“Banning bikes from the lobby and front doors is a common occurrence in buildings in the area. I was hoping to fact check this.”

bikes no bikes

“Dear PoPville,

My condo board is proposing a resolution where bikes would be banned from entering through the front doors and going through the lobby to the elevators. This would not be a problem except that our building is laid out such that the only other access we would have to the elevators is through the loading dock in an alley (and that provides access to only one elevator that can be locked by management), and through the garage. Below are the suggestions to exit and enter the building with a bike:

1. Loading dock
2. Garage
3. North stairwell
4. South stairwell
5. Retail elevator (between breezeway and garage)

We also know that you can’t always call the middle elevator in order to exit the building via the loading dock area. In this case, you can take either side elevator to G1 and exit out of the garage. If you are uncomfortable biking or walking up or down the garage ramp, you can always use the retail elevator to travel with your bike between G1 and the breezeway.

The management and Board has stated that banning bikes from the lobby and front doors is a common occurrence in buildings in the area. I was hoping to fact check this. Can we get a dialogue going about how often this occurs?”

62 Comment

  • Our 17-unit building doesn’t allow bikes in the residential areas of the building. We have a street-level garage that has bike racks inside, so access isn’t a problem for us. Some people still bring their bikes in and you can usually tell b/c the walls get scuffed up, especially in the stairwell.

    • Does this mean people can’t bring their bikes into their units? I’d be worried about theft as my building’s “secure” garage seems to be a bike shop for thieves.

      • Correct. But people sometimes bring them into their units anyway. Our bike racks have the loops that let you lock bikes to them, so I always lock mine when it isn’t in use.

        • That is an outrageous rule. You can’t bring your own property into your unit?!

          • Well you can’t bring your car in, either. There are differences in expectation, sure, but your wording didn’t cover them.

          • It’s not outrageous to me. When you buy a condo or sign a lease, you are agreeing to the governing documents for that building, which can include restrictions on what you can and cannot do in your unit. Some condos have pet breed/size restrictions, some don’t allow bikes in the residential areas, some don’t allow smoking, some don’t allow signs in windows, etc. If a particular rule is outrageous to you, you should not purchase or lease in a building that has the rule(s) that offend you.

          • Who said you can’t bring your property into the unit?

          • Ah, I thought this was referencing OP, not the comment above. Still, as pointed out, you can’t necessarily bring anything you own into your unit (pitbull, hot tub, waterbed, etc.)

          • HaileUnlikely

            “If a particular rule is outrageous to you, you should not purchase or lease in a building that has the rule(s) that offend you.”
            I agree with this as far as it goes, but note that the board at the OP’s condo community proposes to implement this rule in the *future,* not in the past. Provided that the OP has already bought is or her unit, which seems to be the case seeing as the OP refers to the condo board as “my condo board,” it sounds like the OP did not buy a condo with such a rule. He or she bought a condo without such a rule. Then the board proposed to implement the rule at some point after OP bought.
            P.S. I agree with you that it is legitimate for the condo board to implement such a rule (without comment on how I feel about the substance of the rule – that’s irrelevant). I’m just saying that the OP evidently did not do what you are telling the OP not to do. Duh.

    • This is so descriptive of my building that I suspect tj and I live in the same building. It actually does’t feel all that outrageous. The bike racks are nice, they lock, if you live on an upper floor you don’t have to lug your bike up and down stairs (no elevator in building), and they keep the walls (and stairwell ceilings) from being totally scuffed up.

      • Are thefts not a problem? My bikes would cost thousands to replace without taking into account upgrades and components. I have insurance but the premiums would obviously be raised if I was constantly reporting stolen bikes. And it also prevents people from using bicycles on their trainers.

      • For the theft issue:
        1. The bike racks can be used with a lock (standard U lock/chain
        2. The garage is only accessible with a garage door opener–basically just the occupants of the building (only 17 units).
        3. No thefts in recent years (biggest problem was trying to figure out how to unlock bikes abandoned by previous residents!
        For the convenience issue:
        1. Since it’s not an elevator building, it is actually much more convenient for the majority of people (your average bike commuter or leisure rider) to keep their bikes at street level. Lots of people keep strollers locked to the bike rack as well.
        2. It’s a small building and everyone knows each other. If someone were such a serious biker that they wanted to use a trainer on a regular basis, I’m sure no one would give them a hard time as long as they were careful about damaging the walls and ceilings when they brought their bike in and out of the building. When you’re stuck in close proximity to other people, you need to be neighborly.
        3. If the rule becomes more of a burden than a benefit for the majority of people, a change can be proposed at the annual condo association meeting.

