bike parking for apartment dwellers


la latina, madrid

Living in small apartments over the years, I’ve learned to be creative with finding places to store my two-wheeled friend. In my last place in Seattle, I put down a deposit as soon as the landlord showed me the shared bike room in the basement. While it wasn’t more than a closet with bikes stacked upon each other, it did mean that I wasn’t lugging my bike upstairs to lock it up on a shared balcony or tripping over it when I got out of bed. Here in Madrid, we’re fortunate to have a small trastero (storage room) in our basement where we can keep our bikes when we’re not touring around.

Other folks aren’t so lucky. In Spain, the 2009 Barómetro Annual de la Bicicleta survey suggests that adequate bike parking is a common concern: over 20 percent of bicyclists surveyed reported a bicycle theft on at least one occasion and over 90 percent agreed that public and private facilities lack bicycle parking. Pablo Leon, who blogs at I love bicis, describes in the post ‘me molestas’ his conflicts with neighbors about bike parking both inside and outside of his apartment building in Madrid.

Bicyclists in other large cities complain about an absence of secure bike parking as well. My brother talked about getting a bike for years, but was deterred by the six flights of stairs (no elevator) and shortage of space in his small, shared apartment in New York City. He finally invested in a folding bike—he still has to haul it up all those stairs, but at least it doesn’t take up so much space once he’s home. Since he got it, he’s been bike commuting regularly and has even been talking about getting studded tires for the winter snow.

In 2009, New York City adopted code amendments requiring new apartment buildings (with 10 units or more) and some renovations of existing apartment buildings to provide secure indoor bicycle parking. While this is a welcome change, what about people like my brother who live in older buildings or other folks who live in other cities that don’t have these requirements? Learn more in the next post…