Cops spoke out against the infamous Bike Crusader this week, vowing to lock up the renegade if he injects any more bike locks with Krazy Glue.
It’s the 94th Precinct’s first response since the Bike Crusader — a longtime neighborhood resident who’s so miffed about bikes cluttering the sidewalk that he’s taken to vigilante injustice — took the news by storm last week.
“If we catch this person, he’ll be locked up for criminal mischief,” said Deputy Inspector Dennis Fulton from the 94th Precinct, which covers the bike-choked strip of Bedford Avenue that the Crusader is targeting. “I’m willing to talk to this person about it beforehand, though, so we can get this thing settled.”
Since the story broke in these pages last week, the Crusader — whose name has been concealed because we have not witnessed the crime itself — has been unwilling to negotiate with bikers or police, claiming that 10 years of petitioning for a bicycle “depot” on Kent Avenue or in McCarren Park have gone unanswered and forced him “to take the Williamsburg bike crisis into my own hands.”
The Crusader wouldn’t divulge when — or even if — he’ll continue to strike after the maelstrom of attention that the story received over the past week, but he appears to be losing the larger battle. Fulton told us that removing bikes from the streets surrounding Bedford Avenue is a low priority — cops clip bike locks only if the cycles are abandoned or if someone complains about them specifically.
Indeed, most anti-bike initiatives are met with horror in Williamsburg.
“We used to clip [and take] bikes because they weren’t on bike racks — but the majority of people in Williamsburg were outraged,” Fulton said. “Our resources are going to help the community, and most of the community uses and wants these bikes around.”
Fulton’s comments reflect one of the Crusader’s biggest complaints: that bikes — abandoned or otherwise — have been piling up on the streets surrounding Bedford Avenue in the heart of the neighborhood over the past few years. But Fulton also didn’t see any reason to remove them if they aren’t directly blocking a thoroughfare.
Plus, the Crusader’s methods, which may soon include going “up and down Bedford Avenue and injecting every lock” with the quick-dry glue, are illegal.
The renegade’s dastardly deeds prompted a whirlwind of discussion last week, when almost 300 commenters debated the city’s efforts to encourage biking in the neighborhood on The Brooklyn Paper website. Some, like “Jamie” from Greenpoint, argued that bikers “disregard all traffic rules” and should “be more responsible when riding and parking.” Plenty of others, like “Danny” from Williamsburg, offered public threats to the Crusader: “You glue my bike lock and I will glue your eyes shut.”
The New York Post even ran a column about The Brooklyn Paper’s coverage and the debate that’s taking over the borough.
At the end of the day, most of the bikers just want Williamsburg to be allowed to grow into the cycling hub it has already become. Indeed, the city already widened the sidewalk at N. Seventh Street and Bedford Avenue for the bikes, and put U-shaped bike racks on almost every block on the Bedford strip.
“If there’s any neighborhood where they should be widening bike lots on every block, it’s Williamsburg,” said Noah Budnick, deputy director of Transportation Alternatives. “It’s sad that bike riders and pedestrians are fighting over the scraps — the vast majority of us are getting around by foot, bike and transit, but we’re fighting car owners over inches of sidewalk.”
Budnick even liked the Crusader’s idea of a bike depot, where bikers would lock their controversial wheels in a secure lot that charges $1 a day. But he also agreed that the Crusader’s behavior is “unacceptable.”