        • I lived in what was considered an “upscale luxury” apartment building in DC and we had a bike storage area in the garage that was only accessible to residents…bikes were stolen all the time. I started keeping my bike in my apartment because they discouraged (not banned) residents from locking them up to the poles in front of the building.

    • I stopped a ban on bikes coming in the front door by asking that this ban also be put on dogs since they generate about the same amount of negative impact. Wear and tear is normal.

  • What’s the garage like? Get them to install some good bike parking (real u-racks, not middle school crap) in there that people will actually use.

  • My 36-unit building has no restrictions on bikes other than that you can’t store them in the common areas or lock them to the front stairwell/railing. We installed a bike rack in the back of our property for owners to use at their own risk.

    • This was my old (45 unit) building’s policy too. People would regularly bring bikes in through the lobby and keep them in their units; it was no big deal…

  • This is pretty common. We have the same rules in the building I live in and also the office building I work in for that matter.

  • My condo bans them, as does my office building. I think it makes sense especially if there’s an adequate place in the garage to keep/lock them. They were scuffing up the walls and tracking mud, etc.

  • Same rules my in condo building in Dupont Circle. Can’t bring bikes through the main entrance and can only use the back freight elevator or stairs.

  • My condo building (100+ units) does not allow bikes in the front door, but has handicapped accessible basement access from the side door. We can access all elevators from the basement as well as (paid) bike storage and (unpaid) overcrowded bike racks. Unsure what is in the bylaws. For us, basement access is easier due to the automatic doors for the handicapped entrance as well as lack of stairs.

  • Our co-op building has this rule. People can bring bikes into the building through the rear entrance into the basement which is accessible from the alley.

  • Not the OP but live in the same building: the bike racks are the standard U shape. Bike thefts have regularly occurred as the garage also serves commercial tenants and people can slip into the residential side. The racks are littered with leftover bike parts from thefts. Cameras have recorded several thefts but they happen so fast that the thieves are gone before the police get there. My storage unit has been broken into several times.

    • Had a similar experience in a different, but similar sounding building. A serious bike racer with $$$ bikes lobbied hard and got the rule changed.

      • p.s. now that I think back, I think he made them concerned about liability/insurance claims if these $$$ bikes got stolen.

  • I’be lived in 3 different condo buildings in DC (as both a renter and an owner). The rules were:
    Building 1: you can bring your bikes in through any door, but may not have any bikes in the elevators
    Building 2: bikes only through back door/garage and only on freight elevator
    Building 3: bikes must be stored in street-level garage and cannot be in any other common space in the building

  • That’s outrageous. Someone said you’re not allowed to store your bike in your own unit as well? There’s no way I’d obey that fake rule. As far as bringing the bike through the lobby not being allowed? It’s stupid. Rules for the sake of rules.

  • My building has no problem with people bringing bikes through the lobby and into the elevators, as long as they’re just passing through and being stored in the garage or apartments and not in common spaces.

  • maxwell smart

    I’m sorry, but if you are going to ban bikes, then you also need to ban strollers, dogs, and any other large, potentially dirty item from entering the building. Strollers especially are often larger than a bicycle. I don’t care how “secure” the bike parking in the garage is – I’m not locking up a several thousand dollar irreplaceable bike in an area where theft is going to happen, regardless of how secure said garage claims to be. What do you do when your tires need air, brakes adjusted, etc? Haul everything down to the garage, do your repair, haul it back upstairs, go back downstairs to get bike… Nope.

    • HaileUnlikely

      What’s funny about owning a condo is, sure they can. I happen to agree with your rationale, but it’s correctness is irrelevant. All that matters is whether the proportion of fellow owners specified in the condo board’s bylaws agree to the rule. If they do, that blows, but that’s the rule. (Condo living ain’t for everyone, self included.)

