Manhattan College Parkway resident Kevin Mullins offers bike repairs pro bono. While he has regular customers, his “business” can also be worrisome to some because it’s literally in a parking space in front of his girlfriend’s home.
He has donated adult and children size bicycles in front of his girlfriend’s apartment building on 4652 Manhattan College Parkway for a few years. He stations 10 bicycles on the street next to a handwritten A-frame — signs that can frequently be found in front of cafés.
“Let me do this for free and somebody wants to buy a bike, they just make a reasonable donation and you can get any bike you want,” Mullins said.
However, his neighbor in the nearby building doesn’t see it that way. She argues that he sells them for cash. A customer service employee for the Department of Transportation, Jessie Adair once saw a “for sale” sign last year.
Mullins recently set up donated bicycles because the New York Police Department visited his bike stand near Manhattan College a few weeks ago. They warned him that he would receive a summons for selling bikes since he has no active permit.
“I just want to do good by my community,” he said, “It keeps me busy throughout the day too.”
Some of the bicycles are in good condition and if they are low quality, he buys parts and fixes them.
Where does he find the donated products?
“Me,” said Nathaniel Commodore a resident of the same apartment building. Yet, Mullins claimed that there are more residents in the neighborhood who donate bicycles to him.
Commodore said to The Riverdale Press that he bought a brand-new bicycle and was not comfortable riding it. Instead of returning it, he gave it to Mullins.
Mullins continued to tell The Press he is trying to make a living while being out on disability.
Adair is concerned about Mullins’ business on the impact on the neighborhood.
“I said (to the 50th Precinct) it’s a quality-of-life issue,” Adair said, “If the law is broken, only one person has to complain,” Adair said.
The 50th Precinct questioned Adair on why she is the only one complaining about Mullins.
Residents in Mullins building told The Press that he does not bother anyone.
DOT did not confirm with The Press the legal status of placing bicycles on the street.
According to New York City law, agencies are legally not allowed to touch Mullins property. But the DOT considers it unlawful under its traffic and regulation rules to obstruct a street or save a parking space with property other than a vehicle.
Adair claims that Mullins business breaks multiple city laws.
In the evening Mullins puts his bicycles inside his girlfriend’s building to avoid theft because there have been reports parked cars being robbed of parts in the neighborhood.
During Thursday’s alternate side of the street parking for regular street cleaning, Mullins bicycles are left on the street. He said he cleans the five-foot bike stand weekly. Adair claims Mullins takes up to two parking spaces on a regular basis.
“Our reps visited the site during cleaning operations today (Thursday). At the time, there were no obstructions hindering our broom access,” said Belinda Mager, director of communications of the New York City Department of Sanitation.
Mager continued to tell The Press that a Department of Sanitation chief spoke to a person they believed to be the Mullins and told him to keep the bicycles off the street during alternate side of the street parking. And he agreed.
“DSNY will continue to monitor the location to ensure continued compliance with the street cleaning regulations,” Mager said.
The fine for ignoring those rules is $65. However, this is for vehicles with valid license plates and registration stickers. DSNY enforcement cannot ticket a bicycle with no information.
But police are able to give summons to cyclists if they ride on the sidewalk. The Press did not receive feedback from the police department or the DOT regarding cyclist summons for bicycles “parked” on the street.
Mullins requested a bike rack from the CityRack program. Those racks are managed by the DOT and are meant for short-term use.
People might be familiar with these silver round poles that are found on public streets.
CityRack “discourages bike parking on mailboxes, parking meters, tress and other side walk structures,” DOT said on its bicyclist website.
Adair said that the DOT are not allowed to cut a chain off a bicycle no matter where it is located, as it is private property.
“It is not fair for drivers,” Adair said. “When they look for parking they think they see a spot and then they curse when it’s bikes! You can’t put anything in the streets of New York they belong to every citizen to park.”