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City Council Bill Would Weaken Bikes in Garages Law, Keep Number of Spaces

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

Two years after the City Council passed the Bicycle Access to Garages law, which set aside space for bike parking in commercial garages, legislators are turning their attention back to the issue. In response to low demand for the garage spaces, a bill sponsored by Queens rep Karen Koslowitz would loosen up some of the design requirements for the bike parking spaces while maintaining the total amount of bike parking required.

A report from the Council's Consumer Affairs Committee, chaired by Manhattan rep Dan Garodnick, lays out the current state of bike parking in garages [PDF]. The law has created 16,378 secure bike parking spaces but, according to a survey of the major garage operators, on average only 27.7 spaces are used each day. That unused space presumably has some garage operators chafing.

Koslowitz's legislation, which received a hearing last Wednesday, wouldn't reduce the number of bike spaces garages need to set aside. Currently, garages with more than 50 car spaces must provide one bike spot for every 10 cars, up to their first 200 car spaces. For garages with more volume than that, one bike spot is required for every 100 additional car spaces.

The Koslowitz bill would give garages more latitude in how to provide bike parking, however. A requirement that each bike be given a 2' x 3' x 6' space, for example, would be eliminated, as would certain requirements meant to protect parked bikes from moving cars.

Caroline Samponaro, the director of bike advocacy for Transportation Alternatives, said she didn't have a problem with the legislation. "The good thing about the bill is it maintains the same number of parking spots." She said providing garage operators with some flexibility in how they provide the parking was a reasonable adjustment to a new law and that the important thing was that ample parking is still provided. "The lack of secure bike parking is one of the deterrents to people riding in New York. Parking garages can be part of that solution."

Cost is also an ongoing concern for the Bikes in Garages law, though not one the Council is addressing. While many have cheered Edison Parking's dollar-a-day bike parking rate, other garages have set rates so high it's hard to imagine anyone paying them.

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