was that it would supplant Bicycle Access," said Transportation Alternatives director Paul
Steely White.

The Real Estate Board of New York, the high-powered
lobbying group which opposed the Bicycle Access Bill, didn’t contest Koppell’s bill quite as much, but still frowned on it. Among the parking industry,
positions were divided. Edison Properties, one of the largest parking
companies in the city, supported Intro 780 and was already exploring
ways to supply bike parking, said White.

A caveat: As one city official put it, mandating space for bikes in garages is "a blunt instrument." We’re talking about spaces designed for autos, with car traffic coming and going around blind corners. Accessing these spaces as a pedestrian or cyclist can feel awkward or dangerous, and storage areas are not necessarily as theft-proof as keeping a bike in one’s workplace.

That said, Intro 780 should serve as an effective complement to the Bicycle Access Bill, especially for commuters who can afford commercial bike parking fees and whose workplaces manage to circumvent the new bike access rules. The Intro 780 requirements take effect in about three months, when facilities with 100 or more car parking spaces will have to comply. Facilities with between 51 and 99 parking spots will have to comply two years after that.

  • se

    I guarantee you that’s HOW the Bicycle Access bill will be circumvented. For folks in midtown, the likelihood that there’s a parking structure within 3 blocks of your building that will have ‘covered secure parking’ as defined in the access bill (thus allowing the building an out from allowing bikes into the building) is almost 100%.

    I have two large garages within a block of my office building, and knowing Tishman Speyer, they will most certainly use that as a reason to block access to the freight elevator.

    Sigh.

  • Carms

    Bike parking advocates should hope the garages charge for bike parking. Otherwise these garages will trigger the alternate parking loophole in the bike access bill. It’s much better to park at work than at a garage.

  • This new law could significantly boost bicycle commuting in New York by providing many more secure parking options than just leaving one’s bicycle at the office. I’m amazed this has story has received so little coverage. When does the new law take effect?

  • se,

    I’ve heard that theory too. What makes you so sure that the “no cost” requirement won’t be applied to off-street doesn’t apply to “covered secure parking?”

    Even if you are right, it means we can leverage the commercial building operators against the parking lot operators. The building operators don’t get the exemption for covered secure parking unless it is actually in existence, based on an inspection. Plus, the “covered secure” exemption only works if it is adequate to provide spaces for all who want them. If 50 people in a building sign a statement that they want parking at work, that should defeat an exemption premised on the avaiability of 20 spaces each at two large parking garages in the vicinity.

  • “We’re talking about spaces designed for autos, with car traffic coming and going around blind corners.”

    Wait, so you evil oppressors are creating yet ANOTHER situation where poor drivers have to operate with due care (as already required by law)?!

    This is tyranny!

  • gecko

    Brooklyn Methodist Hospital has free bike parking right in front of the attended booth in their garage so it seems that a lot of commercial garages can do that; might not even have to allocate car parking space and get additional income.

    If attended bike parking becomes a commercial reality there might be that a lot of on-street vendors may want to get in the act for watching bikes for a fee. Others might do it as a service to increase business. Seems like a lot more daily cyclists will be required for these things to start.

    Probably the biggest thing is bike access to places of work for now.

  • jack

    How will this effect those not-biking-to-work times? When I run an errand, I park my bike on a street sign — this is illegal, and unenforced, thank god — My concern is that once parking garages begin to have paid bike parking, the police will have an excuse to enforce the regulations against parking on street signs (or whatever street furniture) – won’t this leave a lot of us forced to pay to park our bikes?

  • Doug

    jack – seriously? I have ONLY ever locked my bike to a street sign. What other alternative do you have?

  • Taking the long and broad view of things, Jack has a point–as the number of bicyclists increase and the infrastructure dedicated to bicyclists increases, it becomes increasingly likley that NYPD will start systematically enforcing the laws requiring bicyclists to use that infrastructure (as opposed to enforcing them only during that “special time of the month.”). And a a general matter, I can live with that–if bicyclists’ mode share went to 50% tomorrow, would it be appropriate for NYPD to step up its enforcement of laws against bicyclists? Of course it would.

    But dealing the with here and now, the only law I know of that even arguably prevents locking up to a street fixture is the law against abandoning property. Putting aside that “special time of the month,” there have been a handful of incidents (well-publicized here on S’blog) of NYPD or MTA have engaged in sporadic, targeted bike removal efforts, generally as a result of complaints from pedestrians about sidewalk obstructions and eyesores. I think a lot will have to change before we see a different kind of enforcement effort (and even then, enforcement of an anti-abandonment regulation on more than a sporadic basis will probably raise lots of thorny problems for NYPD).

