Dollar-A-Day Bike Parking Arrives at All Edison ParkFast Locations

ParkFast advertises its bike parking at Hester and Centre Streets. Photo: Noah Kazis.
Edison ParkFast advertises its bike parking at Hester and Centre Streets. Photo: Noah Kazis

The combination of the Bicycle Access to Garages law and the market’s invisible hand are bringing cheap bike parking to locations across Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn. As of last month, every garage operated by Edison ParkFast, one of the largest parking companies in the city, is offering bike parking at the rate of $1 per day or $20 per month.

Edison was already offering bike parking at its larger garages, said Executive Vice-President for Parking Ben Feigenbaum, due to the requirements of the Bicycle Access to Garages law, passed last August. That law required all public lots with over 100 spaces to provide parking for bikes, allowing garages to set their own rates. “We attracted virtually no customers,” said Feigenbaum.

The bikes-in-garages law is set to take full effect later this year, covering all lots with 50 or more spaces — meaning every Edison lot. Rather than wait until that deadline hit, said Feigenbaum, Edison is trying to figure out how to make the economics of bike parking work now. “We need to offer low enough rates to see if people are really interested,” he explained.

So far, said Feigenbaum, “there’s been a few more people that have come out of the woodwork to park” their bikes, but most racks remain empty.

Why the low interest in what seems like a pretty good deal (especially compared to the exorbitant rates we’ve found at some garages)? It may be that potential customers haven’t learned about the offer yet. People may also be reluctant to pay for bike parking when some of the same signs advertising low prices tell cyclists that they park at their own risk. On top of that, cyclists have to bring their own locks. So even if prices are down, the added security of going to a garage isn’t as high as it could be.

  • First, this is great news, and I think we’re getting closer to a reasonable secure bike parking solution for many bike commuters. I think the rates are spot on. What holds me back from using these garages is that the advantage of more secure parking does not outweigh the advantage of being able to park right by my destination, especially since the garage solution still requires me to haul heavy locks I’d be bringing anyway. If the garages can eliminate the lock and “at your own risk” requirements, then they’d be a winner.

  • Jay

    Is “at your own risk” the “secure” parking the law requires? That doesn’t sound right.

  • meb

    Finally, a reasonable rate for bike parking.

    After we moved from Astoria up to Westchester I didn’t want to give up riding my bike around town. I picked up a Brompton so I could continue to ride to work instead of taking the subway. Had there been a viable choice for leaving my old beater somewhere mostly safe by GCT I wouldn’t have gotten the folder, I would have just kept my beater in the city.

    Still, I have no regrets about my Brompton, I love that bike.

    Inexpensive bike parking around places like GCT and Penn could give a whole other set of commuters more options. Definitely more folder riders on Metro North than I expected, perhaps more people who’d leave a bike in town if they had a decent option.

  • Kaja

    > Is “at your own risk” the “secure” parking the law requires?

    It’s the same risk drivers take. I swear my car suffers less damage on the street in Brooklyn than it ever did in Manhattan garages.

    I also can’t tell why I’d want to tie up in a garage if I can’t ride in the garage, if the attendants hate bicyclists, and I still have to carry locks. Maybe if it were a “dangerous neighborhood…”

    Still, a dollar a day is definitely the right price. I bet this proves there’s really no market for it, at least not yet.

  • Kristen

    This is great news. I live in Brooklyn and ride to Manhattan for work and after a bit of searching I found secure bike parking in an attended garage near my office in the Village (25/month). The attendant is super nice and everyone leaves his or her lock. So maybe you wouldn’t have to schlep a heavy one — I’m sure these garages will allow regulars to leave locks eventually.

  • Bumpkin

    You guys are something else. You want the garage to provide bike locks? You can solve a problem faced by many commuters for a buck a day. Yet, there are still people who complain. Keep riding the bus.

  • Wow! Thank you, Edison, for doing the right thing. There’s a “LAZ” garage in my building, but I’m happy to take my bike a few blocks further to park at a garage that understands my needs.

    In general, I think bikes-in-garages will be a good *overnight* parking solution for bike commuters and daytime errand-runners. Lots of folks live in walkups, can’t fit their bike in their apartment, and/or don’t want to risk leaving a bike out on the street every night.

