Report: New Parks Dept. Policy to Clip Locks and Seize Bikes

Just in case you thought all of the bike-related news today was good, a Streetsblog tipster in Queens reports that Parks and Recreation Dept. agents were clipping bike locks and seizing bicycles in Forest Hills, Queens yesterday. She was told by a city employee that the bike seizures are part of a new, citywide Parks Dept. policy. I have a call in to the Parks Department public information office to confirm this story and find out what’s going on. Here is her letter to Streetsblog:

Dear Streetsblog Staff,
 
As you may remember, a couple months ago, Mayor Bloomberg authorized the NYPD to seize hundreds of bikes in Manhattan which were parked "illegaly" on city property.
 
Yesterday, I was shocked to find a similar incident occuring in my neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens as rangers from the City Parks and Recreation Department cutting chains to confiscate bicycles on 71st – Continental Avenue and Austin Street.
 
Later, I went to the Parks Department in Flushing Meadows Corona Park where the truck full of confiscated bicycles sat to get the scoop. Here, Captain Kenneth Brown informed me that today began a citywide campaign involving the City Parks and Recreation Department. This time all bikes chained to city trees or to the metal fencing around those trees will be seized in neighborhoods throughout the 5 boroughs. Bikes are then taken by truck to the nearest Parks Department Headquarters where they are held for 2-3 days before being sent to a depot in Long Island. In order to retrieve your bicycle, you must pay a $50 summons – that is if you can find it.

According to the Captain Brown, bicycles are only considered to be parked "legally" to bicycle racks. Unfortunately, the city does not provide proper bike racks here as in many other neighborhoods. The citizens of Forest Hills and surrounding areas rely on bicycle transportation for lack of reliable and adequate public transportation.

We’ll let you know what the Parks Dept. has to say.

  • Mitch

    Chaining bikes to trees is bad for the trees, but chaining them to the fences seems pretty harmless, unless the bikes are blocking something. Why not treat the fences as naturally-occurring bike racks?

  • What if they used the summons money exclusively for buying and installing new bike racks?

  • Actually, the TreesNY tree fence is specifically designed to have bikes chained to it.

    Take a look

    http://www.treesny.com/specs%20form.pdf

  • Paul

    The next big thing will be required bicycle license plates, tags, registration fees….

  • There needs to be a definitive legal decision regarding this. I’ve always been under the impression that it is perfectly legal to lock your bike on public property as long as you weren’t blocking passage, obstructing access to meters, hydrants, etc. or causing damage to city property. If not, it should be legal, considering cars can park on public streets as long as there is no sign stating otherwise.

    In any case, the safest bet is probably to try and park on a city bike rack. Unfortunately there are not nearly enough of them and they are not always located where needed. Until we can get a court injunction against the illegal seizure of locked bicycles, fill out the online request forms to get City Racks installed anywhere and everywhere you can think of.

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/bikeped/rackfrm1.html

  • It would be interesting to get the information on where bike racks have been requested and see if there’s any overlap between the requested sites and the places where bikes have been seized.

  • pa

    i have to admit it really surprises me when i see bikes chaIned directly to trees. it’s actually bad for the tree. i don’t see how chaining a bike to a fence could do any harm unless it’s blocking an entrance or sticking out in an awkward fashion that makes it a danger to poeple passing by. i can’t believe this city! i mean there are bikes chained everywhere and it bothers the police, the parks dept, bloomberg, etc etc…
    so why the fuck don’t they put in more bike racks. HEY BLOOMBERG!!!! HEY BENEPE!!!!! HEY NYPD!!!! IF YOU DON’T LIKE WHERE PEOPLE ARE CHAINGING THEIR BIKES THEN PUT IN FUCKING BIKE RACKS! THAT’S ALL YOU NEED TO DO. WHAT THE FUCK IS THE MATTER WITH YOU? COME ON BLOOMBERG
    – GET WITH IT!!!!
    IF YOU WANT LESS CONGESTION THEN GET SECURE PUBLIC BIKE GARAGES. DO YOU GUYS READ THESE BLOGS? OR ARE YOU SO FREAKIN’ OUT OF TOUCH WITH WHAT GOES ON IN YOUR OWN CITY?

