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Artist paints picture of bike paths gone wild; Starts stencil campaign vs. illegal scooters, mopeds

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | You might see him out on the bike paths — but he doesn’t want you to know who he is.

All you need to know, though, is this: He’s steaming mad about illegal mopeds, scooters, motorcycles and souped-up e-bikes zooming through the city’s bike lanes, and he’s got something to say about it — make that spray about it.

Like Zorro, he wears a mask. But instead of a sword, he’ll be wielding — a stencil.

In short, he’s trying to keep the city’s bike paths from permanently becoming a chaotic, speed-crazed scene like something out of “The Road Warrior.”

“I am an anonymous street artist who’s had enough and has decided to take matters into his own hands and do the city government’s job,” he told The Village Sun. “Why haven’t they done one sign on the bridge or on the bike path?” he asked in frustration.

The masked path protector is guarding his identity. (Photo by The Village Sun)

The street artist spoke to the newspaper on strict condition of anonymity, saying he fears for his safety as a result of the campaign he’s about to launch.

“There’s not even one sign that says, ‘No Mopeds on the Bike Path,'” he complained. On the other hand, he noted, Hudson River Park, which is run by a state-city authority, does have signs saying mopeds aren’t allowed on the bike path — “and they enforce it.”

(The city’s Byzantine rules for “Electric Bicycles and More,” although seemingly rarely enforced, are posted on the Department of Transportation’s Web site; they state that mopeds — a.k.a. “limited use motorcycles” — are not allowed on bike paths — but that e-bikes and low-speed electric scooters are. The Web page, however, confusingly seems to set two different speed limits for e-scooters: 15 m.p.h. and 30 m.p.h.)

Trying to cut through the confusion and restore a semblance of safety and order on the bike paths, the artist has created his own “No Mopeds/Motorcycles” stencil, which he said he plans to spray onto “green bike paths…two-way, divided bike paths.”

The Village Sun spoke to the masked man on Wed., Aug. 17. He said he might start stenciling as soon as the next day. He plans to paint 100 of the images in Lower Manhattan, as well as in Brooklyn — he mentioned Clinton Hill and Sunset Park.

A moped zips along a bike path in Brooklyn. According to the Department of Transportation, mopeds are not allowed on the city’s bike paths. If the moped doesn’t have a license plate, that would also be illegal. (Photo by The Village Sun)

He’ll also be focusing his righteous spray rage, in particular, on the East River bridges. He dubbed these “the extreme danger zone” due to the way motorized, two-wheeled riders zip perilously around cyclists when they make passing moves on the bridge bike paths — especially on the Manhattan Bridge, which has a particularly narrow bike path.

Along with a mask, he’ll be wearing a “Safety Department” outfit, complete with a hardhat, white coveralls and neon, reflective vest. He’s rigged up an adult tricycle with a signboard in back that also sports the name of the made-up city agency.

The stencil is attached to the back of his trike. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Everything’s “ready to roll,” literally — except for one technical challenge: The coveralls are hellish to wear in mid-August.

“This is really hot,” he said of the outfit, though adding, “I can go out for at least an hour and do it.”

The artist is outraged that the city is simply looking the other way, allowing an explosion of electric and gas-powered vehicles to ride roughshod over bike lanes that cycling advocates, over decades, struggled and fought to create.

The situation is fast getting out of hand. Earlier this month, the New York Post took a speed gun out onto the bike paths, including onto the bridges, and found that more than one-third of “motorbikes” using them were speeding above the 25-mile-per-hour limit, with some whizzing by as fast as 35 miles per hour.

Responding to the Post, mayoral spokesperson Charles Lutvak cited a $900 million investment that Eric Adams announced in April to combat traffic deaths and violence.

The goal of the street artist’s initiative, however, is to spur the city to take more action and start doing serious enforcement. The way to make that happen, the bike lane crusader said is, “Embarrass the mayor. Embarrass the mayor. Simple.”

Riders on the bike paths will soon start seeing signs like these posted, in addition to the same image stenciled on the ground. (Photo by The Village Sun)

The anonymous artist has some sensible solutions to combat the motorized mayhem.

“The way to stop this is at the bridge — because you cannot chase them,” he said of the moped, scooter and motorcycle scofflaws. “I saw police try to catch one guy. He went 50 miles per hour. He turned and went the other way against traffic. On the bridge [though], it’s really easy to catch them.”

