By Maria Rocha-Buschel
With residents on high alert about bicycle security, members of the Community Board 6 transportation committee discussed the possibility of allocating bike parking somewhere in the district at a recent meeting on Monday, January 6.
One committee member suggested that the community board encourage the development of bike parking that repurposes old bus shelters to be used as bike parking, similar to a structure currently in place at West 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue.
Committee member Brian Van Nieuwenhoven noted that while the city has installed this kind of bike parking in other parts of the city, including one in Union Square, it didn’t seem like an initiative they were expanding, and he said that he’s more concerned about bike security, citing the Peter Cooper Village resident whose $3,000 cargo bike was stolen just after Christmas.
“Whatever has gone on with bicycle theft, it has not abated in the city,” he said, adding that if the community board wants funding for this, it’s better to get the request in sooner rather than later.
“We can ask DOT to fund a program and then we can take the locations later, but I think that’s the sort of thing that the committee should move on because if we wait until May or June we might get completely bumped off the agenda,” he said.
Another possibility for bike parking in the district, in addition to decommissioned bus shelters, is making use of space in car garages, which certain garages are mandated to do by law anyway. The Department of Consumer Affairs requires that any garage accommodating 51 or more automobiles provide at least one bike parking spot for every 10 car parking spaces up to 200 spaces, and for garages that accommodate 200 or more automobiles, they must provide at least one additional bike parking space for every additional 100 car spots. Bikes must be stored inside a secure holding are or on a bike rack that allows the wheel and frame to be locked.
Committee member Phil Napolitano noted that this would be useful to provide bike parking in the neighborhood but many garages seem to skirt the law and he was open to suggestions about how to get garages to comply.
“Currently garages are required to have to meet to have a number of bicycle spots to automobiles, but they don’t because obviously car spots are more lucrative than bicycles,” he said. “My thinking was that we encourage them to use unused space such as vertical bike walls so that they do offer more bike spots, and maybe that could be a budget request.”
Committee chair Sandra McKee noted that since the garages are required by law to provide the parking, a formal request shouldn’t even be necessary.
“Garages are controlled and so we should just ask them to obey the law,” she said. “I don’t know that we have to go through a long process. It’s DCA that controls the garages, so if we know of a garage that doesn’t provide this, we make sure they meet the law. It seems fairly straightforward.”