My latest radio story is a saga: my mostly failed quest to get the city to remove abandoned bikes. We also made a cool SeeClickFix map to help. But alas, we were too digital and not officially derelict enough.
The life cycle of a bike left to rot on NYC streets is long, and intentionally so. The complaint process is as clunky as the cast off bikes themselves and the criteria for removal is stiffer than the U-lock holding this pilfered cruiser to a bike rack on Bleecker Street.
The first obstacle is opinion. What you consider an abandoned nuisance taking up prime bike parking real estate is property to someone else. Most bikes reported to the city as abandoned aren’t abandoned enough to be removed (see definition below).
Before we started collecting abandoned bike photos, the City received 429 official complaints since July, the start of the fiscal year. Of those, just 60 bikes were removed, less than 15 percent.
That’s because …