Department of Sanitation Public Hearing on Removal of Derelict Bicycles

Testimony by Julia Kite, Policy and Research Manager, Transportation Alternatives


Thank you for convening this hearing. I am Julia Kite, Policy and Research Manager of Transportation Alternatives. We are a 43-year old non-profit with more than 150,000 activists in our network, dedicated to promote biking, walking, and public transportation as alternatives to cars in New York City. We advocate on behalf of New York City’s cyclists for safer, better, more livable streets.

Transportation Alternatives supports the new criteria for removal of derelict bicycles. These abandoned, unusable bikes create a nuisance and occupy space that could be used by responsible cyclists. This change is very necessary and overdue. As far back as 2012, WNYC was drawing attention to the fact that hundreds of bikes that were clearly abandoned and in poor condition were rarely removed, and our members routinely mention that they see unusable bikes that have been abandoned for several months, or even years, taking up space where they wish to park. Last month alone, the City’s 311 service received 163 complaints about unusable bicycles chained to public property.

• We have suspected that the reason derelict bikes are rarely removed is because the current threshold for the degree of disrepair a bike must show in order to be taken away is extremely high.

• At present, a bike can be unusable, but still not meet the criteria for removal. For example, a bike with a clearly bent frame and no handlebars is not considered derelict enough to be removed, nor is a bike with a completely rusted frame and two bent wheels. Under the new standard, bikes like these could easily be removed.

• Therefore, we welcome the new standard for derelict bicycles, because it lowers the threshold while still making it highly unlikely that somebody’s functioning bike will be taken away. The seven-day notice period after which the owner must remove the bike or risk its disposal is reasonable and fair.

We believe the new standard will result in numerous benefits for the city:

• Removal of possible safety hazards on public streets

• Opening up of bicycle parking areas and freeing public property

• Increased recycling of scrap materials

• Removal of public “eye sores.”

We would like to thank the Department of Sanitation for making an exception for ghost bikes. These important memorials and reminders of the dangers facing cyclists on New York City streets must be allowed to remain in place. We are pleased to see the Department explicitly stating they must not be removed. Thank you for your time and consideration.