  • Cory Mankoff

    Good Lord!

    Since when are bikers worried about the law? Have you ever once had a day walking in New York when you have not almost been run down by a bike going through a pedestrian crosswalk – or a bike going the wrong way on a street?

    Maybe when bikers start actually obeying the laws of NYC, stopping (not zooming through) crosswalks and red lights, then maybe laws will be developed that actually protect bikers and their need to ride and park their bikes safely and securely.

    Until that time, all this talk is a joke, people.

  • Cory, I’ve lived in NYC for decades and the number of times I’ve had a bicyclist “almost run me down” is about 5. Yes, some bicyclists ride against traffic and I wish they would stop. So that means bicyclists’ rights to use the road are a joke? Motorist routinely exceed the 30 MPH speed limit in NYC. Does that mean their rights are a joke? Pedestrians walk through red lights all the time (and BTW, I find it almost a daily occurrence that midtown rush-hour pedestrians will walk against the red right into my path when I am bicycling with the right of way). Should we take their rights way?

  • Cory Mankoff

    Yep, I’ve heard this comment about a trillion times from bikers. They’ve “only” been almost run down by other bicyclists 3 or 4 or 5 times and cars go faster than the speed limit and pedestrians are jerks anyway who are always breaking the law – so why even bother to worry about a few bicyclists going through red lights or the wrong way down streets.

    In other words, since it’s a completely lawless society, why wouldn’t we try to give the bicyclists some legal protection along with everyone else?

    I’d say 6000 serious injuries per year of pedestrians by bikers who were breaking the law in NYC might warrant a slightly closer look at “only” being run down a few times. Then there’s the idea of simply wanting to take a walk without worrying about some moron running you over if you happen to be one of those few pedestrians that does obey the law and crosses only when its their turn.

    Then again, what you’ve said is what all bicyclists say when they are confronted with the problem. You blame it on society, saying everybody is lawless. And the situation stays the same, which is intolerable for all pedestrians and really intolerable for the families of people who have been run down by bicyclists – and victims themselves.

    And, as I was originally trying to point out, that attitude of a majority of bikers (like you) is the exact reason why legislators are so loathe to bother granting you any kind of protection at all.

  • Cory, your 6000 number seems kind of high; can you supply a reference?

    And the legislators’ attitude? Can you get more than one (you used the plural) elected official on record saying this?

    In your haste to condemn all bicyclists for the actions of a few, you missed BicyclesOnly’s main point, which is that all street users deserve to use the streets safely.

    Write back soon.

  • The facts are that on average, about one pedestrian is killed each year in a collision with a bicyclist. I know of no other reliable data concerning the results of bicyclist-on-pedestrian collisions in NYC and would like to see the source for the 6,000 figure.

    And I never said NYC traffic reflects a “completely lawless society.” Anyone experienced in moving around NYC knows that about 80% of the people in traffic–motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians–try to obey the law to the extent they think it necessary to respect the rights and safety of others. Meaning that ~80% of the pedestrians will walk through a red light if there is no oncoming motor vehicle traffic because they don’t think breaking that law in that circumstance will inconvenience or endanger anyone (the other ~20% walk through the red light even when there is oncoming traffic, and make that traffic yield to them or risk a collision). Meaning that ~80% of the motorists will exceed the 30 MPH speed limit by ~10 MPH or so when they think it is safe to do so (although too often they are wrong about it being safe to do so, and the other ~20% move at speeds in excess of 40 MPH on city streets seemingly without considering safety). Meaning that ~80% of the bicyclists will not proceed through a red light if they would interfere with motor vehicle or pedestrian traffic by doing so (the other ~20% do all kinds of crazy things I which they would stop, like riding too close to pedestrians with the right of way, riding counterflow and on the sidewalk). You can argue with my percentages but from the 30,000 foot perspective this is how people are behaving. It isn’t “lawless”; but is the “laws” people are following are not the ones that are written down. and NYPD is OK with that, because 9,999 out of 10,000, they don’t write summonses on the situation-specific “lawlessness” of the 80%. And yes, NYPD targets enforcement at motorists over bicyclists and pedestrians, and they should, because when a motorist miscalcuates what is safe, they kill or seriously injure someone else. That is only very rarely the case with bicyclists, and almost never the case with pedestrians.

    So the issue is not “bicyclists can ignore the law because everyone else does.” The issue is, why should bicyclists have to obey the law in a way that is materially different than pedestrians and motorists?

