NYC cyclists bike into buildings

Bicycle commuters make their way across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City.

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KAI RYSSDAL: I don't know if it's $3 gas or just wanting to get out of the car and get some exercise, but biking to work is as popular now as it's ever been. And a lot of cities are trying to accommodate the two-wheelers. Washington D.C. has a brand new Bicycle Transit Center where you can lock your wheels, change your clothes, even fix a flat tire. In Portland, Ore. they're taking away car parking spaces and giving them to bike riders. And today in New York City, a new law lets people bring their bikes into office buildings.

They may be inside, but Andrea Bernstein reports now from WNYC, some cyclists will still be left out in the cold.


Andrew Bernstein: To celebrate the new law, a group of real-estate developers recently threw a party at a new office building in Lower Manhattan.

The last few years have been a party for New York bike commuters. The city has added hundreds of miles of bike lanes, and bike commuting has jumped about 60 percent since 2006.

Attorney Steve Vaccaro even got a green light from his midtown law firm to bring his bike into the office. But the owners of the building said: no dice. Vaccaro had to keep his bike outside.

Steve Vaccaro: I've lost a number of bikes. I've had the rear skewer stolen from my wheel; I actually had my brake pads stolen once.

Under the new law, buildings have to allow bikes inside common areas and freight elevators. John Cinosky manages several large buildings. He says requiring bike access wasn't too popular in his industry -- at first.

John Cinosky: Because it's just something added that we have to do and it was all being negotiated in a down market and, just -- we didn't need it.

In between bites of a canape, Cinosky says now that the law is here, he plans to use it to his advantage.

Cinosky: Ultimately this will be helpful, because it will be something else we can offer tenants and hopefully fill up some of our empty space.

Over in Brooklyn, cyclist Amy Cohen says she was excited when the law passed in October.

Amy Cohen: I thought it meant automatically that 60 days later I could bring in my now new bike.

But there's a catch. Building managers have to allow bikes to pass through common areas. But employers don't have to allow those bikes into the offices they lease.

Cohen: I work for a nonprofit and there is not a lot of space and they've just decided that people can't do that. And I have several colleagues who would have biked to work if that had been possible, so it's very frustrating.

Back at the party to celebrate the law New York City Councilmember David Yassky, acknowledges its not perfect.

David Yassky: Progress is one step at a time. This is a really big step forward.

Or maybe, a giant turn of the wheel.

In New York, I'm Andrea Bernstein for Marketplace.

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