Those all-white memorial bikes scattered across the borough may have a
new lease on life, after talks between “ghost bike” supporters and the
city appear to have led to a compromise that would spare the memorials
from new rules designed to rid the streets of “derelict” two-wheelers.
Sources told The Brooklyn Paper that the Department of Sanitation is
finalizing a new set of rules that would allow ghost bikes to be removed
by the police if they are so run-down that “they pose a danger to
Initially, the city intended to consider ghost
bikes automatically “derelict” and suitable for trashing, but a group
of activists, a community board and Assemblyman Joe Lentol
(D–Williamsburg) rallied to prompt the change that would allow the
department to remove bikes only if they are falling apart.
“We’re pleased that the [department] took into account all of the
responses of the community and the families of those bikers who were
killed,” said Leah Todd, spokeswoman for the NYC Street Memorial
Project, which erects the memorials. “It’s good to see that these
families’ voices were heard.”
The Department of Sanitation “won’t confirm or deny” the new policy,
but sources close to the process said that the department will take all
of the language regarding ghost bikes out of the proposed rules.
The new ghost bike laws would essentially give police the same power
that they have now over dangerous bikes, which is to remove them upon
request, complaint or imminent danger. Plus, the rules take away the
Department of Sanitation’s role in removing the memorials.
Still, abandoned bikes are getting so bad in neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Carroll Gardens that cops have launched their own campaigns to remove them.
Police have long said that removing bicycles should only fall under
their jurisdiction if they pose a threat to pedestrians on the sidewalk,
but heaps of metal and rubber in those neighborhoods have led precincts
to all-out crackdowns.
The proposed rules — without the ghost bike verbiage — aim to put that responsibility back into the city’s hands.
[Note: the final DSNY Derelict Bike Rules, as adopted are available here they went into effect on 10/04/2010]