One of the benefits of riding your bike is the ease of parking, especially in a crowded city. But as more drivers convert to cycling, the parking crunch has affected bicycles, as well. Tuesday’s article in the New York Times tells the woeful tales of city cyclists who, after a long commute, suffer the agony of searching for a parking spot, of which there are precious few.
New York’s Mayor Bloomberg and David Yassky, a city councilman from Brooklyn, are advocating for more bike racks and for provisions that would require businesses to provide bike storage on-site. The city plans to install 1,200 bike racks by 2009, and will require large commercial buildings to supply bike storage.
Currently, the majority of commercial buildings don’t allow bikes indoors. In most, wheeling your bike through the door is equally offensive as wandering in barefoot and shirtless to panhandle. Regardless, the result is the same: cyclists can expect to be gruffly reprimanded and turned away.
Despite persistent protests, cyclists have been met only with stubborn opposition by commercial real estate owners. Businesses won’t budge on their anti-bike rules, which cyclist Robert Kotch called “an arcane policy that says bikes are like the bubonic plague.”
Some cyclists, however, are tackling the problem creatively by relying on the kindness of bike-friendly strangers.
Some commuters, like Jamie Fisher, a futures broker in Midtown who bicycles 25 miles from Glen Rock, N.J., have relied on creativity to keep their bikes secure. For a time, the manager of a parking garage kept Mr. Fisher’s bike inside the garage office for free. Now, a newspaper vendor with a storefront allows him to store his bike in the shop’s basement.
Robert Kotch, who regularly commutes from New Jersey with Mr. Fisher, has found himself playing host to four or five of what he calls “bike refugees” — friends who ride to work but have no place to park. Mr. Kotch, who owns a courier service and trucking company, provides a haven for several fellow cyclists at his Midtown office.
Indoor parking is preferable not only for convenience, but for safety, as clever thieves can saw through even tough Kryptonites. For now, NYC commuter cyclists are left to scavenge for a free space, even if it means illegally locking their bike to a meter or signpost, which is against NYC ordinance.
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