Dear PoPville – Can’t Bring Bikes Through Front Door of my Building, Is This Reasonable?

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Dear PoPville,

For a few years now, the Dorchester House (at 16th and Kalorama) has been undergoing renovations and policy changes. Most recently, the building and it’s management company decided that residents who were entering or exiting the building with their bicycles were required to use only the basement or side entrance and were prohibited from using the main lobby entrance. Their reasoning is that bicycles are allegedly messing up their new carpet (even though many, many more dirty feet come trekking through that lobby).

They have also indicated that anyone caught violating this policy would first receive a written warning, followed by a $200 fine and (on a third offense) eviction.

My question: Is this a legal, “reasonable policy” change and has anyone else ever experienced this type of restriction on residents with bicycles?

67 Comment

  • I don’t think asking people to bring bikes through a different door is unreasonable at all.

    The $200 fine and eviction seems a bit much, though.

  • I think this policy is fair. You cannot tell me you haven’t accidentally scratched paint or dinged a door getting your bicycle inside a building. Move if you don’t like it.

    • Entirely reasonable.

      I moved into this building in 2006. At that time I was told that bikes can only enter through the basement. Although it was never enforced I have stuck with the rule. About time others were forced to join in.

  • It may be annoying and a bit silly, but I am not sure why it would be illegal. This seems like an apartment building and I would think that owners/managers can do what they want when it comes to policies like this.

  • Sounds reasonable to me. It’s not like they’re telling you that you have to use a 3rd story window to get in and out. Just use a different door.

    • Agree. My building just got repainted two days ago, and some jerk managed to scuff every. single. wall. on his way up to his unit. Irritating!

    • totally reasonable and definitely not “illegal”….haha. If they said you can’t bring them into the building that would probably still be legal but would be somewhat unreasonable. If they actually tried to evict you then you might have a case but good luck going to court over a 200 dollar fine.

  • This is not even slightly unreasonable, and the fine is designed to make sure that it’s taken seriously.

    The OP’s complaint reinforces the stereotype in this town of the cyclist: self-centered and entitled.

    This morning a cyclist nearly killed my dog while riding 30 miles an hour ON THE SIDEWALK in Shaw. He wizzed by us out of nowhere and gave us no warning. My dog, as many dogs are prone to do, doesn’t walk down and empty street in a consistently staright line. She stepped a little to the left, right in the path of the cyclist, and he came within a few inches of hitting her. Unbelievable.

    • I don’t doubt that the cyclist may have been traveling fast, and you probably perceived him to be going 30 mph because you were startled, but that type of speed on a sidewalk is pretty uncommon.

      • He was going faster than vehicle traffic on Florida Avenue at 6:30 this morning, just east of Shaw’s Tavern. I was walking two dogs. He had to have seen me, also had to have known I didn’t see him, yet he made no effort to slow down, did nothing to warn me, etc. He just wizzed by me at the precise moment that one of my dogs decided to step a little to the left. Pretty thoughtless and reckless behavior if you ask me.

        • the only time i’ve ever hit 30mph was going down a steep hill. it’s not happening on a sidewalk, let alone on that stretch of sidewalk. he should not however have been on the sidewalk to begin with, and should definitely have slowed down when approaching a pedestrian, especially one with a dog.

          • I commute to work on an older MTB and I easily get up to 20mph on level ground and can average 24mph without too much effort if there’s a slight tailwind. Many years ago I was easily able to maintain 25-30mph on my unloaded road bike (level ground, no tail/head wind). And, when I was a courier riding an MTB, I’d get across town (not DC) averaging 27mph to keep with the timed traffic lights.

            So, 30mph on a sidewalk in the city may be uncommon but could easily be achieved without much of a hill/effort.

          • I should have also added that I agree with you – a cyclist going that fast (perceived to be 30mph) should NOT be on the sidewalk.

          • The exact speed is irrelevant. You could be biking at 5 mph and kill someone’s dog. Or hurt a pedestrian. Just use good judgement when you cycle and assume no one can see or hear you.

