Unusable, forgotten bikes are mainstays of the NYC streetscape, hogging bike parking for months and even years before they meet the Department of Sanitation’s standards for removal. DSNY has proposed a rule change to loosen its criteria, but advocates say it doesn’t go far enough to solve the city’s abandoned bike problem.
Reports of abandoned bikes have increased 43 percent this year compared to 2015, according to 311 data made available by the city. But DSNY will only remove a derelict bike after it’s reported via 311 — and only if it meets three of the following criteria:
- It is “crushed or not usable”
- It is missing parts
- It has a flat or missing tires
- It has damaged handlebars or pedals
- At least 75 percent of the bike rusted
Under current rules, staff check on a bike once it has been reported via 311 and tag it for removal if it meets the criteria. If the tag is not removed by an owner within one week, the bike gets impounded.
DSNY’s proposed change would lower the threshold for removal from three criteria to two and lower the rust threshold to 50 percent [PDF]. Additionally, “flat or missing tires” would no longer be one of the criteria for removal.
DSNY held a hearing on the rule change August 9 and must now determine how to proceed. Advocates and elected officials who testified at the hearing don’t think the proposal will improve matters much.
Recycle-A-Bicycle Executive Director Karen Overton, who testified at the hearing, said even the new criteria will leave countless abandoned bikes rotting away on sidewalks.