Create a Bicycle Storage Room the Easy Way

With the increase in gas prices comes an increase in bicycle ridership.  It is an easy way to get from neighborhood to neighborhood, less expensive than taking cabs or even the bus, and adds exercise to a daily routine. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, it creates many headaches for condo owners, landlords, building maintenance crews, and other tenants that have to maneuver around the cycles on a daily basis.  In recent years, laws have been passed requiring building owners to provide bike parking for tenants.  This can be a cause for panic when space is at a premium already.  Bike rooms don’t need to be worrisome.   Bike storage methods can be very simple yet effective. 

There are experts in every field and bike storage is no different.  Many storage companies can provide recommendations for bike storage at no extra charge.  There also specific companies that specialize in bike racks.  These companies can analyze your space, provide renderings of what the racks would look like, make recommendations, install racks, etc.  So, depending on the budget, bike storage can be anything from a do-it-yourself project to a contracted project. 

Bike storage options start at the very basic level.  If money is a concern, very simple floor racks or wall racks can accomplish the legal requirement of a “bike storage area.”  These displays can cost anywhere from $25.00 per bike to $50.00 per bike. 

Standard floor racks don’t need to be assembled, don’t need to be mounted to any surface and can simply be placed on the ground in a garage or storage room.  There is no maintenance required on these types of racks.  The downside of a basic floor rack is that while providing an area to park a bike, they don’t necessarily save space.  They also are lightweight and easily moved, so if there is someone with sticky fingers, the racks may disappear.  However, if a quick fix is needed, the floor racks may be the way to go simply to be compliant with the laws. 

Wall racks are a popular option as they are inexpensive and get bikes up and out of the way.  There are many different ways to hang bikes on walls.  Most of these options are very inexpensive and easy to install.  They will require mounting to the wall, but this task is easily accomplished with provided hardware and a drill.  Wall racks can be more a permanent solution and give a space the feel of an actual bike storage area, and since the racks are mounted directly to the wall, theft of the racks is unlikely.  These types of racks can also be mounted anywhere you have space: wide hallways, entryways, parking garages or basements.  The versatility of this type of storage method gives the building the ability to provide bike storage without having to dedicate an entire room to the project.  The negative side of this system is that it requires users to physically lift their bikes up into storage.  Older tenants may have a hard time lifting their bikes. 

An increasingly popular method of bike storage is called a Stand Up rack or “Wheel Up.”  In this type of bike storage rack, the user puts the front wheel of their bike up into the rack while the back tire stays on the ground.  Anyone can use this rack, regardless of age or strength, which makes it appealing to buildings that house families or seniors.  This method is also a space saver because it gets the bikes a bit more vertical, conserving aisle space in a bike storage area.  This type of rack is a higher quality bike rack, so the prices can be a little higher.  The prices range from $40 per bike up to $60 per bike. 

Lastly, there are tiered racking options.  Double decker racks provide 2 levels of bikes per rack, maximizing space and really creating a high density bike parking area.  These racks do require a bit more space than the other options, but a building can double its bike storage capacity by using vertical space.  The options on these types of racks are endless.  There are two tier racks that have assisted lift second tier parking, locking loops for bike locks, and adjustments for different types of bikes.  The price on basic models can run about $100 per bike all the way up to $400 per bike on the assisted lift models.  This option should be used when there are many bikes that need to be stored and a dedicated bike parking area being provided. 

Every building’s layout and bike storage needs are different, so using a company that specializes in bike storage can make the process simple and effective.  Bicycle storage does not need to be complicated nor does it need to be a major project.  Have your storage company, such as Bargold Storage, provide a layout, or contact a bike storage company like Rudy Rack to help you through the process. 

Sorting Out Bicycle Storage Laws

An increase in people means a decrease in space.  It also means that everyone in the city is competing for cabs, subway space, bus seats, etc.  Many people find that bike commuting is a more efficient and environmentally-friendly way to travel. 

