The Chainlink

Ok- recently we had a bike theft from inside of the building where I live. All of the tenants with bikes have been leaving them, in various states of locked or un-lockedness, in a downstairs hallway, which up until recently was secure enough. Then the lock on the door to the outside broke or was deliberately broken, no one knows. The bikes in the hallway were not visible from the outside. Workmen from across the alley said they saw a young, skinny man with tattoos walk into our building and come out with the bike. 

Anyway, long story short, several tenants, myself included, (they tried to say that the bike theft happened because someone had given out the code to the front door, when the back door lock had been broken for several days before the bike theft) asked if the building could fix the door, first of all, which took them about a week. And then they said the bikes in the hall were also a fire hazard (true- but mine had been there for a year, and all the others had. too, but they looked the other way) and had to be moved. They said they would put in an outdoor bike rack. We requested an indoor bike storage area, and since there is an empty apartment in the ground floor, which they never rent as it floods slightly, we asked if it could be there. They said ok. They also said nothing about a monthly fee. 

Today we got an email saying, we put in the bike room, keys will be given to bike owners upon request, for $3. Then it will be $10 a month after that. And a $50 fine if you leave your bike in the hall. 

Most of the apartments in this building are studios and 1 bedrooms, so there is almost no extra space anywhere. We do have porches so I am am considering keeping my bike out there, however, am wondering how best to keep it dry in rain/snow? 

Also- do other people live in buildings where bike storage costs extra? 

The rents in here are not cheap, and most of us feel we are at our limit of what we are willing to pay, so it looks like they got the new lock and bike rack for nothing, because we will all be squeezing our bikes into our apartments.

 

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I haven't heard of a charged bike room in an apartment building before, but I can see it as understandable.  Charging for keys keeps the access limited.  In my opinion it would be worth the $10 a month to keep the bike out of the elements and not having to lug it up and down the stairs.  Its only a 1-2% addition to rent costs, and less than 2 beers at a bar.  

Ultimately its their building, violating fire code, even if its just "turning a blind eye" isn't usually a good idea and unless you lease already provides for free bike parking, than they are able to establish whatever policy they want. 

There are a lot of thefts that take place for bikes left on porches, unless its a balcony with not stair access I wouldn't leave it out there overnight.  A thief could easily cut through the banister or lock and walk off with it. 

Personally I would pay the extra money and keep it inside, its a small price to pay for not giving up interior storage space or facing extra wear and tear of leaving it outside. 

Also this sounds like the building Cam lived in when he first moved to Chicago, over priced and under maintained (expect his never had a place for bikes or a balcony). 

Luckily many of the balconies, mine included, are just balconies and don't have stairs. Also, the ones in the interior are inside of an area which is not accessible from the street- the building is horseshoe shaped, then the neighbor's yard has a tall, locked fence and garage which block off the rest of the yard. Also, I am on the second floor, and no one can see into the yard from the street. Anyway. 

My rent just went up, and I am not in the mood to give these people even more money, so I'll probably keep my bike upstairs for now, and the rest of my neighbors have said they will do the same. Maybe I will change my mind later. 

A friend of mine pays to store his bike in a bikeroom in his apartment in Uptown. I believe he pays $50/year. For that he does get his own spot.

It would be nice to know that one had a guaranteed spot, also. A yearly fee makes more sense than monthly, plus, $50, obviously better than $120! :D 

We didn't actually get to see the arrangement of the bike room. I know that there are many bikes in our building that have been parked and cable locked to the downstairs water pipes, and never went anywhere, in fact, many had dust/flat tires/spiderwebs on them. Meanwhile, I ride several times a week and could never get a spot to chain to. So I just locked my frame/wheels together. The management kept saying they put in a "bike rack" singular. I was wondering how crowded it would be. 

Many people would kill for indoor parking. Paid or not.

That seems reasonable to me. $3 for the key barely covers the cost of having it made, and charging a monthly fee for storage keeps people from taking up space with bikes they never use. If it were me, I'd be happy to pay the extra $$ in exchange for having a more secure place to lock up my bike.

Its true- my last place had no real indoor area for a bike except for my apartment on the top floor! So I have been glad that I could leave my bike on the ground floor, indoors, for free. At this point, though, having just had my rent go up, I am at the end of my rope, budgetarily speaking. Probably I could scrape it up, but its the principle. I'm going to do what several of my bike owning neighbors are doing and squeeze it in to my apartment somehow. 

It was never the fee for the actual key that I had a problem with. But the way the whole thing happened, with them allowing us free storage, until our building was basically broken into, blaming that on us, and now threatening to charge $50 for bikes found in the hallway- its all been handled badly. 

Also, there is no guarantee that this bike room with be secure- keys can be copied, and no guarantee of a space where one can get in and out easily, and no way to know if people will park in such a way that it doesn't become a big crazy mess. 

Mostly, I guess I wanted to know if other people had a situation like this (where they had a fee for bike storage) and also any suggestions for keeping my bike protected from the elements if I need to keep it outdoors. 

Dubi lives in an apartment/condo building where use of the bike storage room is $25 per year. 

See, now that is reasonable! I would pay $25 for the year. I guess these things are kind of all over the place, because the condo building where my mom lives, and where they are *insane* imo, charges $30 per month!! I think in their case it was a matter of disgruntled drivers- the bike room is a fenced off area of the garage- who pay something like $150/200 to park. And it had been free there, too. I figured being a schmantzy-pants building with rules for every stupid thing maybe they were just weird, too. 

Interestingly, when they added the fee, lots of people, my mom included, gave up their bikes entirely. They also have a rule that you can't take your bike up to your apartment (not sure if they can possibly enforce this) because naturally they are concerned about the walls. :/ 

Steven Vance said:

Dubi lives in an apartment/condo building where use of the bike storage room is $25 per year. 

When I read this I thought "hmm, wonder if I should warn her that people get bikes stolen from protected/innaccessible balconies all the time" but thought better of it-- but  two fresh examples reported today:

http://chicago.stolenbike.org/



Pippy Duchamp said:

Luckily many of the balconies, mine included, are just balconies and don't have stairs. Also, the ones in the interior are inside of an area which is not accessible from the street- the building is horseshoe shaped, then the neighbor's yard has a tall, locked fence and garage which block off the rest of the yard. Also, I am on the second floor, and no one can see into the yard from the street. Anyway. 

My rent just went up, and I am not in the mood to give these people even more money, so I'll probably keep my bike upstairs for now, and the rest of my neighbors have said they will do the same. Maybe I will change my mind later. 

+1

Adam "Cezar" Jenkins said:

Many people would kill for indoor parking. Paid or not.

Suggest opening negotiations with property management.  They will be leasing space for bike parking previously uninhabitable because of flooding.  Maximizing their square footage with a new cash stream.  Start low, $25.00 annually.  Organize potential bike parkers users to join you.  If your uncomfortable as lead, ask for assistance from the group.  It sounds like it's a new situation and property management maybe open and pliable to adjusting the fee.  Worth a shot.  At the very lease you learn which people in the building drive bikes... my 2¢.

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