A front page story in this week’s Williamsburg Courier got our attention, “No Bike is Safe on Bedford Ave”—about a local vigilante who’s been injecting glue into bike locks to protest the overwhelming number of bicycles that are being locked up on the streets to just about anything, including city-owned poles. But he also says he’s not happy with bicycles even locked to designated bike racks.
His tirade is a rant against the new population. He’s quoted in the story as saying: “….These Yuppies are running the whole damn city, and I’m left to my own devices.” In this instance, the Courier is serving as a platform for a confused man and encouraging him by calling him “The Bike Crusader.” They further quote him as saying, “If I get the right people together, we will go down Bedford Avenue at 4am and inject every bike lock on the strip with Krazy Glue.”
But the Bike Crusader’s frustrations are understandable, there needs to be greater management of bicycles in the streets, but this man’s not angry at the bicycles… how can anybody really object to bicycles which is a mode of transportation? That would be like being angry at toasters. Or cars. Let’s guess that he’s angry at gentrification.
The Courier’s Andy Campbell writes that he has the confidence of the vigilante, for the exclusive story. Seems more like an opportunistic mis-use of a time-honored practice by journalists, who on occasion must protect sources who are actually trying to do something good, like uncovering government or corporate scandals. It’s also a disservice to this guy whose identity will eventually be revealed, unwittingly or wittingly, creating a laundry list of incriminating evidence against him, which could land him in jail.
For a news story this man’s actions are worth reporting and then calling for bicycle etiquette, calling for the city to accommodate the bicycles so that they don’t interfere with his or anybody’s quality of life. But the Courier chose to show off the criminal and sophomoric antics of a man and give him a platform from which to threaten others with property damage, an offense punishable by law. The Courier is in my opinion complicit.
Mr. Bike Crusader: maybe the real issue is the extreme changes in the neighborhood, the crowds, the over-development. Look at how the State Liquor Board keeps approving liquor licenses, the City Council keeps approving massive luxury developments. The neighborhood overpopulates because everyone is allowing it to happen. The cyclists are perhaps the most innocent members of your objections and deepest fears. Join the community board and advocate for good and balanced community growth. Start a campaign for greater bicycle etiquette, greater bicycle accommodations by the city. I’m sure the cyclists will work with you.
The other suggestion that we would make to the Courier, is to find out who actually owns these bikes that are populating the streets and remain outside overnight. We’re guessing that most of them are being stored there by people in the business of selling bikes, who have also co-opted the racks, forcing legitimate cyclists to find other places to put their bikes. Notice that these bicycles stay locked up for weeks. Conduct a real investigative piece, tag these bicycles, see how long they remain, photograph them.
The only silver lining to a truly ill-conceived story, is that the Courier is shedding light on an issue which needs to be addressed.