    • To be fair, “self centered and entitled” is also my exact stereotype of “Dear Popville” submitters.

  • In what universe would it be illegal? Taking your bicycle thru the front door is not a constitutional right.

    To me the policy seems quite fair, but the punishment seems like more of a deterrent than a realistic threat. Unless there is a doorman or a front desk, I don’t know who would enforce this.

  • Banning bikes from the building would be unreasonable, but if there are two other usable entrances what’s the problem? Their building, their rules.

  • What does your lease say? It is easy to contest any fine not listed or allowed in the lease.

    • This is what I came to say. In your current lease, there is no mention of a ban/fine on bikes thru the front door. So I wouldn’t accept any kind of fine or threat of eviction. When you renew your lease, you might want to look for a new clause that addresses this new policy.

      That being said, the policy isn’t unreasonable, and, personally, I would just follow it.

  • Sounds totally reasonable to me. Just use the back/side door, what’s the problem?

  • Use the back door. Problem solved.


  • The policy seems fair to me. That said, why does the building use carpet in a common area?

  • As a property manager, and a resident of a building, I see both sides. I think the letter was written in a rather poor tone but I digress. If they have carpet in their lobby it makes pretty good sense to not allow bikes on them. Typically the carpet in a lobby is vastly more expensive to the nonsense they put in the apartments. I think the standard bike owner rarely cleans there tires as often as you would your shoes.

    It’s legal even if it is bothersome.

    • I agree with you on the tone. Their communications have been extremely terse lately. We get a few emails each week through the automated system to the effect of, “Just a reminder, we’re suddenly enforcing something that was never enforced before and we’re have no sympathy for the fact that you didn’t know we suddenly require x, y, or z and it adversely affected your day.” This whole issue would have gone over more smoothly if they’d been nicer about implementation, IMO.

    • Bicycle tires are usually only marginally dirtier than the soles of shoes, in large part because shoes are cleaned by frequently walking on carpet.

      • I’m a cyclist. My bike tires are WAY dirtier than my shoes. When I put air in my tires, I get grime on my hands when I touch the wheels. When I put on my shoes, this never happens. LOL.

        Most cyclists ride in the street, which has everything in it (that weird liquid that comes out the back of trash trucks, leaking oil, etc). Bike tires are definitely dirtier than shoes…

  • I live in the building and I don’t have a bike, but this doesn’t seem out of line to me. If you’re on a bike you can easily ride the extra half block to the other door, and you have to take the elevator anyway so that part shouldn’t be a problem. Yes, the hallway from the basement door to the elevator is insanely long, but it’s the same length as the one from the front door, only it’s linoleum. If you want to get your mail, use the side door and you’ll roll in right near the mail room and elevators.

    To me the penalties say we’re serious about enforcing this, and we want you to know that right away, as opposed to what I was told about some other building policies (like technically a certain % of your floor is supposed to be covered with carpet to reduce noise but they don’t enforce that at all).

    In general, I just really appreciate what they’re doing to update the building and keep it nice.

  • I’m piling on here: this is totally reasonable (buildings spend a lot on the upkeep of their main lobby/front entrance, if for no other reason than it’s one of their first selling points to prospective tenants/buyers, and bikes tend to ding/dirty/dent the walls and floors over and by which they are rolled or carried. Plus, you still have the basement or side doors to accommodate your bike.). Why do people always throw in whether it’s legal?? Is it bc you don’t want to say what you already know: that it’s a reasonable rule, but you’d really rather not have to adjust your personal activity to comply and would prefer to threaten legal action rather than just abiding by the rule?

  • It seems reasonable. Whether they can lawfully evict for violating this policy is another question entirely.

  • My building (Boston House) has the same rule, even though there isn’t any carpet in the entrance (also, no fine is imposed to my knowledge). It applies to bikes and any large furniture or extremely oversized boxes. Yes, it’s frustrating and a bit annoying, but it definitely isn’t illegal to require people to use an alternate entrance for these items. It keeps the front entrance looking nice.