  • Cory Mankoff

    Jonathan & Bicycles Only,

    I hope you’re not misunderstanding me. I am all for equal protection under the law and all parties playing fair – which is to say, obeying the law.

    Having said, that let’s face some real facts. Bicyclists break the law mostly because they don’t think the laws are just – and they don’t want to stop their progress simply because a crosswalk beckons and a light has turned red. I’m sure you walk in this city and I KNOW you know exactly what I’m talking about here.

    Some students at Cardozo did a study that was titled something like “Do Laws Deter As Well They Should?”. Before you jump on the “we’re all lawless” bandwagon, please note that they found that nobody, motorists or pedestrians or bicyclists came out well at all.

    The research was not exactly rocket science – but it was well conducted. Four law students parked themselves at the corner of 16th Street and 6th avenue and armed with pads and a counter, they made notes. Basically, every time a bicyclist went through the pedestrian crosswalk in violation of the law, they made a note. Three of the four had to agree that the bicyclist had deliberately gone through the crosswalk and it was not a case of not being able to stop soon enough – or perhaps running a yellow light, which motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians all do.

    In addition, they noted when bicyclists stopped in front of the solid white line in accordance with the law. There were no notes taken about how close bicyclists came to pedestrians, as that would require a judgement call, and this was strictly about empirical evidence and they were attempting to answer a fairly simple question: what percentage of bicyclists obey the law.

    The numbers are not good.

    Of the 350 bicyclists they observed, a whopping 217 went right through the pedestrian crosswalk without stopping. If you do the math, that’s a little over 61% of ALL bicyclists broke the law AND endangered pedestrians, drivers and themselves in that one instance. Now, even if you want to account for the 20% of them being “bad apples” or 30% of them as “bike messengers and bad apples”, you still have a giant 1 out every 3 bicyclists knowingly, willingly and routinely breaking the law every day.

    Before you get all self-righteous or make the usual arguments, check it out for yourself. Just watch a corner. I would also suggest taking a pulse of your own biking habits. Do you actually stop every time the law requires that you stop – or do you drive right around pedestrians and through cross-streets when the coast is clear?

    Try being honest with yourself. And then be honest when you put this sort of thing on legislators.

    They are more likely to be pedestrians or people who use cars. They, like a majority of people in the city HATE the idea that we can’t safely enter a crosswalk WITH the traffic light in their favor – without being afraid that some messenger or grandmother or man, woman, boy or girl on a bike isn’t going to be barrelling along at 30 miles an hour with absolutely no intention of stopping. Bicyclists today expect pedestrians crossing the street legally to get out of the way on their own. It’s a lot of fun to get screamed at by a bicyclist who has nearly run me down while he is breaking the law and I am crossing the street legally.

    You want things to change? Take a hard look at your own behavior, guys. And just so you know – I own a bike and I ride it all over the city. I obey the law because I really don’t want to see some kid injured or maimed or possibly killed because some biker feels it is their right to ignore the laws of our society.

  • Cory, thanks for writing back so soon, but you answered neither of my questions—not about where your 6,000 serious accidents figure comes from, nor about which particular legislators have spoken out about the dangers posed by bicyclists.

    I can’t find a reference to publication of your Cardozo study: can you supply one?

    Thanks!

  • Cory Mankoff

    Jonathan,

    Interesting. You write a letter that does not respond to anything I originally said. I then respond and you get very upset that I do not respond to what you said. It’s the web at its very best!

    My whole point is that bikers tend to ignore the reality of their own lawlessness by simply pointing to others. As if that somehow makes up for what goes on. You ignoring the points in my email by instead asking for some form of reference is the same damned thing.

    The 6000 came from a DOT Study a year or two ago that was widely reported. Putting more uniformed officers on bikes reduced the number, as I recall, but not by a whole lot.

    The Cardozo study was in a law journal. It might be online, but it was a part of another article about a group of students there, so I doubt it. The law library at Cardozo (5th and 12th) might be of help to you there.

    I guess now what you’ll say is, since you can’t find the reference points, you have just as much right to still assume “only a few bad apples” drive through intersections! Like I observed before, your attitude is what perpetuates this dangerous idiocy; as long as we close our eyes to unlawful activity or note that others are engaged in equally unlawful activity, we’re absolutely fine with it!

  • Cory, thanks for the reference. I checked the NYC DOT page of research studies, and in the 2008 Safe Streets NYC report (23-page PDF), on page 9, there’s a graph of “severe injuries.” From my reading, in 2007, only (!) 1,318 pedestrians were severely injured in crashes. That number includes motor vehicle crashes, of course.

