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‘This Practice Won’t Continue’: City Hall Overrules NYPD on ‘Bike Theft’ Policy

Who ya gonna call? De Blasio!

Tweet — and policy — deleted.

Screenshotted ... for your reading pleasure.
The Tuesday night tweet ... screenshotted for your reading pleasure. (Notice the ratio.)
Screenshotted ... for your reading pleasure.

Hours after Streetsblog reported on the 107th Precinct's proud tweet about officers confiscating bikes chained to regular city signposts, the tweet mysteriously disappeared and City Hall issued a rare statement that upbraided cops for swiping non-abandoned wheels and, in some cases, cyclists' livelihoods.

“We’re on track to install 10,000 new bike parking spots by the end of next year, but that doesn’t mean fully functioning bikes should be removed from the street," said Mitchell Schwartz, a spokesman for Mayor de Blasio. "This practice won’t continue. We embrace the mission of ending car culture, and that means supporting and encouraging cycling across the city.”

Schwartz added that anyone whose bike was confiscated in the police action in Kew Gardens Hills on Tuesday night should merely go to the 107th Precinct stationhouse, at 71-01 Parsons Blvd. in Fresh Meadows, and show ID and proof of ownership (a photo of the bike will suffice, he said).

Schwartz comment ended, at least for now, the latest example of NYPD officials revealing their anti-cycling bias, which has long been documented by Streetsblog. It is illegal to abandon a bike on, or chained to, city property, but working bikes can only be removed by authorities if warning is given so that owners can remove the bike.

But that didn't stop the 107th from seizing at least three bikes from 141st Street and 78th Road. The officers' subsequent boast of the seizures on social media prompted one of the great ratios in recent memory, with the vast majority of commenters slamming cops for committing theft, for ignoring caselaw, and continuing to focus on cyclists rather than illegal parking at their own stationhouse. (The NYPD declined to comment.)

DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman, who has vowed to install 10,000 bike parking spaces, was caught unawares when he was asked at an unrelated Wednesday press conference about the 107th Precinct's confiscations.

Reporters who followed up later got Schwartz's statement clarifying the issue, which had threatened to become The Story of The Day.

"It's a real goddamn disaster when your DOT Commissioner — who's main initiative is to expand bike parking in NYC — doesn't know how to respond to cops condemning a majority of the city's bike parking," tweeted Daily News reporter Clayton Guse in a rare public show of frustration.

Transportation Alternatives was also ramping up its concern after Gutman's comments, but before City Hall stepped in.

“This is an embarrassing use of taxpayer dollars and we are offended it is being done in the name of pedestrian safety," said Marco Conner DiAquoi, the group's deputy director. "This once again proves that the NYPD budget needs to be reallocated to actual measures that keep New Yorkers safe from the threat of cars, and that there continues to be a huge, unmet need for more bike parking across the five boroughs.”

Thus far this year in the 107th Precinct, there have been 1,128 reported crashes — an average of nearly five per day — injuring 25 cyclists, 50 pedestrians and 450 motorists, killing one pedestrian and three motorists. Only one person has been injured by a cyclist (other than a handful of cyclists injured by themselves), according to city data.

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