As if we need another reason to complain about reckless bicyclists on the streets of Brooklyn – not only do they put their own lives at risk in order to make the city a less polluted and traffic congested place, but they kill trees!

Not by crashing into them – this is a slower more painful death. Apparently trees, those things with green leaves, are mistaken for bike racks. And blame it on forgetfulness or rust or stolen parts, whatever the reason, many bikes are abandoned attached to trees.

As the trees continues to grow they literally get choked by the chains that becomes tighter and tighter around the trunks, a fatal process called girdling.

One Brooklyn man is sick and tired of seeing these soon to be suffocated trees and began the Treedom Project to save them. He needs your help!

If you see an old rusty clunker chained to a tree, report it. On Sunday May 26th, Rob and his team of DIY tree heros will be cutting the locks off reported bikes.


I met up with tree vigilante Rob Birdsong and his big hound dog Bo on the corner of Moultre St and Norman Ave in Greenpoint to take a look at a reported tree. A rusty bike with flattened tires, unrideable after a rough winter, was left chained to the tree. It’s clear this cyclist doesn’t care about his bike – or the tree. And right around the corner we found another tree choking bike.

You’ve been warned!

Onto each reported and seemingly abandoned bike, Rob leaves a note that reads, ” Is this yours?” This gives the bike abandoner enough time to either remove the bike or tell Rob to leave it be. Otherwise, it’s getting clipped.

I asked Rob, why trees? An Atlanta native who had a tree house growing up, Rob loves trees. After watching a bike left chained to a tree for months in Williamsburg, Crest Hardware was generous enough to lend Rob a pair of bolt cutters to free the tree.

When he adopted Bo, a pup who requires a lot of walking, he began to notice more and more unfairly chained trees. “Once you notice it once, every tree you walk past you are going to notice it again,” Rob explained.

A self-proclaimed “tree scouter” who is completing his official Citizen Pruner Course, and under the consultation of Matthew Fried, a Yale Foresty School graduate, Rob began the “30 day passion project,” which he hopes raises community awareness about the care of trees.

As for all those abandoned bikes, Rob wants to display everything in a TBD space as an awareness exhibit along with educational information about urban forests.

If you see a tree with an abandoned bike chained to it: report it before May 26th, 2013.

And if you’re thinking about chaining your bike to a tree – think again – you risk a $1000 fine.

Trees are vital to life and make our city cleaner and more beautiful, take care of them like you would a neighbor.

Watch Rob’s Treedom Project Video! He unchains a tree to the sound of George Michael’s Freedom!

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