    You write that “bikers tend to ignore the reality of their own lawlessness,” but it looks strongly to me as if you are ignoring the reality of what DOT says about traffic crashes.

  • Cory Mankoff

    Jonathan,
    My bad. Let’s ignore all the other injuries caused by bicyclists (those other bothersome tables in the same study). As long as the injuries are not considered severe, you and all the other bikers should just keep on going through those crosswalks at high speed. Wouldn’t want non life-threatening injuries pedestrians suffer from bikers to cut into your sense of freedom.

    Keep on going after those legislators for better laws for bikers! Luckily for us less-than-severely injured pedestrians, they can read those charts too!

    Cory

  • Ian Turner

    Cory,

    Not sure what you’re getting at — did you even read the report that Jonathan linked? It doesn’t identify non-severe injuries, nor does it identify the source or fault of injuries. It just says that in 2007 there were 1318 pedestrian injuries in NYC and 140 pedestrian fatalities in NYC, with no remarks whatsoever regarding the source or fault of those injuries, or any information about the number, source, or cause of non-serious injuries.

    I am neither a cyclist nor a fan of cyclist scofflaws, but given the degree to which your story keeps changing, it is time for you to put up or shut up: Do you have a citation to back up your claims of thousands of cyclist-caused injuries, or do you expect us to just take your word for it? (hint: The latter is not going to happen.)

    Sincerely,

    –Ian Turner

  • Cory Mankoff

    Ian,

    Let me quote Jonathan:

    on page 9, there’s a graph of “severe injuries.” From my reading, in 2007, only (!) 1,318 pedestrians were severely injured in crashes.

    Which basically means we’re not even looking at all the people who were not as he puts it “severely injured”. It’s interesting how two people can look at the same research table and come to wildly different conclusions.

    I’m not asking you to take anybody’s word for it. Forget research and try something different – like opening your eyes.

    Just stand on a corner yourself and watch bicyclists. Unless you’re capable of completely fooling yourself, you’ll see for yourself that most bicyclists simply do not obey the laws of this city. They DO NOT stop at crosswalks. Take a walk through Central Park. Do you EVER see bikers stop at one of the pedestrian crosswalks – or do they just so speeding through whether they have the light or not?

    I know you’re not going to take my word for it. See for yourself.

  • Ian Turner

    Cory,

    I see a lot of cyclist lawbreaking. But I’ve never seen a cyclist-caused injury, serious or otherwise. What was your point, exactly, again?

  • Cory Mankoff

    Ian,

    You win. Since you’ve never seen one, I’ll go along with you. There never has been a single injury from cyclists breaking the law.

    I take everything back. Cyclists should just continue doing whatever they’ve been doing and pedestrians should chill out and stop worrying.

    This blog has been a revelation.

    thanks,
    cory

  • Ian Turner

    Cory,

    I’ll thank you for not putting words in my mouth. You’re the one making claims that cyclist injuries are commonplace, and it’s not unreasonable for others to ask you to support them with evidence. So far you have managed to meet such requests with nothing but tantrums.

  • Stephen Kling

    Hello All:

    Of course, Cory IS right: we go through intersections when it’s convenient and the way is clear. And it is convenient and clear a lot of the time. But the reason, in my opinion, is that until very recently, cities like New York have provided absolutely NO infrastructure for us. Stoplights are timed for car speeds, not bikes. Cars park wherever they want, depriving us of a consistent place in traffic flow. Cars and trucks routinely ignore us or worse. And the police…well, they actually steal our bikes. We are treated as pariahs, and so act accordingly.

    When riding in certain bike-friendly European cities, my behavior is entirely different. I stop with all the cyclists at the stoplights. I wait for the special cyclist-only light to turn green, which happens two seconds before the larger motor traffic stoplights, allowing the bikes to get up to speed. There, I am a part of a larger community, and act accordingly.

    I think this is the key to getting cyclists to obey the laws. We will obey the laws when the laws–and the traffic system–treat us as lawful. When I feel protected by the laws, I will return the favor. Until then, it is, unfortunately, every man for himself.

  • Peter Frumkin

    NYC needs systems like the various secure, high-density automated bicycle parking sytems implemented in Japan. I’m not an expert on the subject, but to quote one poster referring to a particularly large bike system in Tokyo: “A giant mechanism will park your bike for you in an underground facility in a train station in Tokyo. It packs more than 9,000 bikes tight as sardines, and when you swipe your card to pick it up, it will find your bike and spit it out in 23 seconds!”

    NYC is way behind the curve. It’s time to stop dabbling in small ideas and just jump the gap to an effective, contemporary solution. Call in the Japanese experts!

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