Banned From Bringing Your Bike to Work? The Law’s on Your Side Now

bikes_buildings.jpgImage: NYCDOT

Today is a historic day for bicycling in New York City. Local Law 52, a.k.a. the Bikes in Buildings Law, took effect. People all over the city are talking to their bosses about bringing their bikes inside the workplace. And lots of those bosses will be talking to building managers about how to make bike access happen.

One of the biggest obstacles to bike commuting — fear of theft — is in the process of being surmounted. It won’t happen overnight, but it never would have happened at all without many years of relentless work by Transportation Alternatives and strong support this time around from the mayor’s office, City Council, and DOT.

Sure, there are gaps in the law — like the fact that commercial buildings without freight elevators are exempt. But bike advocates went toe to toe with the real estate lobby and came out on top. As former TA director John Kaehny told us back when the law passed the City Council, a legislative victory like that matters for many reasons: "More than anything else, it validates bicycles as legitimate."

So a little celebration might be in order, and, if you’re currently banned from bringing your bike inside, a little research too. Start with DOT’s bikes in buildings page. You might also want to tune in to NY1 at 9:00 tonight. TA’s Wiley Norvell will be fielding calls about the new law.

  • Gross

    The building might be required by law to allow access, but your Employer is not required to allow bicycles in the work place. A loop hole so big you can ride your bike through it…

  • Gross: Not a bad place to start, though. If there’s extra space in your office & your boss/office manager is reasonable (and plenty of them are), you can bring your bike in, and that’ll get momentum going for bike parking as an expected amenity for a good job.

    At the two places I’ve worked in the past two years, in both cases the company I was working for was fine with me bringing in my bicycle but the building management objected.

  • Gwin

    Also, you have to take into consideration the operation hours of a building’s freight elevator — another huge loophole. The one in my building only operates until 6 PM, making it useless for me (unless I want to take 20 minutes out of my workday an hour before I normally leave).

  • Here’s a fly-on-the-wall view of the initial hearing back in 2008
    If you make it to the end, you’ll see me getting up and championing the folding bike flag (well, someone’s gotta do it, might as well be me)
    Of course, it would be way better if I didn’t work for folding bike company in saying this, but for those who are still getting hassled by building owners despite the new bill, you can always get a folder in the meantime, park it under your desk, and when those storage rooms open up, ditch it for your *real* bike. :o)
    I wrote about that after attending the AIA Fit City Conference and debating this with bicycle scholar John Pucher
    – there’s a link to my personal rant on my blog about that
    Just for fun, here are the latest instalments on my ongoing tikit on trial experiment in NYC which started back in 2007:
    Hmmmmm this almost makes me want to go buy a full sized bike, a bamboo Calfee maybe, if I could get my leg over it being 5′ nothing … when I’m 94 …

  • Kaja

    The freight in my building closes at 4.45pm, which also makes this useless for me. Also: My building used to allow bikes period-end-of-story, but as a matter of spite in response to freight hours, has banned them outside of freight hours. I’m told this is true for all Jeffries Morris buildings in the city.

    Unintended consequences, people. This sort of thing shouldn’t be solved by force.

  • Kaja

    er. “as a matter of spite in response to the Bikes-in-Buildings bill”, rather. *sips coffee*

    Freight operators now taunt cyclists in the elevator on our way out at 4.30pm, asking me and the others “how we enjoy the No-Bikes-In-Buildings bill,” followed by (in the case of one manager) a classic evil villain’s laugh.

    Some of us are continuing to use the elevator on principle, but a lot of folks have just been scared off entirely, and either tie up on the street or have given up riding to work.

    This is the building management’s desire, it’s the opposite of the intention of the bill, and as a result I’m ready to call the bill an abject failure, at least as far as I can see.

  • regarding the loophole, i once had a newbie security guard punch me because i tried to take my bike to work, on a saturday even, with no-one in the building. he told me it was against the law to have bikes in any building(including residential) and that it was a violation of fire codes and that he could get fired if i took my bike up the stairwell that no-one used, like i had been doing for months before he started working there. i researched it and found that there are no violation of fire codes and that there was no illegality in taking a bicycle into a building. i insisted that the dude’s boss reproduce these supposed laws, which he could not. i resumed taking my bike into the building and never had a problem again.

    the point is, people believe whatever they hear and are too lazy to find the truth. these winners assumed that what they heard was true, but it wasn’t. you have to remember how afraid everyone is of litigation. this can be used to your advantage. telling someone that it is now against the law to disallow bicycles in buildings and possibly even reproducing a copy of the law for them to see, that they most likely won’t take the time to read or even understand, may be enough to scare some folks into submission.


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