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The company I work for provides cycle racks for cyclists in a semi underground carpark that is open at one side. Several cycles have been stolen from this area and one colleage was attacked by a bike thief who he surprised. Another was threatened on another occasion. The company refuses to install a gated caged area or secure entrance to the car park, does the company have a duty to provide a safe parking area?

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What is the jurisdiction there? –  Tadeusz A. Kadłubowski Feb 11 '13 at 10:16
    
I think in most of the US there would be only a minimal obligation to protect people from serious risk of bodily harm -- more an insurance thing than a legal obligation. –  Daniel R Hicks Feb 11 '13 at 12:08
    
Does your company own the property or do they rent it? –  hillsons Feb 11 '13 at 14:46
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Keep in mind that there is a vast difference between legal and ethical obligation and, in the case of many businesses, the cost effectiveness of those decisions. They may just decide that it is too much of a liability and remove the bike racks altogether. –  WTHarper Feb 11 '13 at 22:15
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4 Answers 4

where i work we had the same problem. Lots of bike thefts and on two occaisons, violence directed at people who interrupted a theft. Work had a duty of car to look after us and many options where explored including moving the bike rack from the semi underground car park.

It was decided that the underground car park provided good protection from the elements so a cage was installed around the bikes with a code to get in. We haven't had a single theft since. Absolutely brilliant!

If work won't pay for it, is it an option for all the users to club together and cover the cost?

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Where I live the employer would have an obligation under law to "Take all practical steps", however, one practical step for the employer is to remove the bike racks, as these are attracting the thieves, thus, the employer has addressed the issue.

I do not think you want to go quoting various legislation at them. The better way is to sell the benefits of people biking (reduce number of car, healthier people- less time off work (careful here - accidents can count against you, happier more lively people - more productive when at work.). Sell the benefits of not have low life-cruising company car parks (it's not only cyclists who will get attacked) - they might take a liking to the bosses car....

When you say they refused - how and what did you ask for? Did you leave room to negotiate, to did you demand a they provide a solution to your problem? Was the refusal from one person (say a low level facilities manager), or from the Executive/Senior management team? A flat refusal with no good reason would seem unlikely to me.

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Very good answer, especially from the perspective of looking at the problem both from employee and management perspectives. –  Paul Wagland Feb 15 '13 at 19:23
    
Anyone care to explain the -1? I have no idea why this answer could be considered bad? –  mattnz Feb 16 '13 at 1:04
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Where I worked in the US, our company furnished a parking area for bicycles, but it was up to the owner to secure their bicycle with a lock if they wished to deter any theft of the bike. The area for bikes was right in the same location of the vehicle parking, so the bike parking was visible from anywhere at the front of the plant. I would think that any company no matter where they were located can furnish an area for bicycles, but should not be held reaponsible for stolen bicycles or damage to bikes on their property. In my opinion, this bicycle parking area you describe is in an area that is accessable by a thief, but in an area that is too quiet and provides a thief with the solitude needed to break a bicycle lock unnoticed by anyone passing by. Quiet/darkened areas are very condusive for having a bicycle or anything else stolen. Maybe the company would consider installing a security camera and better lighting that covers this area, if they have someone to monitor the camera. If you can find a safer place with more pedestrian traffic nearby, that would possibly deter a bicycle thief from having "private time" to work on stealing a bike.

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I'm not a lawyer but there seem to me to be two issues here:

(1) does the company have a duty to provide a parking area (for bikes)

The answer is generally "No", but you may have a contract with them (written or otherwise) that means they are obliged to provide one to you.

(2) if the company provides a parking area what steps are they obliged to take to make your bike and you safe from thieves?

Generally, employees would bring property on to their employer's premises at their own risk but that is, again, an issue between you and your employer (check staff handbook, notices posted in staff areas, etc).

As for your personal safety, your employer would have some type of duty of care. If your employer knows of a threat to your health and fails to warn you or take reasonable steps to ensure your safety then there may be some liability.

As other posters have suggested though, removing bike racks, or simply advising you not to use them may be considered acceptable solutions.

My personal experience of this is that a previous employer did respond to bike thefts by providing a locked cage. Also, where I have worked in places that involve entering or leaving the building late at night, I have been warned of the increased personal risk (e.g., from drunks).

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