Community Board 6 mulling bike parking amidst recent thefts

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.”

6 thoughts on “Community Board 6 mulling bike parking amidst recent thefts

  1. Easy answer. Remove some of the docks at the ubiquitous Citibike stations, and replace them with regular bike racks.

    As far as theft is concerned, there’s another simple solution as well. Do not ever, ever lock a valuable bike on the street, unless it’s constantly in your view. Since the advent of cordless power tools, any bike lock ever created can be defeated in a couple of minutes.

    Anyone with any NYC cycling experience knows it’s asking for it, locking a $3k bike on the street. Hopefully the victim’s rental insurance will cover it…

    • The thing about what you’re saying is that you also can’t lock a $1000 or a $300 bike on the street, either. It’ll just be gone. A user can’t buy one of those every day.

      And nobody should want to steal a $3,000 bike outfitted for cargo and family riding. Who are you selling that to? Another family who buys stolen bikes?

      It’s not enough to have bike lock racks. The racks that the city provides are not just compromised, they’re a joke. Hardware stores sell battery-powered tools that can defeat a $100 bike lock in minutes/seconds. The tools are getting stronger every year.

      Possible solutions include cheap but effective surveillance of open-air corrals (maybe a use for all those Ring cams people are throwing out) and physical-restricted access sheds like some other cities have. The technology for all of these things has gotten better & cheaper, too. (Also, the city could make a more concerted effort to find private space for such a purpose or to convince existing garages to rack bikes, as better racks make it possible to file more bikes away & charge more money for the space)

      No solution should offer to permanently store a private bike, and nothing can be foolproof, but if no initiative is taken then it’s just not going to be possible for people to use a bike at any price. And we need to facilitate these trips because it’s not just about the environment or convenience, it’s about people deciding whether or not the city is actually allowing them do basic things and get around in some fashion. If everything is impossible to accomplish in NYC then people will leave. And this is an area where New Jersey is ahead of us.

      • I would not lock ANY bike up on the street that I couldn’t bear to lose, because it could easily happen.

        That said, I’ve been doing it for 30 plus years and the only one that was stolen was taken from a Stuy Town bike room. Even the best locks can be quickly defeated with portable power tools, so best combo is good locks, cheap beater bike. Something with little to no resale value is the best disincentive.

  2. Juvenile Brian is not content with having a “news” article planted on his behalf–he has to comment thereon, in his usual long-winded fashion, too. Relatives of mine have had multiple bicycles stolen in NYC, beginning in 1938. Later on, they were swiped from locked Stuyvesant Town “Carriage Rooms”…probably by Met Life’s own employees! (And obviously, this was way before the availability of battery-powered cutting tools.) None of those thefts rated any media coverage. Furthermore, all Community Boards are neck-deep in corrupt political intrigues which only benefit a small minority of citizens.

  3. Brian said, “If everything is impossible to accomplish in NYC then people will leave. And this is an area where New Jersey is ahead of us.”

    Not true. No state has seen a greater percentage of its population leave than NY. NY was #2 in terms of population density and now we are fourth or fifth and about to go lower. In terms of NYC almost 200 people per day, NET, leave the city in the last year. Texas and Florida are booming. I just read today that Florida adds 900 people per day, currently. Both have passed NY, which is odd if people believe in climate change.

    Scorpion said, “Furthermore, all Community Boards are neck-deep in corrupt political intrigues which only benefit a small minority of citizens.”

    Too true!!

  4. Not everything in New York is about bicycles. The bike lobby represents a tiny amount of New Yorkers, I believe less than 1% of the city population and yet the streets are consistently being adjusted for them and their needs. CB Six should not be giving more money to the small group of residents that live in the area for their particular needs and instead should be fighting for Bicyclists to adhere to safety laws as most don’t abide by bike lanes or traffic signals. They also should be considering the needs of their residents who may be elderly or disabled and NEED to take a car service or Taxi for transportation but now need to spend $20.00 to go 10 blocks because of limited traffic lanes and congestion pricing. Transportation Alternatives should not be allowed to dictate what happens to our streets and CBSix should be working to make NYC more livable for all not just one particular group of people.

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