No Bicycles Allowed

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.

Many commercial buildings maintain a “no bicycles allowed” policy. Bike commuters that 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.

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.

15 Responses to “No Bicycles Allowed”

  • Duncan Watson says:

    I used to work in NYC and I couldn’t commute by bike since I wasn’t willing to ride a beater and lock it up outside near the loading docks. I worked in the Empire State building who enforced their no bike policy. Though I was friends with a few midtown bike cops who never had trouble getting building security to put their bikes in a room while they visited me upstairs.

    Luckily now I live in the Seattle area and my building has no issues to date regarding bikes inside. Though I use the covered bike corral that is directly under the eye of our receptionist.

  • Croupier says:

    I never knew that this was an issue for bike commuters. I guess just having never been effected by it I’ve taken it for granted. What about a folding bike in carry case? I can’t imagine anyone protesting that but also I don’t really see how that’s much different than throwing your bike over your shoulder as you walk into work.
    Does this have anything to do with bike’s being a tripping hazard in the work place? You know liability/insurance concerns?
    I was kind of surprised that when I decided to start bringing my bike into most stores instead of locking it up outside (about a year ago) absolutely no one would say anything or object to me walking my bike through the isles (and I still haven’t had anyone ask me to leave). Unless I need to push a cart I always bring my bike along with me so I’m kind of shocked that something like this would still be a problem. This bill sounds like a great idea. I certainly hope that it makes the rounds to everywhere that it’s needed.

  • Vik says:

    I regularly roll my Bike Friday Tikit into buildings with no bike signs. So far I have not been denied. I do have a cover for my Tikit, but I haven’t needed to deploy it yet to gain access.

    One issue though that has been on my mind is that people find my Tikit interesting and cool because it’s unique. I get universally positive reactions from people at offices, businesses and restaurants, etc.. The thing is I’m not sure that would be the case if lots of people had folding bikes and were bringing them in with them. I suspect they’d become a nuisance and people would start making “rules” specifically for folding bikes.

    The good news is I doubt there will be a flood of folders on the streets of my city any time soon. It’s hard enough getting people to buy & ride a bike as it is without making the bike expensive and odd!

    On that note you might enjoy these videos of a Tikit trying to get into office buildings in NYC:

    http://tinyurl.com/4yr6nc

    safe riding,

    Vik
    http://www.viks-tikit.com

  • Tom says:

    I guess I’ve been lucky with my current job. Not only can I keep my bike in what passes for an office (industrial building ca. 1956) – I have room to keep my spare “ride around the plant” bike too. Since the facility I work on has multiple buildings spread over many acres (it’s a half mile from my office to my manager’s) having a bike readily available comes in handy. As a matter of fact if I took the spare bike home I’d have a very upset inspector – he looks for things to go get in order to ride the “beater” (1984 Stumpjumper with Wald bars/basket and Schwalbe Fat Franks – smooth….).

    I too have been taking my bikes into stores and I haven’t had any trouble although I haven’t tried it with smaller stores – just the grocery and Lowes. I have gotten lots of surprised looks when they see how much I can fit into a Camper Longflap.

    Tom

  • TJ says:

    Perhaps if a building is accessible to wheelchairs then it ought to be permissible to bring in bicycles. For folks who ride a bike for health and wellness, than a bike is a mobility device.

    TJ

  • andy parmentier says:

    “no bicycles allowed” rung a memory bell..”no dogs allowed” and after running my internal search engine (inside my brain) i can now say i think it was from a “PEANUTS” special, where snoopy has hit the road, alone, and keeps running into “no dogs allowed” everywhere he goes..and a deep bass voice, intones, “no dogs allowed”
    dogs are not allowed in buildings either, but a native american friend of mine made a pointed observation that modern cities/buildings are not fit for dogs (they are dangerous, ergo, a loose dog on the street?) so why are they fit for humans?

  • andy parmentier says:

    SNOOPY COME HOME

  • andy parmentier says:

    and now i remember referring to my unicycle as a faithful companion, like a st. bernard. due to it’s portability and novelty factor perhaps, i can take it on city buses most of the time. also sidewalks. like a folder, a unicycle for me is a city beast, like alan’s brompton. but my tour easy likes to get out in the country.
    eventually, i’d like to take my unicycle where the buffalo raom.

  • Roland Smith says:

    This is a problem of infrastructure.

