City cleaning up abandoned bike litter

This ruin of a bicycle has been on Calhoun Street since this past summer.

Five months after Charleston decided to crack down on abandoned bicycles, the day of reckoning is approaching for a silver-and-blue, seatless, bent-wheeled wreck that's been locked to a parking meter on Calhoun Street for most of this year.

Which is to say, city code enforcement went out and tagged the bike for removal after The Post and Courier asked why it was sitting there along one of the city's busiest streets months after the abandoned bike regulations were approved. A photo of the same bike was in the paper in July.

Dan Riccio, formerly with the city police department and now the director of livability, said there was some initial confusion among city departments about responsibility for enforcing the new regulations but that more than two dozen abandoned bikes have been taken off the streets.

"I would say probably between 25 and 30," Riccio said. "There are a lot out there."

The new regulation stemmed from neighborhood residents' complaints in the area around the College of Charleston. City Council had considered prohibiting the locking of bicycles to parking meters and sign posts but set that idea aside and went ahead with the plan targeting abandoned bikes.

The way it works is, if a bicycle appears to have been abandoned in a public place -- often such bikes are visibly damaged, and have been left locked to parking meters, sign posts or fences -- the city will tag them with a warning that they will be removed in seven days.

If no one calls about the bike, then it's taken off the streets, checked to see if it matches any bikes reported stolen, and it's later scrapped or sold depending on the condition.

"The ones that are operable will be taken to the police department, where a report will be filed as confiscated property," Riccio said. "If no one claims it, it will eventually be put up for auction."

Livability, which is the code enforcement section of the city's planning department, assumed responsibility for enforcing the regulations on Tuesday.

Previously, police and code enforcement officers were handling different aspects of enforcement, Riccio said.

Some City Council members had questioned whether the police department would have time to deal with abandoned bikes, and having the Livability Division handle enforcement would appear to address that concern.

Riccio said most of the bikes tagged and seized so far were those that people had complained about.

Reach David Slade at 937-5552.