  • Seems totally reasonable and a sensible policy to me.
    Question to OP – do you not feel safe using the other entrances? If so then the managment should do all that they can to make those entrances as safe to use as the front door.
    Could be worse – you could have valet garbage service.

  • It’s no more nerve racking than to have to use a freight elevator. The only other solution is to have to carry the bicycles while crossing the lobby area floor. I would think that foot-traffic would be more damaging but who knows. What does the wheelchair bound resident do? Wheels are wheels aren’t they?

    • This policy applies to guests as well. Defeating the purpose of the concierge for residents with friends who have bikes. So that amenity is wasted on you.

      I agree that carrying a bike through the lobby should be a good middle ground.

      I won’t go so far to say wheel chairs should have the same rules as those people may have not had a choice to use their wheeled device.

      However those pushy grocery carts should count as should strollers.

      • Is the concierge supposed to carry the bike up for your guest?

        • ah

          I think the point is that a guest can’t come in the front door if s/he biked there and be asked to let up to a resident’s room, and I would guess the rear door is locked.

    • I don’t think the issue of the bikes is the carpeting as much as the handlebars scraping the walls, which is not really an issue with wheelchair-bound people. I also would imagine the bike to wheelchair ratio is fairly large. Still, your logic could be applied to absurdity. Service animals are allowed in Metro, for instance. By your logic, that means all pets should be welcome to Metro, after all, an animal is an animal, right? There’s often a good reason for exceptions to rules.

    • Wheel chair users would likely not be using the front entrance, since there are several stairs in the front area. The side entrance has a ramp, so it’s easier for anyone riding/pushing anything.

      • I’m not familiar with the interior of Dorchester House, but if there are steps leading to or within the lobby, as is the case in many Wardman buildings, then no, wheelchair users are not an issue in your lobby. If there were no steps for the lobby to be a logistical possibility, wheelchair users have the same rights as walking pedestrians, as another poster has pointed out, we don’t exactly have the same choices as bicycle users, and to many of us, the wheelie-man-sign pointing to the back door smacks of Jim Crow. It is true that we can be harder on the woodwork and finishes than walking pedestrians, and track in stuff on our tires. [Just try to get doggy-do out of the tire treads of a wheelchair you are also using.] A well-designed accessible entrance will have outdoor textured rugs or areas for doing the wheelchair-tire equivalent of wiping your feet.

        Thank you, though, for using the term ‘wheelchair users’ instead of ‘wheelchair bound.’ ‘User’ gives the emphasis on the active person, not the condition or limitation. ‘Bound’ isn’t even accurate, except I suppose in fetish situations. I am liberated by my wheelchair, not ‘confined’ or ‘bound’ by her; without the wheelchair, I would be confined to bed.

  • My building, a co-op, also has a “no bikes or pets through the main lobby door” rule. It is totally reasonable. In our case, it isn’t about the carpets (we have terrazzo and mosaic tile), it’s about cumbersome things that might get in the way of other people’s easy, safe egress through a very-busy doorway. We have multiple side entrances where coming and going with bikes and pets are fine, so not allowing these things through the main entrance is not a hardship. I don’t think we’ve established a fine for breaking this rule. The all-seeing front desk staff and the resident busybodies will surely lecture you though!

  • Seems fair provided that all strollers, wheeled grocery carts, etc. also have same restrictions. Otherwise, no.

  • Despite numerous residents riding bicycles, and a number of unused areas in the basement, the building still thinks it’s reasonable to disallow bicycles at the front door and not provide bicycle parking for all residents. There is a long waiting list to get a bicycle parking space.

    Further, the building announced last week that it was not allowing residents to park cars behind the building. The site is slated to become another yuppie condo project.