  • BTW, I think we’ve discussed the corrupt Sharpe james on this blog in the past, but he was indicted today:

    http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2007/07/former_newark_mayor_sharpe_jam.html

  • Sarah Goodyear

    My family had an ugly incident with a Parks Dept. employee in Battery Park the other day who yelled at us for locking a bike to a lamppost. He did not summons us as we were right there to unlock it, but he was really unpleasant about it and totally freaked out my 5-year-old to the point that he begged to leave the park.

    No bike racks anywhere in sight. And of course, that is the terminus of the most popular bike route in Manhattan, the West Side bike path.

  • Philson

    Thanks for all of the comments. I would personally like to see that this matter does not continue to fall through the cracks.

    Here are the New York bicycle laws. I believe this is pure. The laws at NYCDOT are the same written less elaborately.
    CaseLaw

    And an article written in 2004 on TransAlt.org

  • Philson
  • From the TransAlt article posted by Philson:

    “There is no City or State law that prohibits or affirms people’s right to lock their bicycles to public street fixtures. According to New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law one may not alter, knock down, cover, remove, or interfere with the operation of public traffic signals and signs and other street fixtures. It is against New York City law to lock a bicycle to a tree because the bicycle and lock could harm and potentially kill the tree; people should never lock bikes to trees.

    A bicycle resting on the sidewalk, locked to a traffic signal pole or signpost, lamppost, parking meter, bus stop poles and other public street fixtures does not interfere with the operation of these things and, thus is not against the law. Locking to non-bike rack fixtures is not ideal, but due to the lack of City-installed racks, it is often the only viable option. “

  • Steve

    I have been thinking hard and I can’t recall a single bike rack in any city park. I can recall chaining our bikes many, many times to black wrought iron fences near the Children’s Zoo, Wollman Rink, the Delacourt, and numerous playgrounds. Is it really the city’s policy to prevent people from visiting such locations by bike?

  • What I don’t get is Continental Ave and Austin Street aren’t even near the park. It’s a block away from the Forest Hills subway station.

  • moocow

    There are city bike racks in Battery Park. They had little signs on them saying to not leave bikes there over night. And apparently the Parks dept. made good on the threat several times in the past. Not 100 feet from those racks there is/was a officially placarded car stored on the street, across from the park, with -this is the best- a protective canvas cover on it. That car never seemed to move. It was there for a solid year at least, not sure if it is still there now.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

NYC Government Office Cracks Down on Indoor Bike Parking

|
The seemingly schizoid Bloomberg Administration continues to encourage bicycling with one hand while making it incredibly difficult with the other. Two weeks ago, amidst news of new bike lanes, on-street bike parking, and an impending bike lane media blitz, we heard about a gang of Parks Dept. employees clipping locks and seizing dozens of bicycles […]

The Hudson River Park Bike Seizure: Why’d They Do It?

|
Though there’s a rule forbidding parking bikes to objects that aren’t racks, it’s easy to miss unless you already know what to look for. Photos: Noah Kazis Last Saturday, ten cyclists returned to where they had parked their bikes in Hudson River Park to find them gone. They had been attached to a railing along […]

New York City Ate My Bicycle

|
Streetsblog reader Stephen Kling submits the following: I pedal my little folding bike to the Metro North station every morning, fold it up, and ride the train from Larchmont to Grand Central, nearly every morning, then glide downtown to Union Square. My fellow commuters eye me warily over their Wall Street Journals. Clearly, I’m a […]

The Streetsies

|
All in all it was a great year for New York City’s Livable Streets Movement. Here are the winners of our 2007 awards. See you in January… Best Livable Streets Project: The Ninth Avenue bike lane, Chelsea. Best New Public Space: DUMBO’s Pearl Street Pocket Park. Honorable mention: Chelsea’s Meat Market Plaza. Best Pedestrian Project: […]