Breaking News: 94th Precinct Clipping Bikes on Bedford Ave

Police officers from Brooklyn’s 94th precinct are, at this moment, clipping bike locks and seizing bicycles parked along Bedford Ave. according to Community Board 1 Transportation Chair Teresa Toro. The precinct gave Community Board members no advanced notice of the police action. Phone calls to the precinct have gone unanswered. Toro, who also works for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, reports that Council Member David Yassky’s staff is looking into the situation and says:

capt_paul_vorbeck.jpgCB1 recently wrote to the 90th and 94th Precincts asking them to establish an abandoned bike tagging and removal program. Such a program would ensure that bikes being removed are indeed abandoned; and there would be notice given to the bike owner to remove his/her bike by a given date.

Biking is on the upswing in our community, and I’m proud of that. I find it unacceptable that the precinct is taking such a negative initiative and I intend to follow up. In the meantime, I am calling the 94th Precinct (interesting, there is NO ANSWER on the phone so far despite three tries and counting). I am also letting our local elected officials know about this action.

I find this particularly outrageous, given Mayor Bloomberg’s and NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan’s recent efforts to promote more and better biking and walking alternatives for New Yorkers. Perhaps the 94th Precinct didn’t get the memo yet.

If you also oppose this action by the precinct, please write and/or call the precinct to let them know, and PLEASE copy our elected officials and CB1.

Captain Paul Vorbeck, Commanding Officer [pictured]
94th Precinct
100 Meserole Avenue
Phone 718 383 3879
Fax 718 383 8095

Assemblyman Joe Lentol
619 Lorimer Street
Brooklyn NY 11211
Phone 718 383 7474
lentolj@assembly.state.ny.us

Councilman David Yassky
114 Court Street
Brooklyn NY 11201
Phone 718 875 5200
Fax 718 643 6620
yassky@council.nyc.ny.us

The 94th Precinct was in the news a few days ago for taping notices to bikes parked in Williamsburg warning cyclists to "obey the traffic rules and regulations." The area around the Bedford Avenue subway station has been the scene of frequent bike seizures.

  • nobody

    It seems that we’re beginning to enlighten the DOT.

    DCP is somewhere in medieval times.

    NYPD, however, is back in the Stone Age.

  • ddartley

    “CB1 recently wrote to the 90th and 94th Precincts asking them to establish an abandoned bike tagging & removal program. ***Such a program would ensure that bikes being removed are indeed abandoned….***”

    I’m afraid this might be what did it–I would bet five bucks that the Precinct misinterpreted the CB’s communication, and thought it was a simple request to “please remove bikes from the street.” I hate to sound prejudiced against government employees, but in my experience, every time you request something of a government agency, if your request is more than four words long, THEY GET IT WRONG.

    If I’m right, then there’s hope that cops aren’t clipping locks simply because they’re mean jerks, but because of a mistake. Just trying to find a less than horrible motive here…

  • teresa toro

    ddartley & all:

    The flyers distributed last week by the 94th Precinct pre-dated CB1’s request for the abandoned bike tagging program. I had a funny feeling when those flyers appeared last week and sensed more 94th Precinct action might be on the way; hence my letter to the precinct. I acknowledge that my response to that initiative of theirs might have contributed to today’s events.

    The recent CB1 letter to the 94th Precinct noted that DOT has helped CB1 install many more bike racks in the community, and we’re planning more. (For example, once the sidewalk buildout at Bedford & North 7th has “cured” there will be even more bike racks there.)

    The upswing in biking in Williamsburg is an exciting development, though we’re all still trying to keep pace with parking demand and keeping the bike racks clear for their intended use. There’s chronic bike rack abuse by a bike-selling entrepreneur (he chains multiple bikes to the racks at that intersection; it’s got to stop). There’s also a noticeable number of abandoned bikes clogging the racks there.

    Rather than wait for the 94th Precinct to indiscriminately clip all the bikes, which they randomly do (today, for example), I felt it was time to echo Assemblyman Lentol’s request to the 94th precinct last year, and ask the 94th Precinct to establish an abandoned bike tagging program.

    DOT and CB1 have worked hard to site and install more bike racks. I want the racks to be available to the cyclists in the neighborhood, so they don’t have to resort to using traffic lights, parking meters etc. We clearly have a even more hard work ahead of us to educate the 94th Precinct about the need to approach bike parking much more constructively, and in collaboration with the biking community.

    Suggestions welcome — StreetsBlog (and probably at least 90% of you) know how to reach me!

    Teresa

  • v

    right on, teresa. thanks for your efforts.