    Over here in the Netherlands it is not allowed to take your bike into stores etc. And it’s not necessary either, because there are bike parking racks all around. and every road larger then a residential one has seperate cyclepaths.

    Unfortunately, this is a chicken and egg problem. You wont get many people to cycle untill there is infrastructure (cycle paths and parking racks). And you won’t get those until enough people cycle!

    So you have to convince city planners to make the infrastructure. Experience over here has shown that this is the only way to limit accidents and promote cycling.

  • David Hembrow says:

    Roland is, of course, absolutely right. The infrastructure here is marvellous and in fact necessary for the amount of cycling that takes place. As for bike parking, the bike parking at our small provincial railway station is like this:

    http://nl.youtube.com/watch?v=AoxiZRdzI1w

    There are also indoor guarded spaces if you want them, both here at the station and in the city centre. The shopping centre allows cycle parking like this:

    http://nl.youtube.com/watch?v=rEBcXVcWU8Q

    Up the road in Groningen they have this. 4150 spaces here, plus lots more around the area including in another two level outdoor cycle park, and another 1500 guarded spaces inside the station:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfoSq08I6-g

    There are also another 20 or so guarded cycle parking garages in the city.

    And, as I mentioned a few days ago, it is a legal requirement for homes to be built with cycle parking:

    http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2008/09/cycle-parking-at-home.html

    I’ve also posted about parking at churches, shops, schools, bus stops etc. All these places also have extensive cycle parking.

    However, while every workplace provides cycle parking, it’s rare so far as I am aware for people to take their bikes inside their workplace. It’d cause a problem if they did, as there would be an awful lot of bikes inside most workplaces. So, I’m not sure this is a scalable idea.

  • Alan says:

    I agree with Roland. Unfortunately, we are light years behind the Netherlands. Influencing city planners is a great long-term strategy, but then there’s the problem of where to park my bike tomorrow morning. It’s such an immediate and serious problem that Transportation Alternatives president Charles Komanoff estimates that universal bike commuter access to buildings would cause at least a 25 percent increase and perhaps as much as a 50 percent increase in bike commuting in NYC. I suspect the same is true for some cities here on the West Coast.

  • John says:

    I work in a building posted NO BIKES ALLOWED. One day I was wheeling my Tour Easy down the hall and the janitor pointed out the sign. I smiled and I told him it wasn’t a bike but an “inline wheelchair” and wheelchairs are allowed. He was OK with that. I think in most cases if you are not confrontational and try to be discrete about it they will be willing to ignore you.

  • Roland Smith says:

    @Alan

    How expensive can it be to get a bike rack and bolt it down on the pavement next to the door?

    It doesn’t take up a lot of space. In the room where you can park one car you could park a dozen bicycles.

  • David Hembrow says:

    Roland, before moving to the Netherlands I used to live in Cambridge in the UK. That city has easily the highest cycle usage of any place in the English speaking world, though it’s a long way behind even middling cities in the Netherlands.

    Quite a few people do cycle to work in Cambridge with some surveys claiming up to a quarter of all commuters arriving by bike. As a result, quite a lot of offices have a lot of cycling commuters and if any cycle parking is provided at all, it’s generally inadequate.

    However, not one of my employers there would ever consider taking out a single car parking space to make room for bikes, even when we had so many excess car parking spaces that cars belonging to employees of other nearby companies had a choice of places to park.

    One of my ex-colleagues managed to get his company to agree to putting up a shed in the car park by his office to accommodate half a dozen bikes in comfort instead of a single car, and the council made them remove it.

    My commuter bikes almost always ended up tied to a post or leaning against a wall.

    As you point out, it’s not expensive to provide for bikes. However it’s very difficult to get past bone-headed attitudes about providing for bikes.

    This is a part of why we decided we’d rather be buitenlanders in your beautiful country than natives in our own country.

  • 2whls3spds says:

    Instead of mandating a certain number of parking slots per square foot of building they need to start mandating pedestrian and cycling facilities. Quite often the lack of parking is a zoning or ignorance issue. I cycle to and from many places in the deep south. It is not unusual to find entire strip malls, shopping malls or larger stores with NO cycle parking of any sorts. At one mall I could find NOTHING to secure a bicycle to. I left and went elsewhere but wrote a letter to mall management point out their oversight. FWIW they had recently removed all the benches from outside the mall and had the bus stops moved to the perimeter in a poor attempt to control access of the “wrong” type of people.

    Aaron

 
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