It seems that NYC agrees.  In 2009, some initiatives were taken to encourage bicycle commuting in the city by looking at the issue of Bike Parking.  The program was called “Let Bikes In” or “The Bikes In Buildings Program.”   

The Bikes in Buildings Program produced a law called The Bicycle Access of Office Buildings Law.  It went in to effect in December of 2009.  It only applies to commercial office buildings that have an existing freight elevator.  If bicycle access is desired, the tenants of the building must file a request with the owner.  The caveat is that individual employees of the tenants cannot file the request.  It must be filed by the employer.

If a request is filed, employers must be able to safely store bicycles within their rented space.  Having a common bike parking area in the building can be a work-around and the building owners can apply for an exception to the law.  Either way, once a request is filed, the building owner needs to provide some sort of bike parking inside the building, whether it is in individual tenant spaces or a common area.  More information on this law can be found at www.nyc.gov/bikesinbuildings

The second law is the Bicycle Parking Text Amendment.   This law requires any new building, or any existing building that is adding more than 50% additional space, to have a designated bike parking area or multiple parking areas, if it isn’t feasible to put all the bikes in one spot.  This law requires 1 parking space for every 2 residential units.  This law also requires 15 square feet for every bicycle parking spot!  There is an exception to this rule.  The square footage per bike can be reduced down to 6 sq. ft. per bike if a more efficient plan is submitted. 

Essentially, bikes and bike commuters are not going away.  The days of chaining up bikes to fences or lampposts are over.  Bike parking is something that needs to be planned and accounted for in new and existing buildings, whether residential or commercial.  Not complying with these new laws will result in inspections and fines, so it’s time to jump on the bike bandwagon. 

No one expects business owners and landlords to be experts in bike storage.  Bikes are big.  Bikes are bulky.  Bikes are NOT easy to store.  Bike owners can be particular and protective of their bikes.  All of these factors can combine to make massive headaches for building owners, architects and condo boards.   The easiest way to handle these concerns is to hire a company that specializes in storage, or more specifically, bike storage.  Believe it or not, these companies do exist. 

There are a few services that bike storage companies can provide to make this bike parking task easier.  A few of the bike storage companies will do free layout drawings of what bike racks will work in the space provided.  Typically, the only thing that is required are a few measurements that any maintenance person or resident of the building can do in about 5 minutes of time.  Once the measurements are taken, layouts can be emailed to building owners or architects very quickly and give a nice visual of what the bike parking area will look like and how many bikes it will store.  By getting a professional layout of the bike parking area, building owners can decrease the square footage requirement per bike from 15 sq. ft. down to 6 sq ft.  That is a substantial difference! 

A common misconception is that bike parking and bike storage is going to cost a lot of money.  Obviously, building owners can go above and beyond and provide individual bike storage lockers for each person, causing the bill to be very high.  However, if the building owner is looking for a cost effective solution, there are options available.  It is even possible to make money off the bike storage and bike parking area!  That’s right….MAKE MONEY. 

There is no requirement in these laws to provide FREE bike parking.  So, let’s say the building has 32 residential units.  A 16 bike Parking Rack (which complies with the requirements) can cost around $1550.00 and take up very little space (about 7 sq. ft. per bike).  If the cost to rent the bike parking space is $5.00 per bike per month, that is an income of $80.00 per month.  The original rack purchase would be paid off in less than 2 years.  After that, it is $80.00 pure profit each month. 

While the bike parking and storage laws can be a hassle, there are companies out there to assist with compliance.  The possibility of making money on the project is also very feasible, which turns the bike parking project from a headache to an exciting prospect. 

Why Should I Add a Bike Storage Room?

Most landlords or board members have heard requests for bike storage rooms from their tenants.   Some board members may not have ridden a bike in over 20 years, and don’t understand the need for an entire room dedicated to bicycle storage.  If you are included in that group, let’s have some bicycle education time and discuss why storage rooms are a good idea.

