Williams chairs hearing on bicycles in NYC buildings

Councilman Jumaane D. Williams.
Associated Press / Robert Mecea

New York City Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings, chaired by Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane D. Williams last held a hearing to consider three pieces of legislation on bicycles in office buildings and elevator violations.

The Committee received testimony from representatives of the Department of Buildings (DOB), the Department of Transportation (DOT), property owners, bicycling advocates and other interested members of the public.

The three bills heard were Int. No. 405, 695 and 795. Intro. 405 would require office buildings provide foldable bicycle access in passenger elevators. Currently, certain office buildings are required to provide bicycle access only in freight elevators.

Int. No. 695 would require owners of residential buildings to allow tenants or subtenants to use building elevators to transport their bicycles to and from their apartments.

Int. No. 795 would require office buildings to allow bicycles to be brought into the buildings and use freight elevators the same as ordinary freight.

Where freight is provided unescorted access to freight elevators, bicycles would be transported in the same way, said Williams, who is also Deputy Leader of the City Council.

The 2009 “Bicycle Access to Buildings Law,” required owners, managers or other persons in control of a commercial office building with at least one freight elevator to, upon a tenant’s request for bicycle access, file a Bicycle Access Plan or Exception Request with DOT.

The plan must be completed and implemented within 30 days of the tenant’s request.

An Exception Request can be made if: the building’s freight elevator is not available for use because unique circumstances exist involving substantial safety risks directly related to the use of such elevator; or there is sufficient, secure, alternate, no-cost bicycle parking available indoors or in a covered off-street location and such parking is either on the premises or within three blocks or 750 feet of such premises, whichever is less.

“As our City continues to grow at a rapid rate, it’s important that this Council makes it easier for people to have a bike and store them once they’ve reached their destination,” said Williams, who represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn.

“By expanding the Bicycle Access to Buildings Law, we will make New York a more healthy, bike friendly environment while decreasing bike thefts across the City,” he added. “I look forward to working with our Administration and Transportation Chair Rodriquez to increase bicycle transportation and remove barriers bicyclists currently face.”

In a city that strongly focuses on its environmental impact, Williams said residents often take up cycling as way to reducing their carbon footprint.

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