The artist, a former East Villager, recalled that the notorious Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang, who used to have a clubhouse on E. Third Street, at least followed traffic laws with their “hogs.”

“They were legitimate,” he said. “They had papers, license plates. They waited at [traffic] lights.”

The tricycle is outfitted with all the tools the artist needs to do the job. (Photo by The Village Sun)

The rules are very simple, he said: “If you want to go in a bike lane, you have to use an e-bike with pedals. The [scooter and moped] dealers are telling people you can ride in these things with no license, no plates. It’s illegal to have a moped without plates and pedals that goes over 20 miles per hour.

“Our city is in a state of denial,” he lamented of the bike path pandemonium. “It’s ruining the entire idea of biking — which is [supposed to be] calming traffic. It’s just really embarrassing for this mayor, because he campaigned on law enforcement.”

The street artist demonstrates how, before spraying a stencil, he will first create “a clean canvas” by sweeping the spot with a broom, so that the images adhere well to the bike lanes. (Photo by The Village Sun)

The activist offered a sad slogan to sum up the situation: “From Vision Zero to Zero Enforcement.”

“I think it’s that during the pandemic, these guys were considered heroes,” he offered of the rogue riders, adding, “It’s the arrogance of the technology — you can get away [from enforcement].

“This moped culture is even more disorderly than bike culture,” he said. “Solo wheels that go over 20 miles per hour are illegal. There’s a thing at a store in the West Village; you stand on it, and it goes over 60 miles per hour — 60 miles per hour.

The artist plans to sit on his bike on the Manhattan side of the Manhattan Bridge and hand out fliers and also count the illegal vehicles using the bike path.

“I have a clicker,” he noted.

“It’s not a big deal,” he shrugged of solving the problem. “You shut down the dealers, you stop them at the bridges and you tell them where to get an e-bike — and the mayor and the police would look like heroes.”

A test spray. (Photo by The Village Sun)

The tickets for illegally riding in a bike lane are $500, according to the artist. More to the point, the illegal scooters, mopeds and such should simply be confiscated, he argued.

“It’s against traffic calming,” he said. “Thirty to 40 miles per hour — bulls—. You can’t keep them out of the bike lane. The sanity level is 20 miles per hour — it’s a good limit for the bike lane. And cargo bikes, they should probably be limited to 15 miles per hour because they’re bigger.”

The street artists’ stencils will be impossible not to notice. He also plans to post signs along the sides of the bike paths with the same image.

“It’s very clear. It’s ugly,” he said of the image. “They should have that at the entrance of every bridge. Most of these guys don’t speak English — the signs and stencils will work.”

The artist will tow large sign versions of these cards, above and below, on the back of his trike during phase two of his campaign. (Photo by The Village Sun)
(Photo by The Village Sun)

After allowing a few weeks for the new stencils to have an impact, the street artist will then launch phase two of his campaign. For that, he’ll create a different persona — maybe something like a “town crier,” he mused — and will ride his trike around City Hall and police precinct stationhouses. The trike will sport large signs saying, “A Moped or Scooter With No Pedals or Plate is Against the Law in New York State Unless Max Speed 20 m.p.h.” and “The Motorcycle Menace — Fine the Dealers — Impound the Machines.”

He also has visions of the thumbs-down becoming a universal signal that cyclists flash at illegal moped riders on the paths. He’s even considering creating T-shirts with the gesture that pedalers can don to hammer home the message.

After interviewing the anonymous street artist, this reporter biked home via one of the East River bridge bike paths. Nearing the end of the bridge, he heard an extremely loud roar and, at first, figured it was just traffic noise from the bridge. It turned out to be a young guy on a dirt bike — which are illegal to ride on New York City’s streets — who tailgated him, while impatiently, loudly revving his engine, all the way to the end of the bridge. Apparently, he didn’t want to try a passing move on the tricky, blind-spot curves at the end of the bridge path.

As the Post reported, when he was campaigning last year, Adams said the city needed to crack down on dirt bikes, ATVs and other illegal vehicles — including by more effectively employing speed cameras and police to catch speeders using them. The mayor has since periodically posed for photo-ops with piles of confiscated dirt bikes and ATVs being crushed. However, the larger issue, many would say, of illegal scooters, mopeds, motorcycles and extra-fast e-bikes in bicycle lanes — that were intended, at least originally, for pedalers — persists.

17 Comments

  1. Michael Michael August 18, 2022

    They enforce the no e-bikes or scooters law on the Hudson River bike path? When? I see plenty of both.

