If you read this blog you probably ride a bike, and if you ride a bike you're probably a giant nerd, and if you're a giant nerd who rides bikes and reads blogs there's a 99% chance you know "The Lumberjack Song:"
"He's a lumberjack and he's okay, he sleeps all night and he...STEALS BIKES ALL DAY?!?"
[Cue record scratching sound.]
Yep, that's right, a bike thief in Williamsburg, Brooklyn felled a tree in order to steal a bike:
SOUTH WILLIAMSBURG — A thief sawed down a 25-foot tree to steal a bicycle locked to its trunk last week, according to locals.
Sawed, are they sure? Have the forensics come back? This is Williamsburg, after all. Are they absolutely positive the tree wasn't hewn with an artisanal axe?
composite sketch of the suspect:
*[Just kidding, that doesn't happen to white people.]
Several witnesses also said the thief was accompanied by a blue bovine of some kind, and that after tucking the bike into the pocket of his flannel shirt he made his escape by using two MTA express buses as Rollerblades. However, police believe the witnesses may have been intoxicated.
Anyway, the upshot of all of this is DON'T LOCK YOUR BIKE TO TREES. First of all, it happens to be illegal:
Christopher Ryan said his friend locked a bike to a tree in front of 242 Grand St., between Driggs Avenue and Roebling Street, overnight last week — a move Ryan acknowledged was illegal and carries a $1,000 fine.
But more importantly, it's bad for the tree--especially when some lumberdouche decides to chop it down.
Still, it seems that many area cyclists are locking their bikes to trees, and so residents are calling for more bike parking:
As the neighborhood has grown, she's seen construction vehicles and beer trucks damage the relatively new trees. And many new residents are cyclists who attach their bikes to trees, damaging them with chains and locks, she said.
"We've had this explosive growth. Our infrastructure in general hasn't been able to keep up with it," Chapman said. "There is just not enough bike parking. They need to put up more bike stands, all over the neighborhood."
Okay. I agree, the city needs more bike parking. Absolutely. More bike racks, less car parking, livable streets, blah blah blah and so forth. I'm with it. Totally.
However, I also have an issue with the idea that, since bike parking is tight, then locking your bike to a tree is somehow unavoidable.
See, there are two problems with this line of thinking. Firstly, more bike racks in neighborhoods like this--while sorely needed--will not magically solve the problem, because they'll just get filled up immediately with delivery bikes and abandoned vintage 10-speeds left behind by people who have run screaming with snot bubbles in their noses to "cities" like Des Moines after realizing they can't hack it in New York. That's just the way it works. It's like these people who think rents will magically go down if we build tons of luxury condos get rid of rent control and stabilization. Yeah, right.
Secondly, cyclists are lazy, especially when it comes to parking our bikes. Think about it: if you can't park your bike right in front of your destination you're like, "This is bullshit." If you can't park it on the same block you're like, "The city needs to provide me with more bike racks, I'm being persecuted, this is a conspiracy on the part of the automotive industrial complex." And if you have to go all the way to a different street to park your bike you're like, "OH MY GOD WHERE AM I WILL MY CELLPHONE STILL WORK HERE WILL THERE BE ROAMING CHARGES?!?"
Actually, that third thing isn't true, because most cyclists flat-out refuse to park their bikes on a different street, and instead will do something lazy and selfish like lock up to a tree--or someone else's bike:
Look. I get it. Bikes are so damn convenient that having to walk from your bike to all the way to your destination seems inherently wrong and almost absurd. However, it's time we cyclists realize that in a crowded city we can't always be guaranteed our ideal spot. This parking crunch is a good thing, because it means there are more of us. After all, if we don't come to terms with the realities of bike parking and resolve to walk a bit more, are we then not as bad as the motorists, who think they're entitled to free car parking in one of the most expensive real estate markets in America?
No, of course not. We'll never be as bad as motorists. Motorists are fat, stupid, and ugly, and they kill people while pawing at their smartphones with their greasy hands.
Still, that doesn't change the fact that you should be prepared to walk a few blocks instead of locking your bike to a tree, because anything you lock your bike to becomes a potential victim.
Speaking of bike theft, here's a gripping story from Portland:
So, I’m walking back to my shop from the coffee shop when I see a guy (young male with his shirt unbuttoned) on a track bike. I instantly knew something was wrong and followed him around the corner. My brain said “that’s the bike stolen from alpenrose!” So, I grabbed him and asked “where the fuck did you get that bike?” He claimed he “bought it in north Portland for $300″ I said “bullshit you did” and grabbed the saddle and refused to let go, while asking a guy walking buy to call 911.
I'm glad this worked out and all, but NEVER DO THIS. Firstly, you could get stabbed, and getting stabbed over a track bike is like crushing your genitals on your top tube because you saved grams by drilling holes in your crankarms--not even remotely worth it, if not totally embarrassing. (Everyone knows track bikes are out of style, so if you're going to get stabbed over a bike it should at least be a 27.5+ bikepacking bike.) Secondly, when it comes to making snap judgements about people, cyclists are not always the most reliable--and that goes double for cyclists in Portland, who tend to be bewildered by anyone who doesn't look like they stepped straight out of Momentum Mag.
Of course, in this case, as a bike shop employee he was able to make up for his lack of law enforcement training with his superior mechanical knowledge:
Me and the bystander had to hold him for about 15 minutes before the cops did show up. He kept screaming obscenities at me and tried to wrestle away many times. I let the air out of the rear tire so in case he did get away he wouldn’t be able to ride it. But being a track bike with no brakes, track pedals and tall gearing, it would have been extremely difficult to actually ride anyway.
Oh, bike dorks... "I knew the bike had a 49/16 gear ratio, which would yield 80.5 gear inches and 16 skid patches. For every revolution of the pedals his bike would move forward roughly 21 feet. Furthermore, at 90rpm he would reach a maximum speed of 21.6mph, so if I reduced his tire pressure by 50psi..."
As a New Yorker though I was quite surprised to read this:
The officers that showed up knew exactly which bike it was, as they just personally filed the report. They were very helpful and the one officer was taking about how stoked he was that we recovered it and that “bike thieves make him sick”.
Wow. The police praised him? The NYPD would have thrown him in jail.
Lastly, check this out:
What, he didn't ride back down?
I told you cyclists were lazy.