  • Omri

    The cost per year comes close to what I paid for my bike, but to know the bike will be there, intact, at 6PM, is well worth a dollar a day.

  • Jim

    As a representative of Bikestation, this is start. All of these issues (what is secure? Carrying a lock, etc) we’ve seen before. Hope you can check out one of our facilities sometime. We’ve only lost three bikes in nearly 15 years, and users can leave their locks. Cost? Same $1 a day for dry, safe, secure and convenient parking. When you have that, walking a couple of blocks seems inconsequential.

  • lee

    Is the $1 a day portable across Edison lots? Does it allow one to come in and out of the same garage a few time during the day?

    I’m thinking of something like:
    Bike to work –> Garage ($1)
    leave garage –> meeting or lunch –> other garage ($1?) –> back to original garage ($1?)
    Original garage –> bike home

  • Glenn

    If I have to bring my own lock, it’s not worth $1 for the hassle of not parking right next to my destination. If I can not have to ride around with a lock everywhere, I’ll give you more than $1…

  • Doug G.

    I’m with Bumpkin on this one. No sooner does a company announce the kind of policy most of us have been salivating for than people come out and make comments about its drawbacks, limitations, and absent features.

    $1 a day! You could park in one garage, go out and park in another and still spend less than a subway fare. Just getting into a cab, sitting for one minute and getting out would cost more, even without a tip. A for-profit business is offering spaces for $20 a month! $20 a month is, by my calculations, a lot less than $80 – $100 for whatever they’re hoping to charge for unlimited MetroCards.

    And yet people complain. It’s park at your own risk! I’m sure park at your own risk means the same thing it means for cars. If your car gets dinged by the driver next to you opening his door, the garage isn’t liable. If your bike gets scratched by someone parking next to you, the garage isn’t liable. I’m sure there are even garages that aren’t liable for stolen cars, so just read the fine print if you go.

    You can’t ride in the garage? Is that a serious complaint? I can’t ride into my buildings lobby and onto the elevator either. Maybe the garage doesn’t want to be responsible for people speeding down tight turns and getting in accidents. Garages aren’t exactly well lit and don’t usually have amazing sight lines. Better to have a blanket policy, I guess. I know, I know…cars speed dangerously down garage ramps too, but so far no one has figured out how to walk a car from its parking space to a garage exit.

    Seriously, someone could open the perfect garage in this city and there would still be a chorus of people complaining that it’s not near where THEY work. I expect the “why aren’t their showers and locker rooms in Edison parking garages” comment to come soon.

    The only only “inconvenience” is that you have to provide your own lock. Don’t drivers also have to provide their own locks for their cars, in a way? Garages don’t erect chain link fences or security gates around each space after a car parks in it. If you stole a car, all you’d have to do at most garages is say you lost your ticket. Fifty dollars or so later you’d have your very own Mercedes!

    For $1 you get covered, off-street bike parking in what I’m assuming are buildings with security cameras and attendants of very degrees of pleasantness. It’s a great alternative to locking your bike up to a street sign and risk having it removed by the police, the DOT, or a thief. Or merely having it exposed to rain and snow. And as Sean said, it’s also a great option for someone who can’t or doesn’t want to bring his bike home now and then.

    Give Edison credit for getting out ahead of a deadline, too. Most companies could easily do nothing and then give the minimal amount of effort when the law takes effect. Or simply claim that there’s no market for it. Sounds like Edison saw that there wasn’t as much of a market as they expected and is tinkering around to see where the sweet spot is.

    Nothing in this world is 100% perfect, but this is pretty close.

  • Jay

    It seems like they could use the lock as part of their payment collection method. “Pay what you owe for the amount of time the bike has been here, and we’ll unlock it.”

    This is so obvious, there must be some practical impediment… Maybe the cost of the staff time to deal with the locks?

  • A internal bike cage, for example, might provide that extra layer of security people are looking for.

  • vnm

    $1 a day. Does that include tax?