  • Sarah

    Thank you Teresa Toro for being on this! It makes me happy to know that there is someone on my CB who is vocal and proactive about transportation issues in the community.

  • Davis

    i hope someone in the upper reaches of city govt can communicate to the mayor’s people just how much this kind of police action discourages new yorkers from choosing to use a bicycle as transportation. this is insane policy.

  • ddartley

    Teresa, to be sure, in my speculation, I was placing the blame on people misinterpreting the CB’s request, not the request itself.

  • Christian

    I assume these bikes were illegal parked? So is there something wrong with towing illegial parked vehicles (gas-powered or otherwise)?

  • Dave

    Illegal parking of bicycles. Hmmm.
    How the tables are turned …
    Maybe bicycles should be licensed, with little license plates like the ones in tourist traps with your name on them.
    Then, of course, would come the special interest plates …
    followed by the placards …
    Plus, those little meters … hey this is the Bloomberg administration, where everything is monetized.

  • Jack

    Good. I am sick of all the bikes left during the week by the people illegally selling them infront of Brooklyn Industries & S.A. on the weekends. Now maybe people who do use their bikes around W-Burg can lock up their bikes.

  • Dave,
    Way ahead of you–already minted some sweet “Police Parking” spoke cards. Get them while they’re hot!

    Seems I can park anywhere now. 🙂

  • cmu

    “Christian” certainly does not live up his name by exhibiting any charity, does he?

    “Illegally parked bikes?” What next? Illegally standing pedestrians to be shot on sight? If the bikes don’t get in the way, how does it matter what they’re locked to? Last I looked a parking meter is an ideal spot for locking a bike.

    The level of animosity towards cyclists is astounding.

  • teresa toro

    In the story, I gave the wrong email address for Assemblyman Joe Lentol. It’s lentolj@assembly.state.ny.us. Sorry!

  • teresa toro

    Most of the bikes that got clipped were probably illegally parked. I’m not condoning illegal behavior, but there are so few bike racks to meet the need, it’s understandable that cyclists chain their bikes to whatever they can. Most use common sense and consideration of other sidewalk and street users.

    What really fries my egg about this whole thing, is that this morning I walked along North 7th Street, approaching Bedford Avenue, and spotted a scooter illegally parked on the sidewalk. Not only had the NYPD NOT removed it, they did the owner the simple courtesy of sticking a bright orange notice on it and writing a similar warning on the seat, that if it was not removed soon it would be removed by the city. Bike owners deserve the same consideration and treatment.

  • cmu

    You miss the point. In any toleant society there wouldn’t be need of the phrase “illegally parked bike.”

    Locking your bike to lampposts, meters and other street furniture should bother nobody, except in the rare cases of cyclists who don’t give a damn. Happens all over Park Slope, where I live. Hopefully the overzealous cops don’t make it over here.

  • Christian

    WOW, just playing the devil’s advocate here. Change will never happen unless everyone can see and understand the other side’s point of view.

    The fact is, bikes chained to lamposts, fences, etc can be, at best, a nuisence and make some narrow sidewalks narrower. This should be seen as a call for more safe OFF sidewalk bike parking (like in Brooklyn when they reclaimed a parking spot or two).

    Bikers will never gain respect from the majority of the public unless they follow the rules. Unfortunete but true.

  • cmu

    Agreed on the “narrow sidewalks” or crowded places. However, where i live, in Park Slope, and, I’m sure the same is true in Wiliamsburgh, there’s plentyof room around meters, busstop signs and lampposts.

    Personally I’ve never been hampered by the bikes locked around here (many of which are takeout delivery bikes) and I’m quite willing to step around the few times it is a problem.

    Complaints about this issue are similar to those about strollers in PS. It’s an issue only if you want to make one of it. That’s what I meant by tolerance—do unto others etc.

  • Zam

    Bikers will never gain respect from the majority of the public unless they follow the rules.

    Christian, you’ve got it exactly backwards.

    Experience in other cities indicates that cyclists will increasingly adhere to the rules of the road only as New York City does a better job of creating infrastructure and rules that specifically accomodate cyclists.

    For a long time, NYC cyclists have been an invisible mode of transport, just sort of thrown out there to make their way through traffic on streets designed and regulated for motor vehicles (and sometimes on sidewalks, too).

    If you want cyclists to stay within the lines then create lines for them to stay within. And if you want to encourage a less rambunctious, male, bike messenger-ish population to try riding bikes in NYC, create physically separated bike infrastucture like what you see in Copenhagen, Berlin, Bogota and other bike-friendly cities.