  2. Sidney Owl Sidney Owl August 18, 2022

    I see lots of electric bikes with pedals for sale that go 30 MPH or more just on battery power alone. There’s no way really to distinguish those from the ones that top out at 20 MPH, the legal limit. The bikes themselves are supposed to have a sticker stating whether they’re Class 1 or Class 2 or whatever, but nobody’s checking and you can buy stickers online to make your Class 3 bike look like a Class 1 or 2:
    https://www.amazon.com/Electric-Bicycle-Identification-Number-Stickers/dp/B097SBJTD4

  3. LM LM August 18, 2022

    The “regular” bicyclists (especially Citi Bikers) in Manhattan are egregious in endangering pedestrians — bicyclists routinely go through red lights, go the wrong way, weave around pedestrians, ignore using bike lanes.

    And some really nasty bicyclists as well — I’ve seen bicyclists curse at pedestrians who dared to remind them that they had the green light.

    • dg dg August 19, 2022

      there’s nasty people. period.
      how do most car drivers respond to criticism? how many bikes have killed or maimed people this year compared to cars?

      • CHN CHN August 22, 2022

        That’s right. Deflect away from the actual topic and talk about something else entirely. The cyclist’s MO.

      • LM LM August 23, 2022

        dg
        You are correct – sadly there are nasty people everywhere.

        But the NYC bicycle lobby pushes the message that bicyclists are “good” people who care about others. As a pedestrian, I don’t think that is accurate.

        On the other hand, drivers don’t pretend to be the “good” people and are not sanctimonious. Yes, vehicles are inherently more dangerous — but most drivers follow traffic laws.

        (In NYC many vehicle-caused fatalities were with drivers drinking/using drugs and speeding late at night. Yes, that is criminal action)

        My neighbor spent 4 months in rehab after being hit by a bicyclist running a red light.

        My friend on a Citi Bike had serious injuries when another bicyclist ran through a red light and hit her.
        But that stuff doesn’t make the news

    • Law-abiding cyclist Law-abiding cyclist August 20, 2022

      Nice “whataboutism.”

  4. Stephen DiLauro Stephen DiLauro August 18, 2022

    Great story and excellent, on-the-mark comments. Thank you!

  5. Steven Hill Steven Hill August 18, 2022

    Anything goes on Hudson River bike paths… I ride a Citi Bike there 3X a week.

  6. Michele Herman Michele Herman August 18, 2022

    Bravo, Anonymous Artist!

  7. Diego Diego August 18, 2022

    Total lack of self-awareness is common in bikers, but he’s just ridiculous.

    Bikers have terrorized the public, and not followed any laws for YEARS — and demand capitulation from the public for their way. And now he’s upset at others, higher on the two-wheel food chain, so much he’s moved to action?

    HAHAHAHAHA

    Oh well. Suck it up, buttercup. No sympathy from this pedestrian.

    Deal with the chaos you have created.

  8. Ferdinand Cesarano Ferdinand Cesarano August 19, 2022

    This person is doing a great thing. And his comments about the bridges are exactly correct. What is especially infuriating is that there are usually cops sitting at the Brooklyn entry to the Brooklyn Bridge at Tillery Street, yet they do nothing about the many mopeds passing right by them to enter the bike lane. With a single police car at either end of each bridge, the officers could radio one another, and could catch every single moped rider illegally using a bridge bike path.

    We must hope that the city ultimately decides to take this enforcement seriously.

  9. Dianna Dianna August 19, 2022

    I applaud the efforts of “Masked Man.” Next is getting motorized scooters, bikes, etc. off of city sidewalks.

  10. JackDog JackDog August 20, 2022

    Welcome to Vision Zero run amok. Charles Komanoff — the Chief Sophist of Transportation Alternatives — initiated the grand plan on an irrational basis and it has continued to metastasize in a familiar Trumpian big-lie manner.

    Charles Komanoff: WRONG ON NUCLEAR ENERGY…WRONG ON VISION ZERO.

  11. MegNYC MegNYC August 22, 2022

    Go for it, Masked Man! And be safe!

  12. Joe Scooter Joe Scooter August 22, 2022

    This guy must be really fun at parties. 🙄

  13. gordon fitch gordon fitch September 3, 2022

    I ride a pedal bicycle all the time: my normal means of transportation. I haven’t been hit by a motirized bike yet. But “regular’ bicyclists, regular motor vehicles, many tines. I’ve even been run into by pedestrians. Just saying.

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