City ordinance would require businesses to provide bicycle parking

SFSU Bike Barn

Carlos Mendoza locks his bicycle outside of the Humanities Building. By Nelson Estrada

As more San Francisco residents take to their bicycles as their main mode of transportation, there grows a greater need to provide owners secure parking other than a pole on the sidewalk.

New legislation, which will require commercial business owners to either provide secure designated parking or allow riders to bring their bicycles inside, has met been met with little opposition. Business owners have been cooperating with officials to negotiate a plan to ease into a new system.

More secure parking should be provided for the increasing number of bicycle commuters in the city, said San Francisco Bicycle Coalition spokeswoman Kristin Smith. The bill is expected to get its final approval from the Board of Supervisors by this week, she said.

With a 71 percent increase in bicycle riders in the last five years, an estimated 75,000 cyclists take to the streets of San Francisco every day, according to a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Bicycle Count Report. Legislation to accommodate those riders was imminent according to John M. Bozeman, manager of government and public affairs for the Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco.

Bozeman said it was a natural progression for BOMA to align themselves with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition because they have a shared concern to protect the environment and promote healthy living.

“This is a tenant-driven legislation because of the threat of getting your bicycle stolen,” Bozeman said. “There’s always caution when leaving your bicycle outside, but with this new bill it will help ease the tenant’s concerns.”

Bozeman said he bicycles to work when the light permits and he hopes others will soon follow.

“We are super excited about the bill because more employees will look to commute with their bike knowing it can be kept in a safe place,” Smith said. “San Francisco is another step closer to their goal of increasing the percentage of all trips by bike from 3.5 to 20 percent by 2020 and becoming the strongest supporter of bike access in the country.”

SF State student Andrew Fouts currently works at the campus bike barn; he used to work in downtown San Francisco and, although they didn’t provide bicycle parking, they allowed him to store it in an empty office.

“I imagine a lot of people are going to be mad about bicycles taking up space in the workplace, but I think the new law is going to prevent a lot of bicycle thefts,” Fouts said. “It’ll feel good to go into work knowing your bike will be safe.”

Smith said the new bill has received strong support from businesses because commercial office buildings have more tenants commuting with their bicycles and business owners are sure to see a positive impact on employee morale knowing their bicycles are in a secure place.

“The new bill should encourage people to ride their bike in the city,” Bozeman said. “Riding your bicycle is just good all around. It saves the environment and most importantly, it helps you stay healthy.”

Supervisor Carmen Chu was one of two supervisors to vote no on the bicycle access ordinance because she felt it would overwhelm city departments that already have their hands full.

“I feel there is a need for more bicycle parking in San Francisco, but one of my concerns is that enforcing it would take staffers away from other needs in the city such as building inspectors that deal with illegal dwelling units,” Chu said.

Gregory Speck who works at The Popular Workshop, an art studio on Sutter Street, said he’s been biking in San Francisco for six years and he’s happy about the new bill because bicycle theft can happen anywhere.

“For years now I’ve been using about at least three locks on my bike and sometimes a 15 pound chain depending on the neighborhood I’m in,” Speck said. “To most San Franciscans, locking up can be quite an art if we want to protect our investment and our livelihood.”

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