San Francisco Could Require Bicycle Access in Downtown Buildings

"Bike parking for Alta office. We replaced a parking spot with this wall-mounted rack." Flickr photo: Lauren Buckland

Commercial buildings in downtown San Francisco could be required to provide indoor bicycle parking accommodations under a proposal introduced at last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

“One of the ways that we can really assure our bikes are safe from theft is to be able to bring them into our buildings,” said Supervisor John Avalos, who has asked the City Attorney’s Office to draft the legislation.

Providing secure parking would encourage would-be bicycle commuters deterred by the prospect of leaving their bicycle locked to on-street poles and bike racks for hours, where they could be vulnerable to theft. In 2007, police estimated 2,000 to 3,000 bikes are stolen in the city every year, according to the Bay Guardian.

“For many existing commercial buildings, there isn’t bike access,” said Avalos, “and we want to be able to provide that access in the future for cyclists in San Francisco.”

“It’s the last major gap in solving the commuter bike parking problem,” said Dave Snyder, executive director of the California Bicycle Coalition. Many office buildings, he noted, have room for bike parking but don’t allow access.

“If you’ve got a car parking garage, it’s easy to convert enough space to provide secure bicycle parking,” he said, “and a lot of people already work in situations where their company doesn’t mind if they bring their bikes in as long as they stash it out of the way.”

The legislation would “either require commercial buildings to provide space, locker rooms for cycles, or to allow workers to bring bicycles into the buildings,” said Avalos, and would be modeled after a New York City law which yielded an estimated 1,764 indoor parking spots just five months after being enacted in 2010.

“It’s good that San Francisco is serving as a best practices city,” said Snyder.

It is not known when the legislation will be officially introduced, but Avalos said he intends “to be working with bike advocates as well as the building owners and managers associations and related unions that do work in the buildings to make sure that we have a plan that can move forward and be successful.”