    To sum: The building has suddenly decided to crap on residents by: 1. making commuting by bicycle that much more of a hassle 2. removing residential automobile parking 3. forcing residents to endure months of construction which will ultimately lead to obstructed views.

    • So, move. Life is too short.

    • Resident–
      Unless you own the vacant property next door, how can you feel entitled to restrict the site from becoming “another yuppie condo project” and really–so there should never be any construction ever again in this city because it may force residents to “endure months of construction which will ultimately lead to obstructed views.” Do you own the view? Is it my responsibility as another city resident to ensure that your view is not obstructed? Maybe you can move into one of those “yuppie” condos when it is complete and have that view again–but then wouldn’t you be culpable in the whole making others “endure months of construction?” I wonder how many neighbors to your building had to “endure months of construction which will ultimately lead to obstructed views” when your building was constructed. Get a grip. This is a city.

      • +100. Besides, I just checked this place out on line — the lobby looks nice and the rents are pretty reasonable. Quit whining, would ya? Geez.

    • This building has the most self-entitled, delusional residents I’ve ever heard of. At an ANC meeting a 5-6 years ago some developers came with a plan for the old Italian Embassy. At time time the project was allowed by zoning and the property it hadn’t yet been designated as historic. More than one Dorchester House resident stated that the Italian Embassy people allowed them to park for free on weekends and demanded to know if the developers were going to continue that. The developer stated that they had no intention of allowing nonresidents to park there, and the Dorchester House residents started to whine, moan, etc. and stated that they’d oppose the project. Similar behavior took place in meetings regarding Harris Teeter.

      And now we have someone who’s blaming their landlord for construction next door. Oh no! We don’t get to park for free in the alley any more! This aggression will not stand, man!

      Learn what you’re actually entitled to and you might be a little less outraged.

  • This is the policy in my condo building. It was the rule when I moved in and it has never bothered me. They also cite the flooring as the reason.

    This reminds me, though, of someone who told me residents aren’t allowed in the lobby in their gym clothes (!), presumably so other residents don’t have to see anybody sweaty. Now THAT is outrageous, I think.

  • Seems totally reasonable. If you just spent tens of thousands on a lobby renovation and were responsible for its upkeep, you would initiate the same policy in heartbeat. Many people are not conscious, or simply don’t care, when they damage property. I think the majority of the tenants will appreciate a clean lobby, rather than dings, scratches, dirt and scuff marks that always appear on everything when people are moving bikes through an area.

  • The policy isn’t completely unreasonable. However, the fine and the eviction is absurd.

    The fine may not even be legal.

    The eviction is illegal.

  • My building has the same rule and extends it to no furniture/contractors/building materials through the front door. I think it reasonable as there are several other ways in (some like the loading dock are even easier). Keeps the lobby cleaner and if I’m not using my bike I don’t have to deal with other people and cumbersome objects when trying to enter/exit the building. Strollers and wheelchairs are exempt from this rule.

  • When entering a building with nice floors, people tend to wipe their muddy/wet feet the best they can. You don’t often see people cleaning off the wheels of their bikes before entering, though.

  • My experience is that this isn’t about dirty carpets, but instead about the perception of a building with bikes coming through the front door. A number of condo buildings have banned bikes through the front entrance because they want to preserve a certain aesthetic they think they’ll get by disallowing bikes. I’m sure there’ll be no attempt to ban laundry/grocery carts.

  • The policy doesn’t seem unreasonable–I live in a building with a similar policy and don’t find that using the back door to be any trouble. The penalty of eviction on the third strike, however, is pretty insane and likely not at all enforceable.

    • Unless it’s in the lease, or unless the lease specifically incorporates by reference *reasonable* rules that could be made later, you’re right. But it’s probably academic. The 30-day cure-or-quit notice gives the resident 30 days to stop doing whatever he or she is doing. Once the rule breaking has stopped, there’s no longer cause for eviction. So all the resident has to do is just not bring the bike through the front doors for the next 30 days. The landlord has the burden of proof here.

