Transportation Alternatives applauds the Bloomberg Administration's announcement that the zoning code will now require indoor bicycle parking at all new office and apartment buildings. In enabling future New Yorkers to undertake zero emission commutes, this is a large and necessary step towards a more sustainable city. It also makes good economic sense, as more and more tenants are demanding bicycle access so their workers can take advantage of this green, low-cost commuting alternative.
Even if the fortunes of the building industry improve, however, it will take decades for this new code to have a meaningful impact. Therefore the City must also act to enable bicycle access in the stock of existing buildings, which will still comprise at least 85% of New York City's building stock in 2030. Most commercial building operators refuse bicycles access, even when the tenant has space set aside for bike parking in his or her office.
"Mayor Bloomberg's push for indoor bike parking in the zoning code is an investment in the future. We need to match it with bicycle access to the office buildings of today," says Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives.
Legislation that would require existing commercial buildings to allow bicycles through their doors has long sat idle in City Council. It is critical that the Council pass legislation recognizing that in buildings throughout the city, bicycle space set aside by building tenants is not being used because building owners and managers are prohibiting workers from bringing their bicycles through front, side and even back doors and freight elevators. While it is unreasonable to require all owners of existing buildings to immediately set aside rentable space for bicycle parking, buildings should immediately be required to allow their tenants bicycle access to their own space.