Around 7 pm on October 5, 2005 the NYPD removed bicycles locked to the
entrance of the Bedford Avenue L station in Williamsburg. Locks were
cut, bicycles were tagged and driven away in vans without prior
warning. Although signs indicate property attached to these MTA
railings will be removed, there was no such warning for bicycles
removed from nearby signposts.
No city or state law that prohibits or affirms the right to lock bicycles to public street fixtures. According to New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law, Article 24, Section 1115, a locked bicycle cannot alter or interfere with the operation of traffic signals, signs, signposts, lampposts, or any other public street fixtures. Because of potential harm, locking to a tree is illegal. The NYPD pamphlet on Bicycle Safety and Security recommends locking to street signs.
This situation underscores the need for more outdoor bicycle parking, one of the many important issues Transportation Alternatives is working on. If you walk or bicycle in New York City, you should really consider becoming a member.