This Friday: Bicycle Access Law Takes Effect

bikes_7_world_trade.jpgBicycles inside Silverstein Properties’ 7 World Trade Center. Photo: Transportation Alternatives.

It’s been almost 120 days since the Bicycle Access Bill was signed into law, which means that this Friday, December 11, the law will actually take effect. If you work in an office building (with a freight elevator) where bikes are currently banned, you’ll be able to officially request access under the aegis of the Bicycle Access Law.

How does it work? Luckily, other people have done the legwork and put together some nice guides to the new law.

Once employees start asking for bike access to their buildings, it will be interesting to see how landlords and building managers respond. Who will grant access when it’s requested, and who will stubbornly cling to the belief that bicycles don’t belong inside?

  • Both my employer and my building are very bike friendly, and I have kept my bike securely in my office since the day I started working. The super of my building even unlocks an extra door for me so that I can carry my bike right up the stairs and not wait for the freight elevator!

    My own luck aside, I have been curious and enthusiastic about this legislation since I first heard of it. It is clear how the legislation affects the relationship between landlords and tenets (i.e. the companies that rent space in the building). I am still unclear, however, what rights and responsibilities the legislation provides with respect to individuals and their employers. I know that if a company renting office space requests the landlord allow them to bring bikes into the building, they must comply under the legislation. What about if an individual wants to bring their bike in, and their is resistance on the part of the individual employer? Does the individual employer which rents space in the building have a responsibility to allow employees to bring their bikes into the office? What about the situation where the employer owns the entire building (large corporations, such as ConEd or New York Life). Are they mandated to accommodate bicycles, so long as the requisite freight infrastructure is present?

  • Doug

    My understanding is that the building must allow access if the company asks for it, but that a company that rents office space is under no obligation to offer storage space for its employees.

    So, if your company has no problem with you storing your bike in a closet or cubicle that they rent, no big deal. If they don’t have room for it or otherwise don’t allow it, I think it doesn’t matter whether or not the building allows access.

    Can others elaborate?

  • A building tenant or subtenant has no obligation to seek bicycle access from the landlord, even if some or all of it’s employees want bicycle access. Employees simply can’t initiate a bicycle access plan. Where the building owner is also the employer of the persons who work in the building, the employees do not have any greater right to initiate an bicycle access plan. Bottom line, this is an exercise in persuasion, at least as far as employees are concerned. But once a tenant or subtenant requests bicycle access, the building owner cannot refuse without qualifying for one of the two relatively narrow exceptions.

  • otisbirdsong

    This is great…what I can’t seem to figure out though is how that tax credit that Rep. Blumenauer advocated for bike commuters gets administered.

    Does anyone have any literature on the process? I work for the city and can’t find anything or anyone that references it.

    Thanks.

  • BicyclesOnly, thank you for clarifying. It seems as if secured garage parking would be more flexible and serve more riders than floor access. For instance, my employer is a subtenant of a large research university. The building also has state offices on other floors. If I got floor access with my bike, it would be good for me, but not for the state workers; secured garage parking would be good for everyone commuting to work on these premises by bicycle.

  • J

    Does anyone know what punitive measures come into effect against non-complying building owners? I don’t see anything anywhere in the law or in the guides about punishment.

    I am quite convinced that when my company submits the required Request for a Bicycle Access Plan, my building will react by doing nothing and still preventing bike access. What happens to the building owner? Do we have to sue? If there is no punishment for non-compliance, how do we force building owners to comply with a law they are adamantly against?

  • Sarah Goodyear

    Here’s a link to some information about the tax credit:

    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/05/bicycle-commuter-credits.php

  • LN

    John Jay College just added a second bike rack for expanded indoor parking. Use it when you come to events at the theatre!

  • Jonathan,

    I agree that secure garage parking is an essential complement to bicycle access. It has been required in all garages and lots with at least 100 spaces for several weeks now.

    I have found that most garages near my workplace in midtown will not even accept my bike for parking. The one garage that did accept my bike violated the access law by (1) refusing me valet parking even though that was the only type of parking offered to motorists; (2) failing to provide a secure rack to lock up to that met the technical specifications in the garage access law; and (3) failing to post bicycle parking rates at the entrance. In addition, the garage charged me sales tax, even though, by law, garages may only collect sales tax for parking motor vehicles. On top of that, they charged me a $15 flat rate to park.

    I have used the Department of Cultural Affairs online complaint form to file complaints on all of these garages. In response to each complaint, DCA sends back an email stating that it will conduct an investigation and respond within 4 to 6 weeks. Every person who has been refused the level of garage access guaranteed by the law should file a DCA complaint. It takes about 5 minutes. The key information you need to file a complaint is:

    – the capacity of the garage (should be posted in front)
    – the name of the company that operates the garage
    – the address of the garage
    – the name of the manager who was specifically asked for bike access and who denied it or offered it on terms inconsistent with the law
    – the date of the incident
    -if your bike is accepted for parking, the details of the cost and the parking facilities/services provided (particularly, whether rates are posted and whether sales tax is illegally charged)

    The details of the garage access law and how to file a DCA complaint are here.

  • Jeffrey Hyman

    My personal problem has always been that the building management gave me (and other bike riders) “permission” to bring my bicycle up on the passenger elevators. The elevators are always crowded at the beginning and end of the day, so there is barely room for people to get on board, let alone someone with a bike.

    It seems to me that in this scenario, building management has complied with the law but has not actually provided a workable solution.

  • JerseyBoy

    does anyone know any garages in rock ctr that accept bikes?

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