Cops in Carroll Gardens are cracking down on bicycles chained to city street signs, vowing to liberate the neglected machines with the power of the law — and a good set of bolt cutters — on their side.
The initiative was sparked by complaints from residents weary of seeing tangled heaps of rubber and metal at corners like Smith and President streets, according to Officer Vincent Marrone, a community affairs officer with the 76th Precinct, which encompasses Carroll Gardens.
Cops said they are in the investigatory phase of the crackdown, and will be canvassing the neighborhood in the coming days to find trouble spots. In the short term, education will be key, as the precinct will attempt to inform cyclists that it is illegal to lock their bikes to street signs.
Notes will be affixed to bikes in danger of removal, giving owners a last chance to salvage their property.
“If they’re derelict, we will take care of it,” said Marrone. “If the bikes are in good shape, we will try to find the rightful owner.”
The best chance of locating an owner would be if the frame is etched with a unique identification code, stored at the local precinct, Marrone said. Finding the owner of an unmarked bicycle might prove more of a challenge.
According to the Department of Transportation, there are 212 bike racks in the Carroll Gardens area, and the agency said its planning to increase the installation of racks there.
Marrone said that his officers are not in the business of taking people’s bikes — but once the precinct receives complaints, it must act, or else risk being chided for inaction.
“Our hands are tied,” he said.
Many locals said that the time had come for a clean-up.
“Some of those bikes have been there for nine months,” pointed out Katia Kelly, a member of the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association, adding that any bike with a rusted frame and blown-out tires ought to be removed.
Community Board 6 has set up an online survey to help plan for “more pleasant bicycling” within the district. Two questions focus on bicycle parking. The survey, which closes April 16, is available at www.surveymonkey.com/s/NWMRYR6.