MTA: Not Stealing Bikes. Just Following the Rules.

The MTA has been taking a lot of flack following yesterday's dust-up over MTA workers seizing bicycles locked to the Bedford Avenue subway station stairwell railing in Williamsburg. Perhaps the wrong transportation agency is taking the hit on this one.

A camera phone-toting tipster sends along the above photo. It shows that, not only does the Bedford Avenue subway station stairwell has a posted sign warning, "Any property attached to these railings will be removed," but it also lets people know where their property has been taken and what phone number to call to retrieve it: 212-712-4500.

MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin gave Streetsblog a call to let people know that the Lost Property Unit is located on the mezzanine below the 8th Avenue ACE subway lines at Penn Station. It is open 8am to noon, every weekday except Thursdays when it is open from 11am to 6:45pm. The MTA, Soffin says, doesn't have an interest in discouraging commuters from biking but "if someone trips over one of those bikes, we could get sued, without a doubt," he said.

So, with that, it seems, the Williamsburg bike parking problem lands firmly back in the lap of New York City's Department of Transportation. Back in July, DOT eliminated a few on-street car parking spaces, bumped out the sidewalk and installed bike racks on the southeast corner of N. 7th St. and Bedford Avenue. As shown in the plan below, the northwest corner is slated to get the same treatment. We have some calls out to find out when that project will begin.

Teresa Toro, chair of Community Board 1's transportation committee has been the driving force behind these bike parking improvements. She says that at this month's meeting, CB1 approved five more locations where the community would like to see on-street car parking spaces replaced with bike racks on bumped-out sidewalks. CB1's suggestion will be sent over to DOT where, Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has suggested that she is happy to see more projects like this move forward.

Toro says the other five recommended spots are:

  • The northwest corner of Driggs and N.7th St., near the other Bedford Ave. subway entrance.
  • Manhattan Ave. and Driggs, a spot near the park and with lots of nightlife and shopping.
  • The southwest corner of Bedford Ave. and N.5th St. "There is a storefront there but the entrance is on Bedford," Toro says, "It’s nice and unobstructed and would be a really nice little bike parking plaza."
  • Near the entrance to the new state park on Kent and N.8th. You're not allowed to ride a bike inside the park and there is currently nowhere to lock up outside the park.
  • Bushwick and Powers Street, one block north of the Grand Street L subway stop.

"Commissioner Sadik-Khan has indicated that she is entirely willing to do more of these," Toro says. "DOT will get a letter from CB1. Then they'll have to send out their engineers, do their turn radius measurements and make sure these are good locations. Then we just have to find the money to do it but the biggest hurdles are past us."