NYC’s Greenest Building Cracks Down on Bikes (Updated)

The Solaire building in Battery Park City bills itself as "America’s first environmentally advanced residential tower." Here is a letter that building management just sent to all tenants:

It has been brought to the attention of Building
Management with increasing frequency that some tenants are using Public
Corridors as storage for bicycles. As well as being in violation of New York
City Fire Code, this is also extremely inconvenient and discourteous to other
tenants. In asking that these tenants cease and desist immediately from this
practice, Building Management would also ask that all tenants make themselves
aware of Building Policy regarding Public Hallways…

Streetsblog reader Hilary Kitasei notes, "The problem is
that all of these new green residential buildings around here have no more
storage space for bicycles, no outdoor bike racks, and no space for bikes in the
parking garages."

The Solaire does, however, offer an underground parking garage for motor vehicles (with 24-7 carbon dioxide monitoring. How green!) We will give a free Open Planning Project t-shirt to the first person who can find out how many car parking spaces there are beneath the Solaire.

Update: Solaire fans are writing in to say that the building does indeed provide a bike parking room, though it doesn’t seem to be big enough to meet demand. A TOPP t-shirt for anyone who can come up with a photo of the bike parking room.

  • mike

    Does anybody know how many automobile parking spots this building has (if any)?

  • If they are really so green, there should be a bike storage room. Lots of buildings have them.

    That said, if you really love your bike, you bring it into your apartment. Don’t leave it in the hallway.

  • ddartley

    I think buildings should be the real battlefield in the fight to make NYC more bike-friendly.

    I have lived/worked in a few different buildings now where I (and, you can tell, others who are less devoted cyclists) go through the following thought process: “wow, cycling would be incredibly useful in this neighborhood, now that I live in this building–let me go get myself a bike! … Okay, now I’ve got a bike, but the only legal place for me to keep it in this building other than in my apartment is in the lousy catacombs of the building where I have to climb over 10,000 never-touched bikes, owned by the hundreds of people who have had this idea and given up on it.

    We all know that “safe parking” is the number 1 reason people in NYC DON’T ride. If residential and business buildings developed officially managed schemes to give space to large nubers of registered bikes (like a lot of them do for tenants’ cars), THEN you’d see lots more of those untouched bikes on the street, which of course would eventually lead to a better overall cycling-friendly environment, government, and culture.

    Buildings should be the main frontline in this fight!

  • Zach

    My work actually has secured, indoor bicycle parking in a building two blocks away, which I consider pretty acceptable. Then I go home and carry my bike up four flights of narrow stairs to the corner of my small bedroom. Hmmph.

  • According to this, the building is supposed to have bike parking:

    http://http://www.nrdc.org/buildinggreen/casestudies/default.asp#solaire

  • pa

    there should some tax deduction incentive for landlords who install safe and secure bike garages in their buildings.

  • nathan

    Has anyone actually checked that this building does not provide bicycle storage. Their claims that they do.

    See –>
    http://www.thesolaire.com/building/index.asp

    They list the following amenities
    • Spacious double-height lobby with park and river front entrances.
    • On-site parking garage.
    • 24-hour concierge with video security.
    • Children’s playroom and bicycle storage.
    • Finely detailed exterior masonry facade including granite, brick, and Vermont slate, with interwoven photovoltaic panels.
    • Residents-only fitness center and aerobic room professionally outfitted with a full complement of strength and cardio-training equipment.
    • Landscaped roof top garden for residents’ exclusive enjoyment.
    • Fireproof construction including full sprinkler system in every home, masonry stairwell enclosures, and 33% more drywall between apartments than code requires.
    • Maid & valet services.
    • Hi-speed elevators.
    • Central water filtration system.

  • todd

    Interesting….I was just looking on the USGBC website and noticed that the Solaire received a LEED credit for “Bicycle Storage and Changing Area”. The Solaire received LEED Gold certification which requires at least 39 points. The Solaire received 41 credits. Considering that they are now renig-ing on this credit, I wonder if there are other credits they’ve renig-ed on and should be dropped to Silver….not that it really matters, but interesting nonetheless.

    U.S. Green Building Council LEED-NC, v.2/v.2.1 in 2004; achievement level: Gold (41 points)

    * Sustainable Sites, 10 of 14 possible points
    o SS Credit 4.2, Alternative Transportation, Bicycle Storage & Changing Rooms

    The requirements for this credit are “storage facilities for securing bicycles for 15% or more of building occupants”.

  • Hilary Kitasei

    The Solaire DOES have a bike room! The point was that it is nowhere near sufficient to meet the demand.

  • Spud Spudly

    Vegas has the over/under at 85.

  • mikes

    Try folding bikes, much more convenient to store. I take mine everywhere – frame is solid like a full size bike, handles a little differently due to smaller wheels. Much easier to take up stairs, fold and carry one-handed.

  • city planning dude

    if the bike room is packed then they need more space. does anybody know how many car spaces versus bike spaces are available? or how many square feet in the bike room?

  • Dave

    You’re conflating two different points. Should there be more bike storage? Yes. Obviously the developers underestimated how much demand there would be for bike storage. It would be great if parking garage operators took some car parking spaces and turned them into bike parking, but since the parking garage is managed by a seperate entity from the building, there is little they could do about it.

    But the point of the letter from building management is very valid. If you don’t have space in your apartment to keep your bike, you need to find some place LEGAL to do so. Storing bikes in public hallways is selfish and a fire hazard. I know that this is a pro-bike website and community, but we have to recognize when bikers are doing something wrong – and this is one of those instances.

