I live in New York City. Brooklyn to be exact. And while this city is far from bike friendly, there are still a lot of bikes here. Including many bikes that are clearly abandoned and utter garbage in many cases.
While the city often will go to abandoned bikes and remove them if you call in a complaint, this process is far from consistent or perfect.
So as a citizen who sees more than a few bike racks clogged with rusting bikes chained to them, what is the legality of me — as a private citizen — going up to these bikes with a few simple tools and stripping the bikes down to the bare frame?
To be clear, the bikes I am talking about are just junk at this point: Rusting drive chains and decrepit wheels with tires that are disintegrating and such. In many cases, small items such as the seat post and the stuff attached to the handle bars are gone. To any objective observer, these bikes are junk.
But my personal goal would be to dismantle them further — such as removing wheels and front forks and such — so they take up less space and thus freeing space up for people who want to legitimately lock their own bikes up?
I realize in many localities, garbage is considered municipal property and you can’t just legally pick someone’s garbage — even though people indeed do this — but in the case of an abandoned bike, does where and what the bike is locked to matter? I assume if it were private property I own, I can just snip off the chains of anything locked to my fence without issue. But I have a feeling that bikes locked to public bike racks and sign posts fall under another legal umbrella.