The first reason most boards don’t think that bikes need a storage room is because many people think that bikes are easily stored.  They are supposed to come with kickstands, right?  Not anymore.  Bike shops no longer mount kickstands on bikes because they are able to charge for kickstands if they don’t come with the bike automatically.  A kickstand will never be found on an expensive road bike or triathlon bike because it would hinder the aerodynamics of the bicycle.  So, over the past 20 years, the kickstand as a built-in storage method is no longer viable. 

The second reason is probably one that building owners have heard from guys and gals wearing head-to-toe spandex outfits and helmets.  A new brand of biker has emerged over the past 20 years.  We now see the “serious biker.”  These people are passionate about biking and will put on many miles at a time on their bikes.  These tenants may own 2 or 3 bikes, each for different types of terrain or weather.  The cost of some of these bikes can cost anywhere from $5000 – $15,000.  This may help explain these passionate riders’ desire to have a nice organized place to store their investments.   Locking up one of these expensive bikes outside will guarantee that it will disappear in less than 30 minutes. 

From a building owner’s perspective, there are many good reasons to set aside some space for a bicycle storage room.  The obvious one is the damage that bicycles cause when being carried through the hallways, up elevators or stairwells and into doors that are too small for the bikes.  Pedals are sharp.  They cause significant damage to paint and woodwork.  Ask any building maintenance employee about the constant paint touch ups that are required.  The majority of them are probably caused by bicycles. 

To throw a wrench in the decision about whether or not to provide a bike room, there is now a law that mandates that a building must allow tenants to take their bikes from the street to their offices in commercial buildings.  Commercial landlords are not immune to the bike storage problem and in fact, are required by law to allow the bikers to carry their bikes through the halls.  So, as a building owner, it would be best to provide the bicycle parking space that everyone has been requesting instead of seeing the hallways and stairwells turn a nice shade of “scratched up.” 

Another reason for a bike room is that being “green” is all the rage these days.  Providing a bicycle storage area can help prospective buyers or renters see your building as environmentally progressive.  Also, if a building is going for its LEED certification, a bike room will net it one point! 

Lastly, the best reason for putting in a bike room or bike storage area is that is can make money!  The tenants want the parking and are usually willing to pay a little to have a safe, secure place to park their bikes.  Bike storage racks are a onetime investment.  If rent is collected on bike parking spots similar to car parking spaces, the money can be made back in a couple years at most.  After that, the rest is pure profit.  This is a win-win situation for all parties.  The bikers get their storage space and the landlord or condo board gets to make some additional money off the project. 

Bike storage rooms do not need to be a difficult project.  There are companies, like Rudy Rack or Bargold Storage, who can assist in the design and installation of the project.  It can be an inexpensive project, using storage racks that are as inexpensive as $25.00 per bike.  Space is a luxury in New York City, but you would be surprised where bicycles can be stored.  Wide hallway?  That works.  Odd sized parking space that no one uses?  You can get 16 bikes in that space.  Sometimes, the key is enlisting help from professionals that do this for a living. 

The next time a man wearing skin tight bike shorts and a neon yellow jersey stops you in the hallway and requests a better spot to store his bicycle, think about the advantages of adding in a bike room instead of the hassle.  Happy tenants equal long term tenants and the possibility of extra income for the board or landlord. 

Why Stack Bikes?

High Density Storage

A common issue when creating a bike room is too many bikes, and not enough room.  By using the vertical space in the room, you can double the amount of bikes that can be stored while keeping the space clean and organized. A standard 8 foot ceiling is all you need to utilize our highest density storage option, the Condo Double Decker.

How does it save space?

A standard bike measures about 2’ wide by 5’ long.  So, to store 16 bikes flat without having them tangled with each other would take up 160 square feet:

By stacking the bikes, Cycle Storage Solutions not only uses vertical space, but we offset the height of each bike allowing them to sit closer together.  The same 16 bikes that take up 160 square feet of floor place only take up 48 square feet on a Condo Double Decker.