  • greg

    i agree with Dave 1:50

  • Murray Hillster

    I’m also in agreement with Dave@1:50.

    Even if they didn’t have space for bikes, people shouldn’t be leaving bikes in the hallway. You don’t fight the alleged hypocrisy of a green building, which has car parking, by effectively blocking hallways with your bike.

    I say this as an avid bike rider in NYC who has always had to figure out ways to store my bike in my various apartments. (hook on the wall being the current winner).

  • Wish I Lived In BPC

    I work for a firm that did some work on Solaire. In looking through the plans and documents we have on file, I have discovered there are 50 on-site parking spaces in the Solaire garage.

    That said, in a tour of Solaire, I was told by the building manager that demand for bike storage was far underestimated, and this was taken into account in the construction of other BPC buildings built afterword. I guess when you build an apartment building at the end of probably the most-used bike path in America, you get a lot of people who want to store their bikes…

    So do I get a tee-shirt?

  • Hilary Kitasei

    I think there are about 250 units in the building. Is there anyone who would NOT want to have a bike living here? And one for every member of the household?

    The solution could be to have building bikes to share. There are plans to have a zip car.

    The other solution would be to create legal outside storage for the hundreds of bikes that would represent the tip of unmet demand in this one building alone.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Yes, of course it’s obnoxious, illegal and a fire hazard to store bikes in the hallways. We really need to bend over backwards to say that?

    The point is that when these things come up, the management office should work to get additional storage space in addition to chastising the tenants. Not because cyclists are always and automatically better people, but because supporting cycling is good for the environment.

  • Management should just convert a few car spaces into bike racks.

    The average car parking spot can hold at least a dozen bikes if designed well.

    Here is what they did in Portland.
    http://bikeportland.org/2007/02/28/belmont-goes-for-on-street-bike-parking/

  • Oh, maybe the reason they don’t convert car parking to bike parking is that car parking can sell for $225,000 in NYC.

    http://carfreeusa.blogspot.com/2007/07/automentia-225000-parking-space.html

    Car parking is obviously more profitable.

  • Carol
  • ex solaire

    I lived in the solaire and had a bike rack space. This article is extremely misleading. There were indeed 2 bike rooms and they were large. Much larger than any I have seen in any other nyc apt building including my current building.

    Apartments in the Soliare are large (so there is room to store your bike), with tons of closets, there are lots of bike racks but there are lots of families with kids. I remember a lot of spaces taken up with kids bikes.

    Look at the flooplan of where I lived
    http://www.thesolaire.com/floorplans/two_bedroom.asp?plan=two_3-18n

    You don’t get that many closets in new condos. That foyer was large enough to store a double SUV stroller without folding it.

    There are far more deserving targets but I guess it wouldn’t make such a good story would it? A green building that doesn’t like bikes?
    No, a green building with tons of bike racks but with a need to prevent fire code violations by keeping the hallways clear.

    If you really want a good story then try and find out why the supposedly double filtered air that came into our apts always stunk of cigarette smoke. Other ppls’ smoke from inside their apartments? Workers smoking near inlet vents? Who knows but that would be a good story don’t you think? The air quality was really that bad.

  • Hilary Kitasei

    I think we all agree that the Solaire probably accommodates bicycles better than any other building in the city —- and yet it is far from enough. There has to be mass development of public parking capacity. The Solaire and its neighbors have led the way in providing public restrooms. Maybe it will figure out a solution for this other civic need.

  • ex solaire

    Now you’re talking about something else. The creation of bike racks for public use.

    But to get back to the point of the article (the letter banning bikes from hallways) since when has storing your bike in your own apartment when you are at home not been an option? Plenty of ppl do it. It just so happens that renters at the Solaire not only had ample space to do that but they had two huge bike storage rooms also.

    Sounds like you would be happier if the residents kept their bikes in their apts and the bike rooms were made open to the public.

  • Alex T.

    They charge $10. per month per bike.

    It is dangerous to store bikes in halls.

  • The Certificate of Occupancy permits 41 parking spaces in the garage. It also indicates that there is a bike storage room. The special Battery Park zoning district limits parking spaces to 20% of the units in a building.

  • A failed constituent

    Thanks #23 for explaining the situation.

    Some cyclists think they can park anywhere – including public space – and that it is all right. It is not! Rather than check out the facts they just rant and rave how unfair the world is to cyclists.

    I have a hook that I hang my bike from in my apartment.

  • Bike Family

    Cars have the right to park on the streets overnight – even for free. Why is it so preposterous to imagine that bicycles could also be allowed to be stored on the street? It may be easy for the bikers in this thread to carry their bikes to their apartments and hang them on books. But you want the rest of us to switch to biking too, don’t you? You may consider floor plan spacious for one person — but we include families and apartment-shares with 5 bikes!

    Forget the crap about bikes in the hallway. That’s not what this is about.

  • ex solaire

    Actually, the article was indeed about bikes in the hallway and the irony of a green building clamping down (pun intended) on bikers. That irony was too much of a juicy target or streetsblog to resist.

    The point did then move onto providing bike rack space for all mankind and I agree, more space is needed.

    I included families in my post (did you not read my reference to our double SUV stroller?) and we all have bikes. One was stored in the bike room and the rest inside the apartment.

    Try to be a little less emotional and you’ll be able to read and see the points being made.

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