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Bedford Avenue Bike 'Graveyard' Clogs Racks Near L Stop

By Gwynne Hogan | April 26, 2016 12:18pm
 Dozens of abandoned, rusted-out bikes with flat tires, are hogging racks near Bedford Ave. L stop.
Bedford Avenue Bike Graveyard
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WILLIAMSBURG — For months, abandoned and decrepit bikes, some stripped of their wheels and others with flat tires, have clogged up the bike racks and scaffolding along North 7th Street, near the Bedford Avenue L train.

"They're rusted, they don't have wheels," said Leah Boatright, 25, who rides her bike from Greenpoint to the station when she commutes to Manhattan.

"It's obvious no one's using them."

The derelict machines are taking up so much space, cyclists are being forced to find other spots to lock up their rides.

"There's pretty limited real estate," said Matt Whyte, 38, a Greenpoint resident who said he'd been forced to "get creative" in the past, hanging his bike from a pole and locking it suspended in the air.

"I just call them skeleton bikes," said Jamey Poole, 27, a server at the Station on North 7th who said that most of the bikes at the main rack on Bedford and North 7th have been locked to the racks since he started working there about seven months ago.

"I just watched a person lock up [on the main rack], it took about five minutes for them to find a spot," said Poole who often rides to work. 

"I would love it if they would clean it up."

A visit this week showed dozens of apparently abandoned bikes clogging up two main bike racks near the entrances to the Bedford Avenue L stop, while more bikes are chained to sign posts and scaffolding at an empty building at 180 North 7th St. 

Derelict bikes have to meet three of the following criteria in order for the city's Department of Sanitation to remove them, according to spokeswoman Kathy Dawkins: it's crushed or unusable, it's tires are missing or flat, parts are missing other than the wheel or the seat, handle bars or pedals are damaged or the frame is bent, 75 percent of the bike is rusted.

Following an inquiry by DNAinfo Wednesday, the City's Sanitation Department tagged six bicycles in the area for removal on Tuesday morning, according to Dawkins.

"The Department of Sanitation does not assign officers to search out derelict bicycles as a part of their daily task," Dawkins said. "The Department does respond to investigate 311 requests to remove derelict bicycles."

And while the bikes are an inconvenience for cyclists who often struggle to find parking, others said they were curious about how and why so many bicycles ended up there.

"Was it like an art installation just to leave the bikes — we love bikes, we love them enough to make a graveyard type of thing?" Poole said.

Others thought the bikes may have been deserted by people who couldn't be bothered to come pick them up.

"Probably just somebody bought a bike and it was too much to sell them or they had to move quickly," said Stephen Majhcer, 26, who works at the Swedish coffee house Kondotori on North 7th and chains his own bike on top of two abandoned bikes on a rack right in front of the coffee shop.

You can report abandoned bicycles to the city here.