  • J:Lai

    Maybe you can bring less lock. Instead of the huge, heavy chain that you use to park on the street, you can bring a lightweight u-lock or even one of those cable locks — that is, if you believe the garage attendants will be a deterrent to thieves.

    Expecting the garage to provide and service locks, for a dollar a day, seems kind of presumptuous.

  • To follow on lee’s comment (#10), it would be interesting to know how transferable the fees are across the franchise. For example, if I’ve paid $20 for the monthly rate, am I entitled to park my bike in any local Edison lot or am I limited to one garage? If the “membership” is across locations (like a membership at, say, NYSC), it would certainly make the offering more attractive, since one may ride to multiple locations in a day.

  • I saw the same rates advertised by Eagle Parking, on Spring Street, on my way home from the Greenway. If it was a little closer to home it would be a good alternative to hauling my bike up two flights of stairs. Or I might even consider that xtracycle I’d been thinking about.

    I believe, like gyms, Eagle Parking charges motorists a premium for using any garage in their system. Maybe once bicycle parking is more evolved we’ll see similar tier pricing.

  • Anon

    Clearly, the reason nobody is parking their bikes in the garages at $1 per day is because on-street bike parking isn’t priced high enough, just like Dr. Shoup says. Why should we give precious sidewalk space to bikes which block the flow of pedestrian traffic, and not ask one dime from them? Let’s make bikes pay the same rate (OK, half the rate) of metered car parking, and then see how many people will park in a garage. Just put a meter on every bike rack.

    Not really, but it’s interesting to carry some arguments to their logical conclusion.

  • I’m with the “applaud Edison” team, and I’ll definitely be using this on occasion (the nearest Edison to my office is over 1/2 mile). I always carry a lock because I never know when I am going to want to stop and run into a store, the library, etc. However, I forget my lock every month or so, and it’s on those occasions (and a few others) when I know I’ll be using the Edison near my office.

    For those who don’t like to carry locks, I bet garage managers wouldn’t mind regular customers leaving a U-lock locked to an out-of-the way fixture in the garage, so that it is always available for use as needed. Or, people can just lock their U-lock to sign post in front of the garage.

    I can certainly understand that people who don’t have an Edison near them won’t want to add a long walk to their commute by parking regularly there. But there are enough cyclists out there who do work or live near Edison garages that I think the Edison racks will fill up at this pricing within a year or so, as people learn about it.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Clearly, the reason nobody is parking their bikes in the garages at $1 per day is because on-street bike parking isn’t priced high enough, just like Dr. Shoup says. Not really, but it’s interesting to carry some arguments to their logical conclusion.”

    Really. Remember I’m the guy who said leave the heads on the parking meters to covert them to bike parking, and charge 25 cents or perhaps 10 cents for 24 hours. And use all the revenues to create more bike parking.

    Making something free doesn’t just increase the demand, it reduces the supply. If nothing else, it would get rid of the derelict bikes, just like charging for street parking might get rid of those second and third cars.

  • Applaud Edison +1. Just for kicks, I just went and weighed my lock set: one name brand 38″ chain and heavy padlock, and one medium-duty U-lock. It weighed nine pounds total. For comparison, my heavy-duty backpack weighs four pounds. Unless you’re one of those “willowy” females with bikes, the extra weight of a nice lock set is negligible.

  • Glenn

    I like the idea of “less lock”.

  • Actually the cost of on-street bicycle parking can be quite high if your bike is stolen, your $100 Kryptonite lock is clipped by police, or even if someone just helps themselves to your wheel.

    More likely the reason why nobody is parking in these garages is that not enough cyclists are aware that affordable bicycle parking is fast becoming a reality. Despite their best efforts, it seems DOT just can’t install enough bike racks around Union Square or 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue to meet the demand. Bryant Park is a black hole when it comes to bicycle parking. I’d much rather spend a dollar to park my bike in a garage than take the subway or worry about what might happen to my bike while I’m gone.

  • J

    I’m solidly in the “way to go Edison!” camp. They own a TON of garages in the city, and this creates a definitive city-wide price standard that is reasonable for cyclists. This allows a cyclist to actually ride a nice bike to work. Folks who simply want to ride to work and back can actually get a nice workout in or train for a race or whatever. The big unknown, though, is going to be the location of the bike storage, but regardless, this is a VERY important first step for bike parking.

