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Bikes in the Building

New Yorkers don’t have to lock their bikes outside the office any longer. The Department of Transportation’s Bikes in Buildings program allows tenants in commercial buildings to request bicycle access for their employees.

A study conducted by the Department of City Planning cited the main reason commuters don’t bike to work was the lack of safe bicycle storage. In 2009, the DOT launched “Bikes in Buildings” to encourage commercial building owners to accommodate tenants wanting to safely store their bicycles inside the building.

The Bikes in Buildings program is straightforward. It requires building owners to allow bicycles into a freight elevator during regular hours. The DOT must approve an access from the building entrance to the freight elevator and from the elevator to the office.

In order for a building to qualify for the Bikes in Buildings program, it must meet all of the following criteria.

  1. Commercial office building
  2. Has a freight elevator
  3. Tenant or subtenant formally requests access through the DOT

A tenant or subtenant can initiate the Bikes in Buildings program by submitting a tenant request. Employees wanting the Bikes in Building program must lobby the tenant or subtenant. After the tenant submits the request, the building owner has two options. They can participate in the program and submit bicycle access plan to the DOT or eschew the program by filing an exception.

The DOT will grant building owners an exception to the Bikes in Buildings program for two reasons. First, if there is a special circumstance or safety issue presented by having bicycles on the freight elevator. Second, if the building owner can prove there is a sufficient, secure, indoor and no-cost bicycle parking within 3 blocks or 750’ of the building. In either case, the building owner must fill out a DOT form stating the reason for the exception. A DOT inspector will make a final determination on the exception.

If the building owner opts to participate in the program, they must submit a Bicycle Access Plan. Bicycle Access Plans are simple plans detailing the route a bicycle travels to get to the freight elevator. This includes the entrance, route to the freight elevator and route from the freight elevator to accessible level. Bicycle Access Plans must be implemented within 30 days with a notification of the program posted in the building’s lobby within 35 days.

Tenants are responsible for providing a location for employees to store their bicycles. The location must abide by all fire, zoning and building codes without blocking egress.

New building owners who want to accommodate cyclists further can install bike rooms complete with showers and changing rooms. The U.S. Green Building Council incentivizes buildings with bike rooms and showers by awarding points toward LEED certification.