The NYPD was a little bike happy last Wednesday, May 30th. According to witnesses, they showed up without warning and used circular saws to cut the locks off of about 50 bicycles on 6th street between 1st and 2nd Avenue. The NYPD allowed people to take the loose bikes without showing any proof of ownership. They seized 15 bikes (including bikes locked to D.O.T. bike racks) and arrested two bystanders.
According to Time’s Up!, Robert Carnevale was arrested while videotaping the bike raid after he asked one of the officers for his badge number. Carole Vale, a nurse observing the scene, was also arrested when she asked why Mr. Carnevale was being detained. Mr. Carnevale was held for 22 hours and Ms. Vale was held for 13 hours. Time's Up!, along with the 6th Street cycling community are asking for a meeting with the commanding officer of the Ninth Precinct to explain the actions of the NYPD and to ask for their bikes back.
Reader Paul told us that his neighbor's bike was taken, in spite of her pleas that "she had an order from a judge labeling this practice as illegal" from a prior incident. Paul also gave us the verbiage of the 9th Precinct's bike program: "The 9th Precinct program recognizes the chronic bike rack shortage, allowing people to park their bikes at City-owned street fixtures and seeking only to remove bikes that are clearly abandoned, blocking the sidewalk or locked to a tree." (More about the 9th Precinct's bike program here.)
Executive Director of Time’s Up!, Bill DiPaola says, “Bikes should not be seized unless they are impeding the flow of traffic. This is a normal maintenance procedure that got way out of control.” He adds, “As seen last week, the police are not experienced with these types of procedures. This is a job for sanitation or for the local community, not the NYPD.”