  • Can’t believe that someone wouldn’t be allowed to carry a bike up to their unit. It’s one thing to leave an inexpensive commuter bike locked up in a common garage area, but no way am I leaving an expensive carbon fiber road bike down there. And where are you supposed to make adjustments, clean the drivetrain, and swap out components other than in your own unit, where you might have a workstand and tools? I guess I wouldn’t live in a building like that, and if they tried to implement such rules in my building, I’d move out.

    • HaileUnlikely

      I agree that it’s a dumb rule, but this rationale is about as compelling to a normal person as a Maserati owner complaining about his building’s garage not being suitable for his Maserati.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Meant to post this above in response to Maxwell in reference to the several-thousand-dollar irreplaceable bike. It sort of fits here, but really meant to post it above.

      • I don’t think this is a very apt comparison. Bikes costing a few thousand dollars are not all that uncommon. Someone with a serious weekend hobby (as opposed to a commuter) might easily have one (or two). And bikes are much more easily stolen and resold, which is the issue with keeping them in a garage. Nor is desiring to bring a bike into ones unit particularly equivalent to…whatever it is that would make a garage suitable for a Maserati.

        • HaileUnlikely

          I’m trying to help you frame your argument to the condo board, not win an internet argument. How you feel about whether my analogy is apt is irrelevant. If your goal is to persuade the condo board to let you bring a bike in the building, my hunch is that the condo board does not have bunch of like-minded weekend hobbiests and competitive cyclists with a bunch of $X,000 bikes on it. What I mean is simply that the average person has no ability to identify with the “problem” of having a $3000 “irreplaceable” bicycle that is too special to put in the same place where the commoners put their normal bicycles. I realize that from a logistical standpoint, it is easier to steal and resell a bicycle than a car. I just mean that, starting from the position of an unsympathetic condo board, if your goal is to bring them around to your side, I’m not sure trying to impel them to empathize with the plight of the man with the irreplaceable $3,000 bicycle is the most effective way to get there.

          • HaileUnlikely


          • I’m not trying to win a fight to a condo board. I live in a single family home and own a ten-year-old off the rack hybred. Just saying your anaolgy isn’t apt.

          • Also, I’d like to add that this whole “helping me frame an argument” I’m not even making is rather condescending.
            I get from your comments that you don’t know how expensive bikes can be. But if I lived in a condo, was on a board, and this became an issue, I’d like to think I’d be open to hearing someone explain to me the issue. It’s not crazy for someone to explain that this is their hobby/thing. That they are seriously into road cycling or triathlons or whatever, and this is the cost of a competitive bike. It is not crazy or weird for someone to drop a few grand into their main hobby (esp. as a bike should last a few years). Fwiw, my hobbies are backpacking, art collection, running, and tbh eating/drinking out. I understand that other people might not spend on these what I have, and that’s okay. They might buy a bike or whatever.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I follow. None of that is the point though. It doesn’t matter how expensive a bike can theoretically be any more than it matters how expensive a car can theoretically be. What matters is how you will persuade the condo board. “I have this precious toy that I need a special accommodation for” won’t persuade the condo board. Want to persuade the condo board? See intelligent input by JoDa.

          • HaileUnlikely

            And again, I don’t mean “you” as in you, Anonymous at 9:35 PM, personally. I just mean that this isn’t between you and me. It’s between some bicyclists and their condo board. “I own an expensive X and thus deserve a special accommodation” is no more persuasive than “I own an expensive Y and thus deserve a special accommodation.” To any normal person who isn’t a bike enthusiast and is stuck with the thankless unpaid job of running a condo board, a $10000 bike may as well be a Maserati. There is no point in trying to convince them otherwise. You are right, but will still lose. It is not a saleable argument. That’s my only point here.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Final comment from me on this: The thought process goes sort of like “You mean you want me the whole condo association to put up with those 10 [email protected] dinging up the walls with their Wal-Mart bikes just because you have a bike that costs as much as my car?” (I still think the rule is dumb, but I can’t see this argument going anywhere unless the president of the condo board happens to share your hobby, and importantly, isn’t sharing your hobby with a bike a tenth the price of yours.)

          • Yikes.

