With bicycling booming, traffic fatalities increasing and bike theft up by more than 27 percent, an advocacy group and elected officials have recognized it is time for more bike parking.
On Jan. 5, Transportation Alternatives released a report calling for expanded and improved bike parking in the city. TA also launched an online petition asking Mayor Bill de Blasio to invest in safe, secure bike parking.
For every bike rack in NYC, there are more than 100 free parking spaces for cars. The lack of bike parking is one of the top reasons New Yorkers cite for not biking or biking infrequently.
In the report, “The Power of Bicycle Parking: An Easy, Affordable and Effective Way to Save Lives, Encourage Cycling, and Create a Fairer New York City,” TA argues that secure bicycle parking encourages more people to cycle and lack of parking impacts low income communities and people of color.
“Simply put, there is not enough bicycle parking in New York City,” said Danny Harris, Transportation Alternatives executive director. “Despite more households owning bikes than cars, bike parking has taken a back seat to free private car storage on our streets. Even peer cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C. have significantly more bike parking per-capita than New York. As more New Yorkers turn to bikes, our city needs to start building more bike parking now. Installing dedicated spaces at scale will send a strong signal that biking is safe, reliable and accessible for all New Yorkers.”
The report recommended the city should work with partners like the MTA to build bike parking near transit hubs and to implement policy changes such as the NYPD tracking bicycle theft and to allow developers to build bike parking instead of car parking.
Council Member Ben Kallos, who is a bike rider and one of the only elected officials without a car, spoke with Our Town about the need for more bike parking.
“Anyone would be amused or horrified to learn what New Yorkers do to fit their bikes in tiny studio apartments,” Kallos said. “I once had to put my bike vertically in a bathtub while visiting a friend for lack of bike parking or space in their apartment. I fully support every recommendation from Transportation Alternatives and will work to make them a reality. We’ve already partnered with residents to place bike racks throughout the district anytime they are requested. I am particularly interested in the climate protected and even pods to protect bikes from theft.”
He noted that even if someone is fortunate to live in a building with bike parking, it can take months or a year to get a spot.
According to Kallos, when he first ran for office there were several complaints about bikes being chained to trees and sides of buildings, both of which are illegal. So, when he got elected he asked his constituents how they wanted the streets to look and many wanted more bike parking.
The council member said the city has many bike racks that were purchased under the Bloomberg administration and they just need to be installed. The lawmaker questioned why new housing developments do not have several bike spaces.
“As part of new buildings there have to be bike rooms for residents,” he stressed.
He wants the city to look at not only putting more bike racks in front of restaurants so they can accommodate the delivery drivers, but also install bike shelters and pods.
“I’m nervous about parking in the street without having a parking structure,” he explained. “With the pandemic people are trying to avoid congregating and for the first time, the best option for people to get to most places in Manhattan isn’t a car.”
Kallos said he has spoken with DOT about more bike parking for several years and hopes it takes action sooner rather than later.
A DOT spokesman told Our Town that bike parking is taken quite seriously within the department and it has implemented numerous parking across the five boroughs.
It also has planed enchantments, including 13 bike corrals to be installed starting this winter, which will provide 200 spaces. Bike corrals are bike racks installed in the curbside lane of the street instead of on the sidewalk.
Facing the pandemic in 2020, DOT still managed to install 1,150 bike parking spaces and conducted maintenance across the inventory of nearly 56,000 spaces, and that includes repairs at 900 locations.