    Until then, expect cyclists to make their own rules. Expect them to be as aggressive as they need to be to survive in traffic and get where they need to go on time and in one piece. Expect them to lock their bikes to whatever they can as long as the entire street is given over to car parking. And until you do these things to encourage more regular people to ride bikes as transport, expect your city and your planet to be a traffic cesspool.

    Pirates of the High Streets.

  • Johnny Walker

    Hi Christian,

    You are wasting your time trying to teach civility to these bike advocates.

    They feel they can park anywhere they want because they are saving the universe from itself, and they are so self-righteous as to be above reproach.

    Last night, I got into an argument with a guy who padlocked his bike to my building’s fence for the umpteenth time. The fence of the home I own! Cyclists have no respect for private property except their own.

    Every piece of private property in NYC needs a license to be on the public property. No exceptions. Including bikes. You think these people feel they are like everyone else and must obey the law and get a permit or license? Of course not. They own a bicycle and are superior to motorists and pedestrians alike.

    And, #9, Bikes should be licensed, so that when a pedestrian gets hit by a bike (as I and countless others have been), then we know where to find the perpetrator to pay for the hospital bills. And if you’re licensed and over 14, you should have insurance in order to pay for any potential medical bills, just like motorcycles and Scooters are required to do.

    But, Christian, I forgot. These people are above the law and better than everyone else.

  • Lee

    I live on Bedford between N. 7th & N. 8th and I have noted a TON of abandoned bikes or bikes that sit there for weeks and weeks on end. It’s a parking space, not a storage space!

    Some of the worst offenders are the guys who sell bikes on the weekends who end up taking up MOST of the spaces on the parking meters, light poles, and bike racks, making it impossible for bike commuters to get a space.

    When they first started selling bikes on the street they would load them up on a truck at the end of the day. No more. they just LEAVE them parked on the street all week. So 2-3 guys benefit by not having to cart their wares around, meanwhile bike commuters are left looking for spaces.

    After six months of looking at a pile of rusted bikes every day, they’re FINALLY GONE. If people were responsible, this wouldn’t happen.

  • it’s new york. take a cab.

  • nobody

    19: Sorry, but no.

    20: Lee, exactly. If the NYPD were responsible, this wouldn’t have happened. They would have tagged real abandoned bikes, and not have stolen non-abandoned bikes.

    21: See my answer to 19.

  • beatricethecat

    just a question, but how exactly do people know their bikes are parked “illegally?” i’ve lived in manhattan 16 years, and more bike racks have only popped up in the last 7 or so, and a) there are not enough at all and b) they are prime targets for your bike to get stolen and c) are often way crowded full. I have parked mine on the same rack all summer and on friday, within 6 hours, my front tire and several other bikes WHICH WERE TOTALLY LOCKED UP were gone. defintely not the NYPD clipping abandoned bikes. and yes i will get a lock for my new front wheel, that was my fault, i guess.

    I never knew there was anything illegal about parking using a lampost or sign post, i assumed maybe a bus pole was off limits, where else can we park? but honestly unless there is some sort of education program about these things, the average person won’t know. In London UK, when i got a bike, all my friends told me i needed lights or the cops would give me a ticket without me even asking. no one has ever said anything here about that or anything for that matter. I’m not saying every one needs to go to bike school like drivers ed but maybe its time to find a way to educate bikers. a friend of mine just said the same thing the other day. I don’t know how, but maybe someone has a good idea.

    and get drivers to put on their damn turn signals so i know they want to turn so they don’t run me over in the bike lane.

    but i def. agree with some kind of sticker/eventual removal of abandoned bikes, but not random clipping.

  • Karen

    Holy pedestrian-terror inducing bicycle riders batman…I’m afraid Johnny Walker might have had a little too much scotch before posting. So much drama. I can see the headlines in his mind…

    Rogue cyclists above the law…film at 11pm. Cyclists seen pedalling unlawfully on two wheels (two wheels? how can this be safe?)instead of the state-mandated four wheels. Cyclists seen using their own power to move from point A to point B without licences???? No lines to register their bicycles at DMV before hitting the road? What’s next? People walking from place to place without insurance and licenses?

    Ah. That was good fun. I’m glad that a lot of the people who post comments here are so far out that they are entertaining. People who complain about bicycles being locked around street signs make about as much sense as people who complain about strollers. They just sound like people who cannot accept that they have to share the sidewalk with other city-zens. In other words, if this is your biggest problem, then you’ve got it pretty good.

  • MyTwoCents

    Johnny Walker, you’re my type of person!

    More power to you…and the lock clippers!!!

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