If you rode your bike over to Hudson River Park on Saturday, you might have returned to find it disappeared, depending on where you locked it. As you can see, Parks Department employees confiscated over a dozen bikes that were locked along the West Side bike path. We can't blame Obama for this one. Our source, who asked that we not reveal his name, tells us what he saw:

Found this rather amusing and simultaneously infuriating. Yesterday afternoon I witnessed, along the West Side bike path near Morton street, a Parks Department employee with a small generator and a grinder sawing locks off bicycles locked to the railing bordering the edge of the path. Curious, I looked for signs stating that bicycle parking was prohibited, but was unable to find one. I'm assuming there does indeed exist such a sign, but would assume it would be posted far more conspicuously given that locks valuing greater than $100 were being destroyed and discarded and bikes were being hauled off on a small parks department buggy.

Also very interesting was the enjoyment the Parks employees seemed to take in the activity. Four of them chuckled endlessly as they piled well over a dozen bikes and began hauling them off. Now I don't know if the bike owners will be able to retrieve their property. I once had a bike locked to a parking meter that was uprooted when a muni-meter was put in. My bike was taken to the closet precinct. When I arrived to retrieve it I was told I need a receipt for the purchase of the bike. It was a 1970's Raleigh. I explained and was told tough luck. I continued to argue and was then told if there was a lock still attached to the bike and I had the key, that I could take it. I had the key and the lock was still on the bike, so end of story.

But in this case with the locks being destroyed and discarded, I wonder if the bike owners will be out of luck without their receipts? You would think with all the tax dollars spent creating bike lanes and advertising to promote bicycle transportation that the city wouldn't so frivolously spend money destroying tax payers' property while they engage in the activity they spent so much on promoting. I know cars get towed all the time, but this hardly seemed like the case of abandoned bikes, or bikes that had been parked for extensive amounts of time. Some of these looked like expensive bikes that belonged to people probably lying in the grass nearby watching the sunset. Nor did they really seem to be causing any problem or obstruction. Just a pretty shitty situation overall.

Shitty, indeed! We've made inquiries with the official Parks Department press liaison, and the rep for Hudson River Park, but have not gotten any response. But someone did pick up the phone at the Parks Enforcement Police [PEP!] office.

A City Seasonal Aid for PEP, one Ms. Cuttino, did not know anything about Saturday's bike seizure, but tells us that if you are looking for your bike, you should go to Pier 40, "walk down courtyard towards the field" and inquire at the PEP office. When asked if she knew why the Parks Department would seize bikes, she asked, "Were they locked to a bike rack? You cannot chain your bike to a tree or lamppost or sign or anything other than a bike rack. There are many bike racks in the park, and you're supposed to use them." Lawyers for Transportation Alternatives, the public transportation advocacy group, believe it is legal to park a bike to a sign post, etc. as long as it's not blocking the sidewalk.