Third time’s the charm - Councilman Yassky to reintroduce stalled bike bill

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City Councilmember David Yassky is redoubling his efforts to push a bill requiring office buildings to accommodate bicycle parking for employees.

His office has teamed up with Transportation Alternatives, the cyclist and pedestrian advocacy organization, to generate support for the bill, which Yassky first introduced in 2004.

The bill did not get out of the City Council’s Housing and Buildings Committee in 2004 or when Yassky re-introduced it in 2006.

Now, he hopes a summer advocacy push – which includes a petition on his personal website – will propel the bill when he introduces it again this fall.

Yassky and other supporters tout the bill as a way to encourage cycling, which promotes healthier living, less congested streets and cleaner air.

“If we want people to bike to work, we have to give them a safe place to store their bikes when they get there. Until we do, cycling isn’t going to rise, congestion isn’t going to go down and air quality isn’t going to go up. It’s as simple as that,” Yassky said.

According to Transportation Alternatives, 70,000 bikes are stolen off New York City streets every year. Of these, only 2 percent are recovered.

Wiley Norvell, communications director at Transportation Alternatives, said that fear of theft is the number one deterrent to more people biking to work.

“Of the short list of things you can do to increase cycling in the city, indoor bike parking is on the top. There are tens of thousands of New Yorkers who would bike to work every day if they had a place to safely park their bikes,” Norvell said.

He also cited building management companies, rather than employers, as the main impediment to bike parking in buildings.

Many suspect the bill’s inability to get past committee is attributable to the opposition of the Real Estate Board of New York, or REBNY, the city’s largest and most powerful real estate trade association.

Marilyn Davenport, senior vice president of REBNY, proclaimed the bill “not realistic at all.”

“What if there’s no space for bikes? What if there’s mechanical equipment in the basement? And you can’t mandate that people be allowed to put bikes on freight elevators. What if somebody’s moving in and out? It’s just not practical,” she said.

Yassky spokesman Jake Maguire said Davenport was exaggerating the pitfalls.

“With a little creativity, it’s not as difficult as they’re making it sound,” he said.

“If they’re thinking that it’s not professional-looking and doesn’t jibe with the office atmosphere, I really don’t think this outweighs the environmental, health, and transportation benefits,” Maguire said.

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