      That said, there are habitual offender cases that can’t be cured, even though it’s a cure-or-quit notice. In those cases, the landlord has to prove persistent, serious rule violations.

      • former lawyer is completely right. “reasonable” is irrelevant, unless provided for in your lease. see what it says about changes to building rules and additional fees/fines. the eviction thing is goofy. they simply cannot, under DC law, evict you solely for bringing a bike through the front door three times, unless that rule is incorporated into your lease (by reference, presumably) and then all the obligations vis-a-vis eviction kick in, like the notice to cure requirement.

  • Doesn’t seem like an unreasonable policy, but maybe the tone of the email was a little snappy? My apt management company can get a little snarky with the recycling room notices on occasion. If it really sticks in your craw, perhaps consider moving?

  • What is the problem… use one of the two other entrances they have designated.

    Thinks for a moment, maybe your neighbor thinks its resonable to pull him motorcycle in through the front door.

    Kind of silly righ? Don’t be an entitled cry baby – play by the house rules..

  • D-House resident here. The policy was *always* that you had to enter through the back door (Kalorama Road) with a bike. I asked when I moved in 6 years ago. They told me it was so the cleaners didn’t have to clean up the carpets after us, which seemed reasonable to me. OK, they didn’t enforce it much, but that was the rule. So they’ve actually made it *less* restrictive by allowing us to use the Euclid Street side door. I am happy about this.

    Seriously, if this is enough to annoy you, you are going to struggle living in the D-House. I was more annoyed when the management company randomly kicked out Napoleon from the basement, painted the entire basement mustard yellow, installed hu-uge a/c units that intrude substantially on the rooms, forced us to pay our own electric and ripped out the original doors with the art deco keyholes. But I understand that the plan long-term is to prevent a historic building decaying into a ghetto.

    • Who (or what?) is Napoleon?

      • Napoleon was the guy from the Dorchester Market, the bodega store that used to operate in the basement of the Dorchester House. He waged a one-man vendetta against the Harris Teeter opening up next door, standing around all hours of the day with signs protesting it. Pretty soon after, the management terminated the lease of the bodega store, apparently for no reason. It was too bad, because it was handy for milk or whatever. But now we had a Harris Teeter next door. There used to be a bunch of weird stores in the basement, including a DVD store etc but they’re all gone now.

  • It seems reasonable to ban bikes, deliveries, contractors, loading/unloading more than you can hold in 2 hands, etc from the main entrance. There are alternative doors to use. You aren’t the only one who lives there and your neighbors probably dont want the lobby and main door to be used as, or perceived as, a service door.

    Take your cumbersome bikes somewhere else. Stop expecting everyone else to accommodate your life choices.

  • totally fair. if you don’t agree, move.

  • thebear

    My building attempted to ban bicycles from the elevators and lobby, and require bikes to be stored in the garage, using only the garage door for ingress and egress. The tenant association got them to back down because in our case: 1) It would have required the building to provide rack space for every bicycle (out of 250 units, easily at least 1/3 that number if not greater). 2) Required all bicycle owners to have access to the garage. 3) As there is no outside access other than the single garage door, it would have placed considerable wear and tear on the door. It would have also presented a security risk as the entire door has to open, potentially allowing unauthorized persons into the garage.

    If there is an alternative that does not unduly inconvenience residents or present a safety or security risk to residents, then the management is not unreasonable to restrict bicycle access. The “fine” and threat of eviction are unreasonable. (And, eviction would be exceedingly difficult to obtain for such an infraction…otherwise there would be an astronomical decline in complaints about unruly parties and other conduct that violates leases and community rules.)

  • I would say treat this memo like you would a stop sign or red traffic signal, and do whatever you feel like.

  • yes, it is fair. i have experienced this type of restriction in most residential buildings i’ve lived in or visited all of my life.

  • My building has the same rules because people were seriously scratching the paint around to doors.

    It is a totally reasonable rule. Get over your sense of entitlement and get upset about something really important.

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