Many commercial buildings maintain a “no bicycles allowed” policy. Bike commuters who work in these buildings are faced with a dilemma: violate company policy by sneaking in your bike, or lock it on the street and hope it’s there at the end of the day. In many cases, a no-bicycles-allowed policy is written into the lease and the employer is at risk if they allow their employees to bring bikes into the building. Consequently, employees may be at risk of being reprimanded or even terminated if they violate the policy.
For the past six months, my employer has been working with our landlord to come up with a bike parking solution in our building. We were technically in violation of our lease by bringing bikes into the building, but our landlord was overlooking the infractions as we worked on a solution. An in-building parking solution was never found, so even though there were no documented cases of damage due to bicycles, our landlord recently started enforcing the no-bikes-allowed policy. Fortunately, my employer was able to work a deal with the City to provide a bicycle parking “bullpen” (basically a fenced area with access granted only to bike commuters) in an adjacent parking garage. It’s not a perfect solution, but it beats on-street parking.
Often, landlords cite “building damage” and “liability” as reasons for restricting bicycle access; in my opinion these are groundless arguments. In large buildings, trash cans, dumpsters, cleaning carts, catering carts, hand trucks, and a whole host of other rolling objects are allowed in on a daily basis; all of these are more likely to damage a building than a bicycle. I believe the liability/damage argument is a red herring used to obfuscate the feeling held by some landlords that bicycles look unprofessional and are not proper decorum within modern office buildings.
Advocates in New York City are attacking the problem head on with the “Bikes in Buildings” bill. The bill would force commercial landlords to allow their tenants to bring bikes into their buildings. At a time when encouraging alternate modes of transportation is paramount, the bill makes great sense. Thirty members of the City Council have already signed on to the measure and advocates are pushing the Council to consider the bill this fall; it’ll be interesting to see if it passes.