Monday, April 04, 2005

Bike Guantanamo

520 Kingsland Ave., originally uploaded by Green Biker.

If you are involved with riding your bike once a month in a LEGAL ride known around the world as "Critical Mass" and you have a bike taken by the NYPD it will most likely end up here. This applies to NYC residents. 520 Kingsland Ave. is a warehouse for confiscated bicycles or as I like to call it the Guantanamo for our two wheeled friends located in a very industrial part of Greenpoint Brooklyn. Recently this building has seen some activity due to the constant arrests from the police on a bike ride that is perfectly legal. I picked up my bike here on Friday relatively hassle free because I was one of a dozen or so who had their bikes stolen by the cops and not charged with anything. 520 Kingsland Ave is not as far out as people would like to believe. It is just before the Greenpoint Ave. Bridge, which is one of two main arteries into Long Island City from Greenpoint Brooklyn. The other more popular route is down McGuiness Blvd and over the Pulaski Bridge. Both of these routes go over Newton Creek, which is a brown sludgy waterway that separates Brooklyn from Queens.

If you are driving from Manhattan or Williamsburg, take McGuiness and turn right onto Greenpoint Ave. Follow this for like half a mile past a lot of industrial lots and factories and then turn left onto Kingsland Ave. which is the last possible left before a bridge. There is a Storage place there and you are turning west towards Manhattan. It will feel like you are going into a dead end. There is also a fairly loud quarry to the left of this fenced in brick building but like in the picture; there is a sign out front. If you are traveling by subway you have 2 options. G train to Greenpoint ave. or the 7 train to Huntspoint ave. That seems like more of a hike.

When you get to the building. Go on the outside of the chain link fence to the right side. There is a road nestled between the quarry and the 520 Building. It will feel like you are going around to the back but it is on the left side. You will see a grey metal door up a little platform. This is the door you want to knock on. There is no buzzer so you have to knock until someone comes. I guess it is a huge building so you have to wait until they here your knock. Be patient.

The cops here are relatively nice and know what's going on. They need to see any necessary paperwork. If you were arrested you need a form from the DA's office in Manhattan. I believe at 100 centre St, (not 100% sure of the local) If you were not arrested then you need ID and it would be nice to have a picture of your bike, although it is not mandatory. Someone I was with didn't and was eventually able to go in and pick out his bike. There are thousands of bike in this space neatly stored. The cops must have an area they know are the most recent nabs, because they found mine easy. When they find your bike they will open up a big Silver roll gate. Here you will sign a paper and into a book. You will not be given any copies of paperwork or anything that tells you they took your bike. If you can, try and get a picture. It may also be a good idea to bring a patch kit, pump and a few tools…the bikes may need to have flats fixed. Don't expect to ride home with the bike. Most of the damage I saw on about 6 bikes was cosmetic, from loading bikes in and out of the flatbed truck. I didn't see anything that was terrible malicious, a broken toe clip here or a busted gear shifter.

Also there is rumor that the cops harass you here and may give summons. I didn't witness any of this. You do have the right not to answer any of the cops questions but it seems to be a situation you could just sort of laugh off and not have to proclaim…I will not talk to you. If you can, go in groups, the cops are less likely to hassle you at all.

Apparently this place is open 8am-2:30 Monday through Friday. The cop working there said the actually close at 3:00 but don't deal with anyone after 2:30pm

Maybe this info will help. Hopefully people will stop needing to go here and the cops will stop arresting and stealing bicycles.


Anonymous ksee said...

I know its a pretty ridiculous thing to point out, and Im not attacking or intend to make anyone defnesive. Can people be conscious of using names like "Guantanamo" and how it desensitizes the reality of the REAL Guantanamo, I know its sort of in jest, but they were impounded, in bike jail, not being tortured. I ask that when naming activities after Abu Ghraib or the aforementioned you actually raise pertinent issues about those places, and not just use it for your political satire.

Congrads to those that got their bikes back, see you last friday of April! or 2nd Friday in BKLYN!

3:54 AM  
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