New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community
Bill Morris in Green Ideas on April 22, 2016
Mark Levine, a principal in the property management firm EBMG, says that storage space – for bicycles and other possessions – is second only to parking spaces as the most desirable amenity in the buildings he manages. “It’s an amenity that’s highly valued,” Levine says. “It’s an amenity of convenience and a source of soft income, which are few and far between in co-ops and condos.”
The rising value of bike storage space mirrors the continuing rise in bike ridership. The most recent data from the American Communities Survey, from 2014, shows that nearly 43,000 New Yorkers commute to work by bike – more than double the number in 2006. Meanwhile, the Citi Bikes program, despite some early glitches, continues to grow in popularity – to 10 million rides in 2015, a 25 percent jump from the previous year.
One beneficiary of the city’s embrace of two-wheel transport is Richard Cohen, who founded Velodome Shelters in 2012 to manufacture outdoor bike shelters and indoor bike storage. The biggest challenge in New York City, he says, is finding space.
“It’s tough because there are a lot of people in a building and usually the storage is in the basement,” Cohen says. “And very often, bike racks compete with tenant storage lockers for space.”
One of the Velodome’s solutions to the scarcity of indoor space is to move bike storage outdoors. This can entail erecting a canopy over the outdoor storage area, installing enclosed, lockable shelters, or erecting 12-foot-by-4-foot modular shelters that can accommodate nine bikes. Modules can be added to make maximum use of available space and meet growing demand.
“These outdoor storage options can generate a lot of money while freeing up space in the interior storage room,” Cohen says. In addition, Velodome installs horizontal, vertical, and double-decker racks, and also ramps that help riders lift bikes to elevated racks.
When Cohen was serving on the board of his 300-unit co-op in Greenwich Village, bike storage became a priority – and he got pressed into service to increase the capacity, order, and security of the building’s bike room. He achieved the goal by buying 25 vertical racks (but not from Velodome).
“A bit of advice for any building: it’s hard to predict interest,” he says. “In our building, we posted a sign-up sheet to see how many people were interested. Then we got reps from the manufacturing companies to look at our space, meet with the board, and come back with a simple drawing and an estimate of what it will cost. A big mistake a lot of buildings make is packing too many bikes into the space.”
There are additional considerations. “Boards should also remember that you have all kinds of people in the building,” Cohen says, “and the storage area must be accessible to everyone – seniors, kids, women.” Another issue is that many people get a false sense of security if the bike room can be locked, forgetting that anyone with a key can make off with unlocked bikes. There are gradations of security, with “Class 1” at the top: an enclosed space with a lockable door and storage racks that accommodate locks for each bike’s frame and at least one wheel. Cohen also recommends installing a security camera in the bike room.
That may be overkill for your building. But remember: this is New York City, and bicycles are highly coveted not only by bike riders, but also by thieves.
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