How Many Office Buildings Will Volunteer to Go Bike-Friendly?

As the push to pass the "Bikes in Buildings Bill" (Intro 38) ramps up in the City Council, DOT has been engaged in a separate but parallel effort to promote bike access and parking in office buildings. The Real Estate Board of New York has posted material on its web site — prompted by a letter from DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan [PDF] — about how building managers can help their tenants who want to commute by bike [download the presentation].

In a letter to his members [PDF], REBNY President Steven Spinola gets behind indoor bike parking in principle, but opposes the creation of a legal mandate:

Dear REBNY members,

Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC has a focus on making New York City more bicycle-friendly. I encourage REBNY members to assist in that effort by voluntarily providing a means for bicycle storage in their buildings. Bicycle parking has been identified as a major obstacle for many commuters to make the switch to biking to work. By providing safe bicycle parking and storage, you will make it easier for your tenants to bike to work and contribute to the goals of a cleaner, greener city.

We have strongly urged the City not to consider legislation requiring office buildings to provide bicycle parking and will continue to do so. But we do need to meet the needs of our tenants and to contribute to the City’s efforts to make it easier for bike riders to ride to work. So I hope you will survey your buildings and find a means to accommodate bicycles within them where possible.

There are a couple of interesting things going on here. One, it’s important to note that Intro 38 does not "require office buildings to provide bicycle parking." Many building managers are already in compliance with that bill’s open-ended language simply by virtue of allowing tenants to bring bikes inside their offices. Spinola is probably referring instead to stronger language in PlaNYC about the need for indoor bike parking (see the bottom of this page).

Two, Spinola’s encouragement of bike parking is a step forward, but will voluntary measures be enough? A few workplaces have gotten past the strange cultural aversion to bike parking. If they remain the exception despite this DOT campaign, a more forceful law than Intro 38 may be in order.

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