NYPD and DOT Condemn ‘Disturbing’ Attack on Village Bike Lanes

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg chatted with NYPD Transportation Chief Thomas Chan. File photo: Gersh Kuntzman
DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg chatted with NYPD Transportation Chief Thomas Chan. File photo: Gersh Kuntzman

The NYPD and Department of Transportation condemned Thursday nights attack on a pair of Greenwich Village bike lanes as “disturbing” in a joint statement issued to Streetsblog on Friday, hours after cyclists discovered the newly built lanes littered with glass and graffiti demanding their removal in favor of more parking.

The rare joint statement came from NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg:

We are very disturbed about the reports from the Village, where new protected bicycle lanes were recently defaced and rendered dangerous by broken glass.  As our agencies did with a similar action recently in Sunnyside, Queens, we are working closely with our colleagues at the DSNY to quickly clean the lanes.

DOT conducted extensive community outreach across the East and West Villages that resulted in the bike lanes on 12th and 13th Street, where we developed – and then adjusted — plans based on constructive community feedback. The City’s efforts for the L tunnel closure will remain in place as we continue to review the plan presented last week.  As we get more information from the MTA on their new plan, we will look at our planned efforts to make sure we are implementing the right elements.

The NYPD will vigorously investigate the crime committed to these new bike lanes, and find those who are endangering their fellow New Yorkers.  We intend to hold the perpetrator(s) accountable for these disturbing acts to the community.

Cyclist Jonathan Warner spotted broken glass in the 12th and 13th street bike lanes on Thursday. Photo: Jonathan Warner
Cyclist Jonathan Warner spotted broken glass in the 12th and 13th street bike lanes on Thursday. Photo: Jonathan Warner

The statement comes as West Village residents, including their lawyer, Arthur Schwartz, have made increasingly desperate and contradictory arguments against the paired bike lanes on 12th and 13th streets, which, along with a dedicated busway on 14th Street, were installed as part of the city’s mitigation for the L-train shutdown, whose suspension has enabled opponents to say the changes are now unnecessary.

Schwartz, for example, told Gothamist, “Nobody uses the bike lane on 12th Street” then claimed that older residents are afraid to leave their houses because of the threat of cyclists. (The ones who aren’t using the bike lane?)

And a New Jersey woman dropping her child off at a posh private school in the neighborhood told the outlet, “It’s not right to have a bike lane so close to a school. There’s always the chance of an accident when you have cyclists and children together.”

Not a single child was killed by a bicyclist last year in New York City, but cars are the leading cause of death in children, prompting multiple Twitter takedowns of the hypocrisy.

Arthur Schwatz. Photo: @advocat4justice/Twitter
Arthur Schwartz. Photo: @advocat4justice/Twitter

In an email to Streetsblog early Friday, Schwartz said:

I am not anti-bike path. I was a prime mover on the Hudson River Park/Rt 9A bikeway, probably the most successful bike path in the city. I have a very used Yuba, with an oversized basket for groceries, chained to a pole in front of my house (to the dimay of some of my neighbors). I do oppose the “busway,” which is wholly unnecessary now. Reason: I don’t want that traffic congesting the side streets and their bike lanes (which are blocked every day by delivery and construction vehicles). And I believe that community input must be respected. I once stopped a Costco from being opened on 14th Street between Sixth and Seventh because of the lack of community review.

In a subsequent call with Streetsblog, Schwartz said he also “condemned” the vandalism.

“If somebody put glass in the street, it’s horrible,” he said. “I don’t believe in vigilante action.”

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