When is New York City going to become bike friendly?

The other night, I went to the movies with a friend. The Kips Bay movie theater on 2nd Avenue has no bike racks, not that there are that many around the city, so I figured I'd keep the bike at his apartment. Unfortunately, his building has a rule that bikes are not allowed to be brought upstairs. The only place you're allowed to store a bike is in the building's storage area at an extra cost. Therefore, anyone trying to save money by biking to work pretty much loses that savings in bike storage costs--even if you can fit your bike in your apartment.

That's not the first time I've encountered this. Just yesterday, I went to go bring my bike up the elevator of our office and was turned away by the people at the front desk. Instead, I had to go around to the fright elevator. Unfortunately, the freight elevator is only open at certain times. I often work late. Good thing the night guard doesn't seem to mind when I exit the building with the bike through the front, because I don't have an alternative.

Even New York Sports Club fails in being bike-friendly. Once I asked the club manager on 35th and Madison if I could pull my bike into their lobby over by the side, because there wasn't even a parking pole outside the building to chain it to. He said "no", because this was one of their high end locations and they didn't want a bunch of bikes tarnishing the visual appeal of the gym. God forbid this should look like a place where people who participate in athletic, environmentally friendly activities work out.

While I'm complaining, I'll throw in Hudson River Park. Park police are more than willing to ticket you if you should bike anywhere but the little road, which means you can't bike along the path from the road to the Pier 96 boathouse. Since pedestrians and bikers share bike space on that main little road, this doesn't make much sense at all. In fact, I can't tell you the number of times I've nearly been hit walking out of the boathouse space on Pier 40 by the park police themselves driving around in their little golf carts. Want to protect pedestrians? Get those things off the road.

Some areas in parks don't even allow you to walk your bike in, let alone ride it. Try going to a sports game up at Riverbank State Park on 138th. I play softball up there and I'm not allowed to walk my bike to the softball field where I can chain it against a fence and watch it. Instead, I'm forced to chain it in a place where the park police person in the guard booth takes no responsibility for it whatsoever.

With all the time and effort we're trying to spend on congestion pricing, and the fair hikes, the green initiatives, etc... why isn't there some serious bike friendly legislation going on in this city?

Here are some suggestions:

  1. It should be illegal to prevent someone from walking with their bike anywhere... in elevators, parks, etc. You don't make people with wheelchairs take freight elevators, and those things have just as many protruding metal parts that can do damage--because that would be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. And don't even get me started on the size of some of the strollers people are pushing around the city... they're bigger than some bikes!!
  2. Every building with over a certain size should have to provide a safe and easily accessible space to store bikes AND be liable for their theft as if it took place in their own lobby. It would probably minimally impact their insurance bills and certainly provide an incentive to put the racks and storage space in a well lit area visible to lobby attendants. I had a bike stolen two years ago because the bike rack in front of 915 Broadway is about 10 feet past the slight lines of the guy at the front desk.
  3. Give out special unlimited Metrocards for bikers during good weather months that delay experiation for every weekday that you don't use the card. I probably bike about 3 out of every five weekdays when the weather is nice, but I still buy the unlimited card because of how many times I use the subway to go to meetings, lunches, bad weather days, days I don't bike... I did the math and its nearly a push, so I'm not really able to save on transportation costs by biking part of the time. You have to be a fulltime road warrior to save any money. Certainly there's no incentive for anyone else to bike once or twice a week.
There should be some kind of a marketing campaign around being "bike friendly certified". Movie theaters, gyms, libraries, Starbucks, Jamba Juice... they should all ban together to do what it takes to become bike friendly. Racks would be a nice start.