Three Bills Enhancing Bike Access to Buildings Get Council Approval

This afternoon the City Council voted in favor of a package of bills aimed to improve bike access to commercial and residential buildings.

New Yorkers will be able to bring folding bikes like this Brompton (demonstrated by Dulcie Canton in City Council chambers last October) into passenger elevators at the workplace. Photo: Julia Kite

The bills augment the 2009 Bicycle Access to Buildings Law, which required office building owners and managers to create bicycle access plans when tenants request them.

That law had a number of limitations. For one, it only required access to freight elevators. Since freight elevators in many buildings are shut down before most workers leave for the day, the law has not been much use for people who work in buildings where management does not want to accommodate bikes.

DOT, which supported all three bills, conducted a survey of 209 tenants who had applied for bike access to their offices, and many said limitations on elevator access discouraged them from biking to work.

Intro 795-A, sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams, addresses this loophole by allowing people with bikes to use passenger elevators when freight elevators are not in service.

Williams has updated the bill since a hearing last year. The initial version only covered exiting buildings with a bike. At DOT’s suggestion, the bill now ensures that cyclists can also bring their bikes into buildings through the passenger elevator when the freight elevator is not operating. If building management wants an exemption from the bike access mandate, the legislation also now requires personal approval from the DOT commissioner.

For commuters who ride folding bikes, universal access to commercial buildings is around the corner, thanks to a Helen Rosenthal’s Intro 405. The bill guarantees access to passenger elevators for people with folding bikes.

The third bill, Ydanis Rodriguez’s Intro 695, guarantees bike access to residential elevators.

Mayor de Blasio is expected to sign all three bills.

  • Jeff

    “If building management wants an exemption from the bike access mandate, the legislation also now requires personal approval from the DOT commissioner.”

    That’s kind of hilarious, and I want to interpret it as saying, “No, seriously, shut up and comply with the law.”

  • I like the idea of allowing us to use passenger elevators when freight elevators are not in service!

    Will this mean that buildings can no longer impose restrictions on hours?

    The freight elevator in the building where my office is can be used until 9pm on weekdays, and not at all on weekends. Does 795-A mean that I would now have 24-hour access to the building with my bike?

  • Joe R.

    It certainly sounds that way to me, provided your office building is open 24/7. Even though I don’t benefit one bit from any of these new laws, I’m thrilled they’ve passed. It just normalizes a bike going into an elevator as no different than a shopping cart or a baby carriage. It’s long past time.

  • Right, the building is open 24 hours. My company’s facilities manager responded to my question to him by saying that he thinks that this law might indeed require the building to allow 24-hour bike access. But my question was the first he had heard of the matter; so he is not sure.

    Let’s see what changes the building management announces in response to this new law.

  • kevd

    I’ve worked in two buildings regularly that have “indoor” bike parking.
    One is in the built in parking garage, the other in a HUGE paved courtyard in a tiny shed (its always nearly full on sunny days).
    While neither are ideal, both were clearly results of the existing law, and 100% better than having to lock up on the street.
    So it’s progress. These changes will push the needle a bit further.

  • Wilfried84

    This all presumes that the “tenant,” ie, your employer, allows bicycles into their offices, or has some in-building storage, correct? If your office doesn’t allow bikes, you’re still out of luck, if I read this right.

  • Even if your office doesn’t allow bikes into its rented space, the building still has to allow bikes into the structure and provide a space for them. My building created a bike room within the past year. (But I don’t need to use it, as my office allows bikes.)

  • mfs

    that’s just the way laws are drafted. assigning the power to the commissioner is a legal formality that allows the DOT as a general to regulate something. in practice the waiver is reviewed by the DOT staff.

  • Kevin Love

    The “Safety in Numbers” effect means that you do benefit from these new laws. Anything that encourages cycling makes it safer for everyone else.

  • Ben

    What if the freight elevator is “available”, but requires the tenant to pay for overtime of the freight elevator operator? This is the situation at my current and former buildings. Was happy when the 2009 bill passed – but the main benefit to me was parking garage access since my buildings are/were unaccommodating.

  • How will this work for those of us employed by the City? Currently, management has said I can’t bring my bike inside, so I lock it up directly out front, but that rack is usually pretty full, and I’d prefer to have it at my cubicle, seeing as how I have the space available to store it. Are they exempt from the law, or should they be embracing it even more than private property owners?

  • Vooch

    did you ask for a placard for your bike ?

  • Miles Bader

    I’d think it’d be on rainy days that everybody would want to park in the shed… on sunny days any random place is OK…

  • kevd

    On rainy days not many people ride to work…

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

De Blasio Signs Right of Way and Bike Access Bills

|
Following unanimous City Council votes earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio signed several bills yesterday with important implications for walking and biking in NYC. Public Advocate Letitia James’ Intro 997-A, now known as Local Law 115, amends the legal definition of pedestrians’ right of way so anyone who steps off the curb during the flashing “Don’t Walk” phase has […]

TA: Zoning Great for Tomorrow; Bike Access Can Improve Today

|
From a statement released by Transportation Alternatives in response to this morning’s bike parking announcement (emphasis added): Transportation Alternatives applauds the Bloomberg Administration’s announcement that the zoning code will now require indoor bicycle parking at all new office and apartment buildings. In enabling future New Yorkers to undertake zero emission commutes, this is a large […]

In Historic Vote, City Council Passes Bicycle Access Bill

|
DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan speaks at a press event yesterday. That’s bill sponsor David Yassky in the green tie. The New York City Council voted 46-1 this afternoon in favor of Intro 871, the Bicycle Access Bill, opening the door to significant gains in commuter cycling. Cyclists who do not commute by bike have long […]