Bringing Bikes into Buildings

The Department of Transportation (DOT) wants to decrease motor vehicles on the road and increase the amount of bicycles. December 11, 2017 marks eight years of the Bikes in Building Program. This legislation gives leaseholding tenants a formal way to request secure bicycle storage from building owners. building owners need to sign off on requests for secure bicycle storage if tenants request it.

This gives more of an incentive for employees to bike to work. The top reason why cyclists don’t bike to work is the lack of secure parking. This helps promote healthy living and exercising, as well as decreasing carbon footprints and street congestion. With this law in place, building owners and security cannot deny bike parking access for arbitrary reasons if employers have made a safe place for storage.

Bikes do not end up having an effect on the standard wear and tear of high trafficked lobbies. They also are not hazardous because they don’t emit exhaust, and aren’t flammable. They are safe and relatively easy to store.

Tenant Requests

Bicycle Access to Office Buildings is not automatic for any commercial building with freight elevators. The building owner needs to receive a Tenant Request from leaseholding tenants or subtenants. Tenants must conclude how much space will be needed for bicycles. Individual employees are not authorized to send the official request.

Employees should instead speak to their employers about bicycle space. In a larger office, it may be best to first contact HR, Facilities, or Environmental Affairs departments about the matter. In smaller offices, it may be more appropriate to bring it up directly with the employer. Before making a request, ask fellow employees if they too are interested in secure bicycle parking.

Once a figure of how many people are interested in secure storage has been determined, a Tenant Request can be submitted. The form can be found online here.

Fulfilling the Request

Bicycle Access Plan

Building owners that approve a Tenant Request implement bicycle storage. Therefore, a Bicycle Access Plan must be created. The template can be found here.

The plan must provide details about the path cyclists follow through the building with their bike. This includes entry and exit details, and the route to the elevator. Hours of operation for any freight elevators used must be listed.

The Access Plan must be posted in the lobby within 35 days of the Tenant Request. It also must be submitted within to the DOT online or by mail within 40 days of the Request.

Tenants need to make space for the bikes after having their request approved. This space must comply with current fire codes. “Dead spaces” are useful areas for bike parking. This can be ends of hallways, reception areas, and underneath stairs.

Denying the Request

There are two reasons why owners may request an exception:

  1. There is ample alternate bike parking available within three blocks/750ft. of the building
  2. There are safety concerns about using the freight elevator holding cyclists

If either of these are true, the building owner must Request an Exception within 15 days of receiving the Tenant Request. The tenant must be notified of this exception request within 30 days of their request. The Exception Request will either be accepted or rejected by the DOT.

Alternative Parking

If an Exception Request has been approved by the DOT, a building owner may inform tenants about parking alternatives. Most options are not as secure as keeping it within your office but can be plausible options to share.

If there is not ample parking in the vicinity, bike racks can be requested from the city. As installation of these racks is based on overall demand, the best way to take action is to contact neighboring businesses, institutions, and the community board. Group proposals can have a larger impact. The CityRacks application can be found here.

In addition, parking garages over 100 cars are required to provide spaces and resources such as locks and chains for bicycle parking. Informing tenants about alternative parking lets them know that you’re still trying to help, even if you’re unable to accommodate their bikes on-site.

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