Who’s Sabotaging Bikers on the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges?


The Staples Center: Somebody is sabotaging bikers on the Manhattan Bridge by scattering staples and other sharp objects.

Lately bikers along the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges have been receiving a shiny welcome: staples.

Bike shops neighboring the bridges began to notice a spike in bikers coming in with flats a few weeks ago. “Three weeks ago I fixed seven or eight flats in one morning,” says Chris Dixon of Dixon’s Bicycle Shop located on Union Street in Park Slope. “Usually we average about one or two. Each one of them had staples in them.”

The reason for the sabotage is anyone’s guess. Unused staples are simply sprinkled along the greenways sticking to wheels and eventually puncturing the tubes. The theories behind who is behind it vary.

“It might be a pedestrian that doesn’t like cyclists,” says Brooklyn Heights Bike Shop manager Tony Scarselli. “The Manhattan Bridge has a pedestrian and a bike side. The bikers that came to me with flats, many of them were riding on the pedestrian side.”

Chris Dixon supposes it could be a case of a bike messenger seeking revenge. “You have some rowdy ones,” he said. “Some are very unsavory and will do whatever it takes just to get the guy he wants. They’ve been known to do some crazy stunts like this.”

Staples, broken glass and thumbtacks all have been used on bridges to disrupt bikers. However, Caroline Samponaro of Transportation Alternatives doesn’t want the recent staple-gate to overshadow the real problems facing bikers. According to Samponaro, the Manhattan Bridge saw a 95% increase in cyclists between 2005 and 2006. “Biking in NYC is booming. There has never been this many. It’s some sort of adjustment period people are getting used to it. I don’t think this is an epidemic or a problem that won’t go away. There is often glass and trash and other things on bridges. That happens when you don’t have regular maintenance.”

Dixon agrees. “It was a big gag and it just got way more people than these sort of things normally do,” he said.