Lock Cutting Result of Rogue Employee?



Lock Cutting Result of Rogue Employee?

cut lockAs previously discussed, Providence experienced a period of unrest recently as bike locks were being cut by an over zealous city employee.  An ecoRI article reports on the recent Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission (BPAC) meeting, where members had an opportunity to meet with Leo Perrotta, supervisor at the Providence Public Works Department.  During this session, Mr. Perrotta:

acknowledged the issue and blamed it on one public works employee who he said had a tendency to cut locks of bikes chained to parking meters. He said the employee had been reprimanded and the policy suspended altogether.

Perrotta said that in the case of bike-lock cutting, typically the department is issued a work order to remove a specific abandoned bicycle. But he said there was never a blanket policy to remove bikes locked to signs.

“The only time a bike lock should be cut is when we give a work order for it,” he said. “It should only happen when a bike is abandoned, has no tires or has been stripped.”

As the ecoRI piece notes, this doesn’t agree with what they were told during their initial investigation of the matter.  Earlier they were told the bike locks were being cut in places where bicycles were causing damage to the signs.  Mr. Perrotta went to assure the BPAC:

that bikers should no longer fear locking their bikes to city signs, but he still cautioned, “Just be cognizant of the fact that there are times we have to repair signs when a pole is damaged.” So bikers may want to avoid locking bikes to damaged street signs.

This sure seems like they are leaving the door open for them to continue the practice of cutting bike locks… when it’s convenient for them to get some work done.  Cyclists are again faced with the dilemma of trying to determine if a particular sign is “damaged”.  How about the Public Works Department instead tag signs that are “damaged” so cyclists don’t have to guess?  We are going to pass along this suggestion and will report back when and if it gains any momentum.


  • Jun 11, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Actually, there is a point missing. As a member of the commission, I asked the precise question of Mr. Perrotta what the policy would be for signs that needed to be repaired but where work was obstructed by a bicycle. He indicated that DPW staff has been instructed to contact him for directive in such a case and that for some repairs the bicycle may not need to be cut, but if it were, it would be taken to the DPW warehouse.

    The suggestion to leave a notice on the pole is a good one. I think I'll be seeing Mr Perrotta in the morning, I'll pass it along.

  • Mark Dieterich
    Jun 11, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    Matt, thanks for the additional clarification. Eric volunteered to add the suggestion of marking signs that will be getting future attention to the July BPAC agenda.

  • Dec 13, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Are there locks that cannot be cut?

    • Dec 14, 2013 at 8:56 am

      Not commercially available that I'm aware of and still able to be transported. An angle grinder is usually the tool of choice for cutting most solid locks (u-locks and the like) and heavy bolt cutters for chains and cable locks. The only thing a heavier/more solid lock gets you is a longer time for it to be broken.