Folding bike fail

By Felix Salmon
June 15, 2009

My fingers weren’t crossed hard enough. I did end up buying a folding bike this weekend — a Montague DX — and proudly carried it, folded in half, into 3 Times Square this morning, after having been told by a security guard that folding bikes were OK to bring in to the office. Except, it turns out, they’re not. The only way you’re allowed to bring a folding bike into the building, it turns out, is if it’s packed up into a bag. Otherwise, no dice.

I suppose my next hope is that NYC’s bike-friendly new transportation commissioner will install some permanent bike parking in the acreage of Times Square she recently pedestrianized. But I’m not holding my breath. In any case, I hope my bike shop accepts returns. They did say they would, but I’ve just learned how much I can trust verbal promises.

Update: I just popped down to check on it — I realized I’d left the quick-release seatpost open to easy theft when I chained the bike up outside. The back tire’s completely deflated. As am I.

Comments
27 comments so far

Why not bring a big duffel bag to put it in when you’re not riding it?

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

There are several parking garages in midtown that have bike racks. Iirc (from TA e-mailings), they do charge $2 a day or something like that–basically, the subway fare you saved by riding–but there should be one near you.

But, of course, you wouldn’t need a folding bike to use them.

Doh. Time to become a hipster and build a fixed-gear bike and cover it w/ duct tape. There’s even a place in Alphabet City where you can get one for cheap.

Well, honestly I think the first mistake you made was that you ASKED about the policy. It’s been my experience that if you work someplace and act like you know what you are doing and casually walk by the guards won’t question it. Then again I work in DC. Maybe your building or (NY generally) has guards that are well attuned to the building policies…

Posted by chappy | Report as abusive

Uhh…

How did this guy get to write on Reuters – about a FOLDING bicycle. Give me peace!

How about a wallet made from foreskins that changes into a suitcase after stroking it? Now THAT I want to read about.

Is this what happens when a good Managing Editor is not employed?

DG

There is a carry case available for your bike: http://www.montagueco.com/bikes/accessor ies.html

Posted by Dav | Report as abusive

Why would you want to ride a bike to work, or better yet, why would you want to work in NYC? Crazy.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

Why would you ride a bike to work, or better yet, why would you work in NYC? Crazy.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

NYC is still a little behind in bicycle saturation. If the trend continues, soon we might see a problem that exists in many bike-friendly Asian countries where the opposite problem exists: the trash problem from the sheer amount of abandoned, cheap bicycles. Some people don’t even lock their bicycles up anymore there’s always more kind of lying around.

Its just a matter of time.

Posted by Kinkistyle | Report as abusive

Shudda bot a Chrysler, dude.

Posted by otto | Report as abusive

Another point in Dahon’s favor: They make a very nice nylon carrying bag which allows you to sling it over your shoulder.

Posted by Herb | Report as abusive

Another point in Dahon’s favor is that they make a nylon carrying bag which can be folded up when you’re riding.

Posted by Herb | Report as abusive

What’s up with those rules anyway? I’ve never understood the prevalence of anti-bike storage rules. They are EVERYWHERE, even in apartments I’ve had. They claim it’s a fire hazard but I think it has more to do with muddy tires and other aesthetic concerns. How many people have ever died in a fire because they tripped over a bicycle? Aren’t there any number of other wheeled conveyances in your typical office (carts, dolleys, etc)?

Posted by mattmc | Report as abusive

bicycles have systemic risk
four wheels good, two wheels bad

Posted by q | Report as abusive

Felix:
In Japan (where I commute by bicycle in Tokyo) you cannot take a bike on the train unless it is in a bag — bike shops sell lightweight nylon bags that you can roll up and store in a water bottle holder on a road bike frame. If you had one of those (or something like it–get someone with a sewing machine and some material to make you one out of two pieces of nylon, with a draw string), it would take you about 5 seconds to slip your folding bike in or out. Or you could just buy some extra large trash bags. Don’t give up!
Best,
David L.

Posted by DavidL | Report as abusive

pedal without a cause

Posted by q | Report as abusive

Unless you really don’t like the DX for some reason, just plunk down $100 for the Montague carry bag. The bag is well designed with an internal pocket for the front wheel. Also, the shoulder strap for the bag attaches to the bike, preventing the bike’s weight from tearing a hole in the bottom of the bag.

That’s right Mr Salmon – what a great citizen you must be, complying with the way it is as imposed by the thoughtless some time ago.

Good that you ridicule the thoughtless here and suggest there should be change.

But hej I’ve found you’ve just got to do it!

Ride into the lift, have facilities management move that filing system from behind your desk and make way for your bike!
$2 parking down the road is not good enough – it should be in your basement, free. And there ought to be showers etc. for you to use in the building if you ride that far. Canvas everyone, make sure your business and others in the building make it a tenancy condition next round – this market is a great time to get those changes enforced by building owners as they beg for you to stay on.

And for your safety, ride in the middle of the road, drivers side – be seen, be predictable & dominate the situation.

Posted by Rollo | Report as abusive

too bad about the flat. i’ve had zero flats with tires that have kevlar in them. they will cost you –probably $30 each– but i haven’t had a flat in 10 years. hopefully they make them for your bike’s wheel size.

Posted by timothy gardner | Report as abusive

Felix,

stay with it. before you know it, you will love commuting on your bike. you cannot replace the independent and liberating feeling that bicycle commuting gives you.

for extra help, maps and tips, check this site out:
http://www.nycbikemaps.com/

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

I was astonished to learn that I couldn’t bring my bike into a NYC building, on a Saturday no less. That was over 10 years ago. I would have hoped that had changed. I do know there are some bike friendly buildings, but NYC needs to do more.

Posted by John Kuhn | Report as abusive

Felix,

you can call 311 in NYC and ask for a Bike Rack requisition form. They email you a form and you fax it in. You can then follow up and see if they put in the bike rack. My guess is if enough people petition then a bike rack gets put in. Sounds like a good google mash-up and populist tool is needed to vote for these things.

hopefully, this will be rectified by the passage of the bikes in buildings bill, which should occur any day now.

This incident is almost certainly about appearances. I used to work in a prime historic building in SoHo and right inside the entrance was a sign forbidding bicycles, skateboards, and scooters. I always bagged my folding bike before going indoors and taking it on the elevator. I am certain the security guards knew exactly what was in the bag (and I always made a point of being on a first-name basis with them) but because the bicycle was not visible, they could always claim ignorance if challenged by their bosses.

While waiting more enlightened practices, Felix, bag your bike. It’s a little more hassle, but at least you’ll have gotten your bike into the building (and into a secure space), which is more than most bike commuters in New York can do at the present moment.

My husband and I both have Montague DX bikes. They are great bikes and fold up so we can fit them in the trunk of his Honda. When we need trunk space, both bikes will fit in the back of a closet in our apartment. Find me another full size bike that can do that! I don’t think you should return your bike because one security guard gave you his opinion on what the rules are. You set yourself up for failure. Try putting it in a bag, and you’ll likely have no problem. Oh, and next time you are going to jaywalk across the street, don’t flag down a police man and tell him what you are about to do. Duh.

Posted by Carol | Report as abusive

for extra help, maps and tips, check this site out:
http://www.folding-electric-bicycle.com/

Posted by sdfdf | Report as abusive

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