Man in East Village installs his own bike rack

Here's a fun thing to ponder: Can you install a bike rack outside your house and then claim it as yours and yours alone? It comes up because that appears to be what one intrepid East Villager has gone and done-going so far as to deface bikes that are parked on "their" rack. But according to the Department of Transportation such behavior is very much not okay.

Photos of the offending bike rack in front of 211 East Fourth Street appeared on The Local and EVG yesterday along with stories of how the rack's owner has abused people who have parked their bike on it. The man reportedly "used a variety of techniques to send a message to unwitting cyclists. He has allegedly locked 'trespassing' bikes to the rack for several days, or removed a tire. The source even said he had noticed that bikes locked to the rack were spray painted-possibly as punishment for using it." Apparently the rack had been installed by a nearby neighbor as a favor for the landlord, thinking that "it was a Good Samaritan gesture on his part-a contribution to the neighborhood." Seems he was misinformed.

Still, being fans of bike racks this sounded suspicious to us, so we contacted to DOT to find out if any of this was on the up and up. And it isn't! "Permits are required for the installation of bike racks," a DOT spokesperson tells us. "We are still researching, but at this time, it does not appear that a permit was requested for this location." Further, they tell us that " even if a permit is issued for installation, that does not mean the bike rack is for the exclusive use of the owner if it is installed on a public sidewalk."

So there you have it. The DOT commissioner now has the discretion to remove the offending bike rack if she so chooses according to NYC DOT's Highway Rules - section 2-10 (a)(2) [PDF]. Though it would really be much nicer if the rack's "owner" just learned to share-the more racks the merrier, y'know?

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