      • I would liken this more to someone buying in a particular building because they could store their Maserati in a secure, individual garage that only they had a key to. Then, someone decides that those garages can only be used to store household goods and all cars must be parked in unsecured open spaces. They made a decision to buy in a building that met their needs, then the building changed the policies such that the building no longer meets their needs. *Can* the Board go ahead with the change? Well, sure. *Should* they is a better question, and, given how often bikes grow legs and walk away on their own in this city, it’s a major issue for a chunk of residents (even people who don’t ride often frequently own bikes around these parts…and even losing the cheap bike you use a couple times a week to run short errands is an inconvenience you shouldn’t suffer because someone changed a rule on you without warning).
        That said, OP seems to indicate that bikes can still be stored in units, but they have to enter through alternative entrances. Unless there is a severe safety issue with those entrances, I don’t think you have much of a case to lobby for. By all means express your concerns to other residents, and if there are others opposed, get organized. But I wouldn’t expect this to be a case where, when you tell your neighbors you don’t want to ride through the alley/breezeway, most will say “yeah, people are going to {suffer significant loss or risk} because of this change, we need to stop it!”

        • HaileUnlikely

          I agree with your second paragraph. I don’t really disagree with your first, either. I just meant that from a strategic standpoint, a condo board that want so implement this rule is unlikely to empathize with the guy with the irreplaceable $3000 bike.

          • If I were arguing against this, I’d make 2 points:
            (1) a garage full of bikes, expensive or not, are an attractive nuisance. If you don’t want to get mugged because you walked into the garage while someone was in the process of stealing a bike, then perhaps this rule isn’t in *your* best interest, either. There is ample evidence that bikes stored in our garage are stolen regularly, which means the more bikes down there, the more criminals entering our property.
            (2) what’s the proof of harm? Are we repainting hallways every year because someone banged into them with their bike, or is it just that a couple people have complained they had to wait for the next elevator because a bike took up more room than a person? If the latter (which is likely), is that reason enough to ask residents to risk their personal property and safety in a known insecure location?
            And get neighbors on board first. Chances are this is one or two people on the Board with a bug up their butt. If 5-6 residents show up to oppose it, they’re not going to do it. If they do anyway, run for the Board next time.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Good thoughts. I think these are much more salable to average people who might be on a condo board than empathy for the poor guy who needs special accommodations for his oh-so-special bike.

          • I own condos and live in one of them, and have/do serve on some Boards. I understand that you sometimes have to make rules, even potentially unpopular ones, to solve problems that have come up since people moved in. But if you’re going to change rules on people, you need to have a solid reason, listen to opposing concerns, and balance all that. IMO “other buildings do it” is not a compelling reason to change the rules.
            If we really were having to repaint the halls every year because people were scuffing them up with their bikes, then something would need to be done. That something might be requiring them to be stored in a common area where the damage will be contained to one location, but only if that doesn’t cause larger problems (I’d rather pay for painting than always worry about walking into a theft in progress). And there are probably alternatives, like requiring certain entry paths/prohibiting certain entry paths (if they’re narrow and likely to sustain damage because of that), like this building seems to be doing. In a building this small, the Board might even be effective in reducing damage by simply asking people to be more careful! Remind them that their condo fees pay for all that painting, and they will have to pay more every month if they aren’t more careful with their bikes. Believe it or not, that often is enough in small buildings where most people know each other.
            Another thing OP might consider: are there certain hours where they are particularly concerned about using the garage/breezeway entrances (after dark, after 9, etc.)? That’s also a proposal that reasonable Board members might be swayed by…no bikes through the lobby except between 9 PM and 5 AM, for instance…balancing safety against convenience (elevator waits) or damage (reducing the number of bikes going through the lobby/main areas).

          • And to answer the OP’s actual question: none of my buildings have rules prohibiting bikes from any area. Each has either a common storage room where people are allowed to store bikes (within the building envelope, no theft problems) or storage spaces for each unit large enough to store a bike or two (individually locked, within the building envelope, and no theft problems), and also don’t have problems with damage from the few people in each who I know do store their bikes in their units. In each case, most people opt to store their bikes in the common storage area or their storage unit, since they’re easier to get bikes in and out of (none of my buildings have an elevator, and the storage areas are down 3-8 stairs from the street/back entrance, where your unit might be two+ flights up). All of my buildings are smaller than yours, but only by a little.
            Yes, the people who choose to store their bikes inside their units tend to have spendy bikes, which are also lighter and easier to carry up stairs.

