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NoLita Cyclists in Favor of Proposal to Trash Abandoned Bikes

By DNAinfo Staff on July 13, 2010 6:39am  | Updated on July 13, 2010 6:57am

By Nicole Breskin

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

NOLITA — The Department of Sanitation wants to remove abandoned bikes that are crushed, have missing tires or are lacking other parts and are locked to public property.

The public will be able to notify the DOS of "derelict" bikes through 311 calls starting this fall, if the city's proposal goes through. City agents will tag bikes with a notice stating the bike will be removed and trashed by the city within five days unless it is claimed, the proposal states.

Cycling activists in NoLIta are particularly excited about the plans. They said that neighborhood has a huge problem with the issue.

"Maybe it’s the residential lifestyle in the neighborhood with the small side streets, but we have a lot of abandoned bicycles and, then, nowhere to park our own,” said Paul Alexander, 44, who lives on Mott Street and rides two fixed-gear bikes.

An abandoned bike next to one that was likely not abandoned, in NoLIta.
An abandoned bike next to one that was likely not abandoned, in NoLIta.
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DNAinfo/Nicole Breskin

"They’re a huge eyesore and annoying to cyclists who can’t find a spot to park their bikes.”

Alexander worked with members of community group Northern Little Italy Community Association on a project mapping the abandoned bikes.

He found that NoLIta had about 32 abandoned bikes, with more than a dozen on Mott Street by St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral.

The DOS' proposal was prompted by the outcry of community members who were tired of the eyesores and wanted more bike parking.

"The fact that there’s going to be a policy to remove derelict bikes is a great thing,” said Caroline Samponaro, Director of Bicycle Advocacy at Transportation Alternatives. "It’s a long time coming. There was no system to deal with them before.”

Many in the biking community were opposed to the city's original proposal, which included taking down "ghost bikes" that serve as memorials to cyclists who lost their lives while riding the city streets.

But the department has amended the rules so that many of the ghost bikes will be preserved.

"To get rid of memorial bikes with derelict ones is just cold-hearted,” said Mary Beth Kelly, an Upper West Sider in her 50s, whose husband was memorialized with a ghost bike after he died cycling on the Hudson River Greenway . "We’re happy with the rules now. They should appeal to more people.”

A hearing on the proposal will take place next month.