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.”

  • jaxbot

    Rides a Yuba to buy groceries, but blocked a Costco from opening in his neighborhood? Opposes 12th/13th St bike lanes? I can’t tell if he just represents clients or if his views truly align. How can you be opposed to yuba-sized bike lanes in your neighborhood?

  • jaxbot

    So Schwartz isn’t anti-bike lane.. is he anti *this* bike lane, or just representing clients who are? I’m confused. Also, respect for the Yuba, but why would you block a Costco right by your place if you have a cargo bike?

  • Man, doesn’t Schwartz get that he’s just saying every old bikelash trope available? “I have a bike!” “I supported a bike path once!” (That wasn’t near anyone’s home and didn’t take parking!) We’ve heard it all before from the mouths of Marty Markowitz and the NBBLers on PPW. It’s Mad-Libs at this point.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “And I believe that community input must be respected.”

    You know, there are places in Florida where they have these private governments — homeowners associations that control everything people do, with private streets no outsiders are allowed to walk or ride on, and a private tax base in the form of association fees that doesn’t have to be shared with those in the lesser parts of town.

    https://www.citylab.com/equity/2013/02/tyranny-homeowners-associations/4731/

    A libertarian is a liberal who has been mugged by a co-op board or homeowners association.

    In Robert Moses time, the short term local interest was bulldozed for the perceived long term regional interest. Then in the Arthur Schwartz era we got feudal hyper-NIMBYism in which people expected to be paid for any use of the public space they somehow owned.

    I’d say there is balance now. The community input is respected, but it is NOT a veto.

  • In the Sunnyside lanes controversy it was the same playbook, which is repeated over and over, often, as in this case, by the same person commenting. You almost wonder if they hear what they are actually saying.

    1) That no one is using the bike lanes.
    2) That there is so many bicyclists in the lanes that they are dangerous.

    It is an immediate loss of credibility they cannot get back. From the press and from the community.

  • Jeff
  • Some of my best friends are coloreds!

  • A vigilante is not a person who attacks innocent people. On the contrary vigilante is someone who attempts to uphold the law, and see that law-breakers are brought to justice. Arthur Schwartz you stupid fucking idiot.

  • I am surprised that Chan put his name to this statement. I hope that that means something.

  • I hope the next guy I run over with my bicycle is Arthur Schwartz.

  • jaxbot

    uhh let’s not stoop like that

  • Please. You think a rational person like me is actually going to attack someone with my bicycle. First of all that is just stupid in that it’s harmful to myself, in that a bicycle makes a lousy weapon. I am not looking to harm myself, buddy. I am merely stating–albeit with some malice–my hope that the next person whom I accidentally, unknowingly, uncontrollably, inevitably run down with my bicycle is Arthur Schwartz, because that’s what bicyclists do, you know, according to people like Arthur Schwartz: we run over and harm pedestrians. I am not hoping for any extra carnage in this world, if that makes any sense to you. This is all a satire in other words.

  • Komanoff

    “Not a single child was killed by a bicyclist [sic] last year in New York City.” I’ve tracked NYC traffic deaths rigorously for the past two decades and fairly closely for the two before that. I’m fairly certain that no child has been killed in a collision with a bicycle in NYC in all that time.

  • kevd

    I’ll be using that regularly as it is soooo good.

  • AMH

    I don’t think he said it was his or that he uses it, only that it’s parked in front of his house.

  • newshuman

    In my experience, this kind of vandalism occurs every time a new protected bike lane is installed in Manhattan. In one particularly dangerous example, a grocery store along Columbus Avenue would break glass and leave trash in the bike lane and when it got cold enough, would hose down the lane with water so it would freeze over. People in this city are literal psychopaths.

  • cjstephens

    It’s nice that you say it’s satire, but wait until you get quoted out of context. Best not to make “jokes” like this. It only gives the anti-bike crowd more ammunition.

  • Fuck that. I am tired of taking the blame for the whole situation. Our stupid words and thoughts on this matter don’t amount to jack squat, let’s stop pretending they do. More important is the need to vent. People are putting glass in other people’s way, and yet my silly words are a problem. OK

  • DAMNIT WILL SOMEONE PLEASE GIVE ME ARTHUR’S ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER ALREADY

  • cjstephens

    Your childish need to vent does more harm than good. When people say the sort of thing you’re “joking” about, it gets quoted back to us at community board meetings. Bike advocates are working hard to protect your life and mine. Please stop making their job harder.

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