Portland will begin enforcing a new ordinance this week aimed at getting abandoned bikes off public property, the city said in a news release Monday.

“The City will be tagging and removing bikes in the coming weeks to catch up with the backlog of bicycles that have been abandoned on public property for several months and even years,” said Kristine Keeney, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian program coordinator. “This will free up space on bike racks as well as remove obstructions to sidewalks and winter snow removal.”

The City Council adopted an ordinance in April authorizing the city staff to remove abandoned bikes, which are defined as any bikes that are locked in the same locations on public property for more than a month. The ordinance stems from complaints that abandoned bikes were unsightly and taking up valuable space on bike racks, especially near the Casco Bay ferry terminal.

At least two other criteria must be met for a bike to be deemed abandoned, including no tires or wheels; warped handlebars, seat or wheels; inoperable because of a missing, rusted or broken chain; or a visible layer of dust on the seat or handlebars.

The city’s public works department will tag a suspected abandoned bicycle. Its owner then has 72 hours to remove it. If the bike is not removed, the city can take it and store it for a minimum of 30 days in case an owner comes forward. What happens to bikes that are not claimed has not been decided.

The city is soliciting proposals from nonprofit groups that are interested in refurbishing confiscated bikes for community use.

Confiscated bikes can be reclaimed by calling the city’s Department of Public Works at 874-8493.


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