Around 7 pm on October 5, 2005 the NYPD removed bicycles locked to the entrance of the Bedford Avenue L station in Williamsburg. Locks were cut, bicycles were tagged and driven away in vans without prior warning. Although signs indicate property attached to these MTA railings will be removed, there was no such warning for bicycles removed from nearby signposts.
In fact, according to New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Article 24, Section 1115, it is completely legal to lock a bicycle to a signpost, lamppost, bus stop pole, parking meter or any other public street fixture as long as it does not alter or interfere with the operation of public traffic signals and signs. Because of potential harm, locking to a tree is illegal.
This situation underscores the need for more outdoor bicycle parking, one of the many important issues Transportation Alternatives is working on. If you walk or bicycle in New York City, you should really consider becoming a member.
I just called the 94th Precinct, which includes Bedford & N. 7th, to find out what excuse the cops would use and they wouldn’t talk to me. Call ’em up at (718) 383-3879. See more pictures here, and a discussion on Indymedia which includes a scan of the NYPD’s official guide to Bicycle Safety & Security that specifically recommends locking to street signs.
UPDATE: Apparently the law is unclear on whether cyclists have the right to lock to “street furniture.” City Council member Margarita Lopez recently introduced a bill that would codify this right: contact your councilmember and ask them to support Bill 685.