Indoor Bike Parking: How to Get It Done

Eliza Gray files this report for Streetsblog.

Adam__s_rack_005.jpg
Adam Mansky locks up at the new rack in his office building. Photo: Gene Sorkin / PicNY.com.

The Bikes in Buildings Bill still awaits a hearing in City Council, while building managers weigh whether to voluntarily provide bike access and parking. Thankfully, not everyone is hesitating. Here’s how one New York office building just got friendlier for bike commuters, going beyond access by giving tenants a place to lock up.

Last month, Newmark Knight Frank, a real estate and property management firm, installed an indoor bike rack at 520 Eighth Avenue, a corporate office building that serves 86 businesses and 5,000 employees.

Adam Mansky, a tenant who works at the Center for Court Innovation, asked building manager Peter Troisi if the building should install a bike rack. "I told him I would look into it," Troisi recalls.

Troisi called Eric Gural, the Executive Managing Director at Newmark who is in charge of running the building, and the two agreed that the rack was a good idea.

"Riding bikes to work is a good thing, and we want to support that," Gural explains. "It would not be the same if tenants asked for a free candy machine."

"It was simple," Troisi said. "We ordered it from a catalogue, it came in four weeks, and we installed it ourselves." The rack, which cost $600 and holds ten bikes, is located in the freight entrance to the building. According to Troisi, four to five commuters use the rack every day. If demand increases, says Gural, Newmark will happily install another one.

"Some buildings might say, ‘We have 5,000 tenants, and we are only helping five so it is not a big enough impact,’ but we don’t see it that way," says Gural. "If it had impacted other tenants’ ability to get freight we would not have installed it, but that was not the case."

The building has long accommodated bike commuters; before the rack was installed, tenants could bring bikes up the freight elevator and store them in their offices. Now commuting is more convenient because tenants can drop their bikes in the rack and ride the passenger elevator instead waiting for the freight elevator.

Mansky, who has been commuting for 18 months, says the building’s accommodations have made all the difference. "I have been able to convince a few of my colleagues to commute with me, partly because I tell them they won’t have to leave their bikes outside," he says.

Installing a bike rack into a corporate building is not as simple as it sounds. "It is not as easy as putting a bike rack into your house," says Gural. "The key is cooperation from everyone involved." The building owner, building manager, and management company have to agree. Consensus was relatively easy at 520 Eighth avenue because Newmark both owns and manages the building.

520 Eighth Avenue also had the advantage of good space and security, which some corporate buildings lack. There was space for a rack in the large freight entrance that does not take in as much freight as it used to, and the existing security camera reduced worries about liability.

The good news is that Newmark will probably install bike racks in more buildings. Gural has started LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications in all the buildings he manages — a certification from the U.S. Green Building Council awarded to buildings that meet the highest green standards. By installing a bike rack, buildings earn points toward the minimum number required to get a LEED certification.

In the meantime, the tenants at 520 Eighth avenue could not be happier. Mansky applauds the efforts of Troisi and his staff. "I feel totally welcomed," he says. "It makes my commute that much easier and more fun."

  • Larry Littlefield

    Hey Newmark, how about 530 5th Avenue!

  • My company leased space at 520 Eighth Avenue from 2001 to 2004. The building management was very responsive to our needs, and I have nothing but good things to say about Newmark and Eric Gural. It’s not surprising that they are taking steps to help bike commuters.

    Several of our employees rode their bikes to work, and we fortunately had a bit of unbuilt space where they could store them during the day. The building, as your story indicates, allowed them to bring their bikes up and down the freight elevator without a problem.

    520 Eighth was once home to many garment manufacturers, so it has fairly ample (though not gigantic) freight areas. This likely makes it easier to house bike parking, but I think that Newmark would try to find a way to make it work, regardless.

    If only all building owners and managers were so accommodating.

  • Mr. Gural you sound like a real firm for the future. If you guys want some further publicity when you are going to install even more bike parking in other buildings, would love to follow you around for a short Streetfilm. Make sure to email me when so: clarence@streetfilms.org

    Thanks!

  • vnm

    This is terrific. Great job to all involved.

  • Braddy

    New York has a TON of flat, open rooftop space. Why not use the roof to store bikes? It wouldn’t be difficult to build simple, sheetmetal storage sheds up there. The bikes would be protected from the weather and thieves, and the landlords wouldn’t have to give up any valuable space inside the building.

  • m-o

    That picture, though, shows a common problem with indoor bike parking – racks shoved against a wall are hard to lock to.

    When the rack is placed perpendicular to the wall, though, it makes it possible to lock to, and it doubles the capacity of the rack.

    Three cheers for buildings allowing bikes in.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Is blocking the freight elevator part of good building design? Just curious.

  • Bruce

    It looks like this rack will only hold bikes on one side, so moving it away from the wall likely wouldn’t help much. While inverted U racks would cost more and be more difficult to install, they would work much better, allowing two contact points for the bike and allowing the use of U locks. Usually when I see racks like the one above bikes are parked on the outside ends and parallel to the inside, making it a 3 bike rack.

    Anyway, it’s always good when a building manager/owner agrees to install a rack, and it often just takes people asking. Good luck with the bikes in buildings bill. I’m using it as an example of what other communities are tring to do to allow employees to bring bikes into buildings.

  • Keep in mind that these racks are inside the building, past security. As long as the bike rack is in a relatively high-traffic area, there should be minimal danger from professional thieves. If it’s in a building that’s big enough to be relatively anonymous, you’d probably want to put a cable through the wheels, but let’s not go overboard. Who’s going to strip a bike inside a building, in plain view of the building staff?

    Oh, and three cheers for Peter Troisi, Eric Gural and their bosses at Newmark!

  • Adam

    Quick response to some earlier posts: (1) Re Macchiavelli’s comment, the rack is in front of a dead door not a freight elevator – so it doesn’t block access to anything. (2) Re: M-O, Bruce and Cap’n Transit’s comments – Cap’n Transit is right: the rack is in an area that has building staff around most of the time; in addition, there is a security camera trained on the rack. If the rack were outside, I’d certainly want to lock my frame to it, and Bruce therefore is right that this one wouldn’t hold too many bikes. But here, a lock on the tire feels like it will sufficiently discourage thieves (the building guys have told me that no lock is needed, but I use a U-Lock or cable to minimize risk.) All in all, this has been a win all around – much quicker than waiting for the freight elevator guys to take me up and down to my office, and better for them, because they don’t have to spend time shlepping each bike commuter at the same time they need to move freight stuff. So, three cheers to Pete and Eric are, indeed, in order.

  • I work in this building currently, and this is exciting news! I’m glad the building management was able to do this. However, on other green initiatives, such as recycling, the building lacks support. The building only collects paper, and all cans, bottles, and glass get thrown away. I’ve tried to request that everything gets recycled, but have had little luck.

  • A.Nonny.Mouse

    Cap’n Transit does have a good point, however I’d still prefer a U-shaped (or similar) as opposed to that godawful wheel-bender.

    @ Adam – Mousey say: He who lock only wheel should ride unicycle.

    If you’re backing in like the guy in the pic run the cable through the rear triangle of the frame. It’s a little more secure. Not as good as a proper lockup, but better than the wheel alone and easy to accomplish with the same cable.

  • Mike

    The new bike racks at 40 Worth St (DOT headquarters) solve the problem of these typical “high school” style bike racks by essentially being a row of inverted U’s. So your bike can still be close to the wall but it gives you points to lock both your front wheel & frame. Sorry I don’t have a photo of this style of rack handy.

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