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: ## 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.”

  • Anonymous

    I agree that fear of bicycle theft is one of the the biggest reason that people do not bicycle to work or to run errands around town.

  • Nick

    The SFBC or someone should create a “best practices” template of what ideal bike parking accomodations look like. I work in construction and I’ve built a bunch of these- the designers never seem to get it right. Often all they can think of is a chain link fence with “middle school” style rack in the center of the room and that’s it.
    I mean they need lots of individual racks, bolted to the ground. They need better lighting and security cameras. They need card readers instead of swinging gates. Other accomdations would also help like a coat rack or air pump, etc.

  • Lauren Ledbetter

    There’s a good reference document developed by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals. It’s somewhat pricey if you’re not a member, but has very good information.

  • Caley Heekin

    There are in fact a few municipal ordinances on the books pertaining to new and renovated buildings requiring bike parking and access to shower facilities (San Francisco Planning Code section 155.3 and 155.4).  There have been multiple amendments to these sections, so it’s not exactly clear when the “effective date” is for each specific requirement.  But Section 155.3 (shower facilities) was added in 1998 and Section 155.4 (bike parking) was first added in 2001 (then amended in 2009).  So, these sections probably don’t apply to much of the Financial District buildings built decades ago, but definitely apply to the newer construction in SOMA.

    As a co-worker of mine discovered, building owners are not always aware that these ordinances even apply to them.  Our building (which completed construction in 2002) already supplied adequate bike parking within the building’s parking garage, but no access to shower facilities.  My co-worker brought the issue up with building management who, after dragging their feet for some time, finally came up with a solution to the Section 155.3 shower facilities requirement by providing the bare minimum required of them — access to shower facilities at another building four blocks away (an exemption allowed under Section 155.3(e)).

    Unfortunately for us, the facility they made arrangements with was about the furthest four blocks away they could go and still comply with the ordinance.  So we both just opted to retain our memberships to gyms much closer to our building for morning showers after biking in.  But, if these sections apply to your building and you don’t have convenient access to showers or bike parking, you might be able to gain such access by bringing this to your building’s attention.

  • Brad Done

    Do you know how to secure your bike properly while you work?

  • You might be interested in this study my team did last year on Bicycle-Oriented Design for some ideas and approaches that are already in use voluntarily…the paper is here: and the poster here:


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