Bicycle News in NYC: What You Need to Know

Bicycle ridership is on the rise. More than 750,000 New Yorkers use a bicycle regularly (at least once per month), more than three times the number of riders almost two decades ago.

To support sustainability and provide an alternative means of transportation, the City of New York has been doing a lot of work around expanding bicycle-related infrastructure, such as adding new bike lanes—almost 300 miles within the last five years—and expanding their partnership with Citi Bike to work towards providing service throughout the five boroughs. According to the Department of Transportation, daily Citi Bike Trips are up an average of 16% in comparison to 2016 figures. Access to bicycles in the city is only expected to increase amidst Citi Bike’s own plans to expand its bike sharing services to users.

The City of New York also recently enacted two new laws that would improve riders’ ability to transport bicycles within office buildings. If you’ve been thinking about commuting to work by bicycle, but are unsure of what to do with your bike after you get to the office, or if you manage a commercial building and you’re looking for guidance, here’s what you need to know:

The new laws build upon the 2009 enacted bicycle access law, which require owners and managers of office buildings with at least one freight elevator to create a bicycle access plan upon a tenant’s request. The new laws now require that owners of office buildings make passenger elevators available for foldable bicycle access. Any existing bicycle access plans must also be amended to reflect these new requirements. Owners are also required to post signage outlining the building’s access plan and associated rules, or post signage indicating where tenants and other occupants may access the plan.  Both local laws took effect last September and are being enforced accordingly.

If requested, office buildings must provide at least one freight elevator for bicycle transport during normal hours of operation. If a freight elevator is not available or operational within the building during those hours, foldable or compact-assembly capable bicycle access must be provided by passenger elevator as an alternative. Tenants must also certify that they have enough storage available within their leased space to ensure compliance with building and fire codes as well as occupants’ ability to enter or leave the premises, especially in the event of an emergency.

Owners can ask to be exempted from the rule, but they need to file an exception request with the Department of Buildings explaining why they cannot accommodate a request for bicycle access. Exemptions may be granted if use of the building’s freight elevator involves a substantial safety risk or if there is a sufficient off-site bicycle storage facility within a few blocks from the building that is either owned or operated by the owner or manager. Once exemptions are granted, owners must post or make available upon request a letter of exception from the City.