    If I get stranded at the office when a rainstorm hits, it’s really nice to know that for $1, I can throw my bike in a safe covered parking garage until the next day, rather than lug it up and down subway stairs or leave it out overnight in the rain. This also applies to night out when you have a little too much to drink. Just chuck your bike in a garage for a buck and get it the next day.

    If you live near a garage and have limited space, this could also be a convenient bike storage solution – especially if you live in a sixth floor walk-up.

    Wow. I’m starting to sound like an ad for Edison, but I think it a really important step, and they took a gamble to do it.

  • JS

    This is a good thing for people who don’t have a “special” commuter bike. For those of us who already lock on the street, this may not be a big deal. But for people who don’t currently ride to work because locking up outside is unacceptable (because of fear of theft or vandalism), this is great news.

  • In response to Stacey #24 – Add Madison Square Park to that black hole. I just did an actual count this weekend and posted it on my blog, there are only 5 U shaped racks on that entire block – its absurd! I honestly think that the DOT doesn’t want to clog up all the pretty park with bikes, instead they prefer for us to chain them to fences, and even worse – trees! I hate seeing bikes chained to trees.

    I also agree nobody is parking because we plain just do not know. I just found out now when I read this article. I like the idea of $1 a day, and honestly I prefer to bring my own lock, we are used to carrying them anyways so whats the difference?

    I would totally pay $20 a month just for the overnight parking. Right now I am faced with possibly moving somewhere that can’t store my bike and I a freaking out, this would solve my problem!

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  • cloudsofviolet

    Don’t see why it shouldn’t be free, all the bike parking in garages in SF is free. Doesn’t make sense for the garages to provide locks instead of ppl. bringing their own b/c then they could be liable if a bike is stolen. Also, if you ride a bike around the city, wouldn’t you need to lock up at other places too?

  • To me, “park at your own risk” won’t work for bike garages the way it does for car garages because bikes have substitutes: any given pole.

    The only real service bike garages can offer a bike at the moment is security from vandalism and theft. If it doesn’t, I don’t see how it makes sense.

    The model is particularly challenging in places like San Francisco where coalitions have free attended bike parking. Granted, that’s not pervasive temporally or geographically but it brands the service has non-commercial.

    Some more work needs to be done on this business model I think.

    Here are some photos of some great bike parking in Vancouver and San Francisco (see bottom): http://www.planbike.com/2010/08/bike-gear-security.html

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The only real service bike garages can offer a bike at the moment is security from vandalism and theft. If it doesn’t, I don’t see how it makes sense.”

    I get four benefits.

    Security from vandalism and theft if greater, if not absolute. Anyone hanging around the garage will be noticed and chased off, unlike those hanging around the street.

    The difference in security, and the fact that the bike is out of the weather, means I am no longer removing my seat. It will be more comfortable locking up on the coldest days in the winter, as I will be out of the wind.

    I had been using a heavy $100 chain and a small U-lock to lock up at the office, and just the U-lock for a quick stop at a store. When I asked if I could leave the chain, I was told I could. It makes a difference carrying the bike up and down the stairs at home. I don’t think I could leave the chain, a trip hazard, attached to a pole on 5th Avenue.

  • The four benefits I get from garage parking:

    Security from negligent sidewalk or road users. No worries that an automobile will hop the curb and crash into the meter where I’ve parked my ride, or that a dog will pee on my helmet.

    Security from thieves. As Larry says above, the garage people will shoo loiterers away.

    Warm and dry conditions. No rain on the bike, and no getting cold or wet while locking/unlocking.

    No need to remove appurtenances, such as lights, seatpost, panniers, front wheel and helmet.

  • David Herman

    Just asked the Edison ParkFast location @ 44th btwn 8th & 9th, and even though there’s a huge sign advertising it, they are NOT taking bikes yet.

  • The arguments you are having are so much more intelligent than are happening elsewhere in the world. Out here, we say, “has New York done it?” Keep arguing: that’s leadership. Thanks.

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