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Home is where your bike is

Shankar Kulumani commutes by bike from his apartment in Woodley Park to George Washington University, where he is a doctoral student. (Jason Hornick/for Express)

Some renters want to live close to a Metro station. Others look for a building with reasonably priced parking. But for a growing number of District residents, a place to park one’s bike is the most crucial component of apartment living.

As the city adds bike lanes to make commuting easier, local apartment buildings have gotten on board with the trend, adding bike-friendly amenities to entice renters who cycle.

Shankar Kulumani, 28, bikes to class at George Washington University, where he’s a doctoral student in mechanical and aerospace engineering. He and his wife, Christine Kulumani, 24, have three bikes between them, so they made finding a bike-friendly building a priority in their apartment hunt.

A year ago, the couple moved to 2800 Woodley (2800 Woodley Road NW; 877-698-4894), which has a secure bike storage space and a bike repair station in the garage.

The bike storage means that when he gets home, “I don’t have to lug my bike up four flights of stairs to my apartment,” Shankar says. “This bike space is a lot better than a lot of other [apartment buildings] I’ve looked at.”

The bike repair station includes an air pump for tires and a set of tools to fix chains and other bike parts in need of maintenance. The video-monitored storage space can accommodate around 40 bikes. Renters who want to store their bikes there get a separate key to access the caged area.

2800 Woodley, which is managed by WC Smith, added the bike amenities about two years ago in response to the popularity of the similar amenities offered at a newer WC Smith-managed property, 2M Street (2 M St. NE; 855-374-5266), says Tanya Congdon, community manager at 2800 Woodley.

The effort has paid off; the bike storage space is currently full and has a waiting list, Cong­don says.

At a renter’s suggestion, 2800 Woodley plans to start donating bikes that former residents have left behind to visitors staying with renters in the building. “Any little amenity helps,” Congdon says.

Renter demand

“Renters are asking for this,” says Jeff Wood, senior director of development with AvalonBay Communities Inc. The company added bike-friendly features to its property, AVA H Street (318 I St. NE; 866-899-8699), which opened in 2012.

Curtis Donohue, 28, a teacher, has lived at AVA H Street since May with his wife, Ashley McMillan Donohue, also 28. He says the bike amenities factored into the couple’s decision to live there.

“When shopping around for apartments, that was a check mark on the positive side for that apartment complex,” he says.

AVA H Street renters can use the two locked bike storage rooms in the parking garage — which are decorated with bike-themed artwork — for $1 per month. The fee helps the building keep track of who is using the spaces and how many bikes are in the storage rooms.

AVA residents can also tinker with their bikes at the repair station — or “bike spa” as Wood calls it — in the building’s parking garage, which has a set of tools and an air pump.

“Residents like knowing their bikes are taken care of,” says AVA H Street community supervisor Dennis Skarda. He says some prospective renters ask specifically about bike storage areas.

For renters who prefer to keep their bikes in their apartments, the building has outfitted about 20 percent of its 138 units with “gear walls,” which allow renters to hang their bikes and accessories from adjustable metal hooks attached to tracks built into the wall.

AVA H Street renter Josh Madej says when he first moved in, he didn’t even know about the bike amenities. Now he uses them “on a daily basis,” he says.

Madej, 30, director of social media for a news organization, has lived at AVA with his wife, Brittney Madej, 26, for almost three years. They keep two bikes locked in the storage unit and another in their apartment.

The feature he likes the most is having a bike pump so close by. Before he knew it existed, Josh Madej filled his tires with air at a local gas station, which he says was a “big pain.”

Now that the couple is looking to buy a place, Josh Madej says bike amenities are high on his list of things to look for. When looking, “One of the big questions I had was, bike storage, bike amenities, air pumps, stuff like that,” he says. “It was definitely one of my top questions when looking at new properties.”

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