          • And, as a final point of advice…
            If you want to live in a building where rules & regs and general behavior/enforcement are reasonable and civil, look, as you can, for a place where people are serving on the Board out of necessity more than excitement. You might be able to tell this by requesting Board/Association meeting minutes during the buying process (the Association is not required to provide them during the disclosure, but most reasonable ones will). If people are saying they’d like to resign, but will serve again if no one else wants to, you’ve probably found your people. I’m happy to make my buildings great places to live, but it’s a lot of work and often headache-inducing (I believe my last Association minutes have me on record as saying “well, since 2 out of 5 have already firmly resigned with no additional volunteers, I won’t say no to being on the Board again so that we can at least have a quorum”). People like me don’t take on “pet projects.” We solve what problems need solving and otherwise leave people be. If you already own in a place, and newer owners look to get on the Board for activist reasons, suck it up and volunteer yourself, or at least go to the Board meetings (the Board should be posting notice of meetings, and any owner can attend).

  • It seems to be pretty common.
    For a little while my building banned bikes in the lobby. They could enter through the basement door and be stored in the bike room or taken upstairs in the elevator. We got complaints, and the main proponent of the rule moved out, so it was overturned a few months later. That said, I think people are still supposed to carry their bikes through the lobby to avoid making marks on the carpet, though I don’t think everyone does that (we did have someone leave nice, big grease stains on the brand-new carpet, which vindicated those in support of the rule).

    • At least in OP’s building, the floor is concrete. I’m also not sure how a bike leaves a big grease stain unless it’s just a general dirt puddle from riding in the rain.

  • I would fight those rules, tooth and nail. I had two bikes stolen from our underground ‘secure’ bike storage area. No way in hell I’m taking that chance with my $10k road bike. What point is there to ban bikes in a lobby or elevator? They don’t cause any more mess than people’s shoes, strollers, dogs, shopping carts, luggage, etc. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t just willy nilly hit walls and people with my bike when I’m walking it. And if the elevator is too full, I’ll gladly wait for the next one. This rule makes zero sense.

    • HaileUnlikely

      $10K road bike? Holy cow. I truly, honest to goodness, did not know such a thing existed. Years ago I had a roommate who was a serious triathlete. He bought a used racing bike on Craigslist for about $1000. I thought he was nuts until he explained to me that such a bike, if purchased new, would have been about $3000. And I thought *that* was high-end. Silly me. (And in all seriousness I sincerely doubt anybody on this or any condo board has any awareness that such a thing exists or that people who don’t compete in the Tour de France own such things. Perhaps they can write in a special exception for bikes that weigh less than 16 ounces.

  • Just going to leave this here and with all my fellow HOA Board members the best in dealing with owners and tenants…

    “The District of Columbia has adopted rules requiring residential buildings with eight or more units to provide secure bicycle parking spaces, effective as of November 28, 2014. These rules have been added as sections 1214, 1215, and 1216 to Chapter 12 of Title 18 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations. Violations of these rules are civil infractions, punishable by fines.

    The new rules require all existing residential buildings with eight or more units to provide secure bicycle parking spaces, located within the building, if possible. If that is not possible, the spaces may be located outside of the building, but the spaces must be secure, covered, and adjacent to the building. The spaces must be made available to employees, residents, and other building occupants.

    All new residential buildings are required to have at least one secure bicycle parking space for every three residential units. A “new residential building” is defined as a residential building for which an application of construction was submitted after the date of publication of these rules.”

  • Lived in 4 condos in NW DC since 1996.

    Building 1: 40 apts? – No bikes in common areas at all.
    Building 2: 150ish units – bikes only in garage. No entry in lobby.
    Building 3: 300ish units – No entry in lobby (sounds similar to what you sent)
    Building 4 (now): 180 units – No entry in lobby (again sounds similar to what you sent).

    No one ever complained. But maybe it’s time for you to live in a single family home if you can’t agree with community rules.