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.

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