Someone stole the entire rear wheel from my Trek bike, which is locked up in the rack next to my apartment building. It happened last summer.
The thief couldn’t steal the entire bike since I have a Big Apple Kryptonite lock and chain combination securing it.
The bike’s not fancy and cost me nothing, passed on to me by one of my neighbors who in turn got it for free from a mutual friend who owns several top of the line bikes and no longer has a use for it.
But it worked fine and I had replaced both tires with fancy new ones. It was annoying that I could no longer use it if and when I had the desire to. I felt violated.
But I’ve come to accept that I did everything right in this case short of keeping the bike in my apartment, where there’s simply no room for it.
Not so with my previous bike that was stolen.
My Specialized Hardrock mountain bike was stolen several years ago in broad daylight on Metropolitan Avenue, one of the busiest high traffic streets that runs through Brooklyn (apparently busy streets and daylight are when bikes are often stolen). Instead of the Big Apple combination, I used one of those flimsy u-locks that I learned too late could be and probably was picked in seconds with a standard Bic ballpoint pen. Just google bike lock bic pen and numerous How To youtube videos like this one will pop up.
That was a beautiful bike. Probably too beautiful with its sparkly metallic blue paint. And too new. It was a little heavy hauling up and down the front steps of my apartment building. But it was solid and I felt relatively safe riding it on city streets with all the potholes.
The day that bike was stolen was an odd one. A double blow.
I locked up the bike on a pole right in front of my then boyfriend’s apartment building. We had been gone a few hours, having just returned after putting to sleep Juanita, his 16 year old 1.4 lb teacup chihuahua, whose health had deteriorated so rapidly over the previous week that she no longer left her bed and refused food and water.
I noticed that the bike was missing when we stepped out of the taxi.
Of course I started doubting whether I actually did park the bike where I thought I had parked it. Did I park it further down? Did I forget to lock it? We walked up and down the block for several minutes before the realization set in and I accepted that the bike was stolen.
For weeks after, I remember looking vigilantly at parked bikes, moving bikes, walking into used bike shops, irrationally hopeful that maybe I’d spot my bike and even better that the thief would be apprehended. One of my friends had had her bike stolen and a few weeks later found it parked in front of a random building in her neighborhood in the east village and was able to get it back. She waited next to the bike for the owner to return. Turned out that the new owner had bought the bike a block away from a bike shop that paid cash for it and didn’t have a paper trail. At least that was the story the bike shop gave to my friend.
But that’s not common. Still I couldn’t help but hope the same would happen with me.
Check out this checklist for proper bike locking if you own or plan on owning a bike in this city.
I don’t ride bikes often enough any longer that I feel the loss of that Specialized or the use of the Trek. Ever since that tire was stolen, I’ve literally done nothing. I pass the Trek every day but rarely give it a second thought.
I still don’t know what I’m going to do with it.
Now that Citibikes is literally next to my apartment building it seems almost unnecessary for a bike rider like me who seldom rides one, to own a bike.
I’ve had the occasional thought of taking the lock off and seeing what happens. Will someone take it? Think it’s been abandoned? If they’re willing to go through the hassle of moving it, buy a new tire, give it some love, and actually ride it more than once a year, then they deserve to have it more than I do.
I’ll likely instead make a little effort. Ask the original owner or the neighbor who passed it on to me if either wants it back. Or ask around, post a sign in my building and see if there are any takers.
Who knows, maybe I’ll change my habits, move to a new place where biking more often makes more sense.
But for now, in the dead of winter, when snow storm advisories are in effect more often than not, I’ll wait until Spring when the weather’s a little nicer and the sidewalks and streets don’t look so darn menacing. Then I’ll make my move.