Abandoned Bicycles of New York
January 12, 2004 8:28 AM   Subscribe

Abandoned Bicycles of New York. Most seem to have been abandoned after thieves stripped unlocked components. Because of modern strong steel U-locks, many abandoned bikes aren't going anywhere soon. After reviewing these photos, you may want to review your bike-locking technique.
posted by profwhat (19 comments total)
I would heartily recommend the 2 D-lock strategy. I recently went to collect my bike after having left it locked up on campus for 2 months, mine was ok, the one next to it, with only 1 D-lock had lost its front wheel.
posted by biffa at 8:48 AM on January 12, 2004

Great post.
posted by Quartermass at 9:06 AM on January 12, 2004

On my block in Chinatown, I have to pass not one but two bicycles that belong to me---in both cases, careless, key-losing housesitters did me in (it's miraculous my cats didn't starve.) The parking lot people are about ready to kill me for "hogging the sidewalk", and each has been run over repeatedly. I've put up signs saying "please take me away!" with my phone number on them, but no one has, though I think someone tried once. I feel guilty seeing my former beauties all twisted up and blighting the street, but I don't have a lock snapper! What to do?!
posted by DenOfSizer at 9:08 AM on January 12, 2004

The blog is interesting, Sally Struthers would be proud.
posted by stbalbach at 9:09 AM on January 12, 2004

I locked my cute yellow mountain bike outside my house every night after work, with a chain and a U-lock. One morning I discovered that someone had stolen the unprotected front tire, and I had to take the train to work. By that evening when i returned, the saddle was gone... I think a few cases are like mine, an activly used bike where parts were stripped one by one until the owner decided it was no longer worth repairing.
posted by dabitch at 9:16 AM on January 12, 2004

What happened to the ground zero messenger bike?
posted by machaus at 9:21 AM on January 12, 2004

The navigation kinda sucks the way you have to scroll way down to the bottom of the page to see each pic after clicking on the thumb nail. I would spend more time there otherwise.
posted by wsg at 9:29 AM on January 12, 2004

My bike got stolen once locked to a pole outside the bike shop where I had left it for repairs (broken crank). (They crowbarred the U lock somehow.) Later in the week the thief brought it in to the same shop for the same repair.

That brilliant maneuver was quickly compounded by the gutless shop owner who let the guy walk away before calling the cops.
posted by luser at 9:42 AM on January 12, 2004

DenOfSizer - Best suggestion would be to get a hack-saw or saws-all and cut thru the bicycle frame. Much easier than cutting thru the lock.

Also, Kryptonite has a complete line of bicycle locks designed for urban areas. For example, here's the New York Fahgettaboudit Lock
posted by radio_mookie at 10:11 AM on January 12, 2004

Judging from many of these pictures, the crime committed is not theft, but rather vandalism. Perhaps the latter occurred while attempting the former.... In any case, I suppose the end result is the same -- abandoned bicycles.

As a person who's earned a living fixing bikes just like these, I'm here to say that if you have a source for used bicycle parts (no, I don't mean from other locked bicyles), these bikes are cheap and easy to fix.
posted by bicyclingfool at 11:18 AM on January 12, 2004

Thx, radio_mookie!
posted by DenOfSizer at 11:20 AM on January 12, 2004

Wsg: You can use the prev. and next links by the images so you don't have to scroll down.

Great post profwhat.
posted by Happydaz at 12:27 PM on January 12, 2004

The ulock is indeed a formidable device, but not impenetrable. Go find a small car jack and insert it in the lock then pump until the lock gives. The problems, however, are that the jack may damage the bike (depending on how it's locked) and it looks like you are trying to steal the bike (assuming that it's actually yours).

I'm surprised that municipalities aren't more active in removing abandoned bikes, as they often take valuable locking/parking spots and can interfere with pedestrian right-of-way. In my neighborhood there are abandoned bikeframes everywhere.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:30 PM on January 12, 2004

Here in Eugene, there are abandoned bicycles all over the place... Some of my friends keep track of them. I think they have a list of locations and associated salvagable parts somewhere. They 'steal' the parts they need after the bike has been sitting on its bent rims and flat tires for a few months. I don't really see anything wrong with that.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:59 PM on January 12, 2004

In Amsterdam, the city uses radio_mookies method to dispose of abandoned bikes (i.e., cutting the frame away from the lock). This leaves scores of empty locks hanging from bridges and lightposts.
posted by thijsk at 1:23 PM on January 12, 2004

I don't think I could hack saw through my bike frame. It would hurt to much.
posted by Yossarian at 2:10 PM on January 12, 2004

Bike thieves: First, you can't stop the vandals. If someone wants to trash your bike, the only protection is to keep the bike away from them.

First and foremost. Your trick bike doesn't have a lock. Why? You pay that kind of money to save two pounds off the frame, and then put three pounds of lock on it? Stupid. If you are paying $1500 or more for a frame, and you can't keep it inside, don't buy the ride.

Your trick bike doesn't need a lock, because the only time it is outside is when you are on it. Locking it in your house/garage might make sense, but you leave the lock there.

Your commuter bike gets the locks. Yes, two. One, a high quality D lock. Narrower is better. Two, a high quality cable lock. Why? The tool that breaks D locks is very different that the tool that breaks cable locks. Both tools are large and heavy. Very few thieves carry both.

Secondly, GET RID OF THE STUPID QUICK RELEASE SADDLE NUT People didn't steal saddles until those came along. Replace that idiotic thing with an allen bolt, and that problem goes away. By the way, you seat is probably too low, you should fix that.

Third. Your worst enemy is logos. Your best friend, on your city bike, is a bad paint job. Get a can of Rustoleum. Flat, not gloss. Strip or mask the frame, and let fly. Runs, Drips and Errors good. Put an ugly saddle on -- or, at least, an ugly cover. Get the bartape dirty.

Fourth. When you lock up the bike, flip the front quick release, pull the front wheel, and put it next to the rear wheel. D-lock the front, rear and frame together. If you can, you also get the D-lock around a post. If not, no worries, that's what the cable lock is for.

Fifth. Park near, but not next to, someone on a logo-clad trick bike with a cheap D-Lock.

Sixth. Trick wheels are like trick bikes. You want basic, boring, 32-36 spoke, alloy silver, no logo wheels. You also want slick tires, but that's not theft proofing. It is okay, nay, smart to have good hubs -- if someone bends your wheels, you can almost always hand the wheel to a competent local bike shop, and they'll cut the hubs out and build you new wheels around them. The hubs are the most expensive part of the typical wheel -- and, thankfully, they're the hardest to damage.

You can learn to build wheels, and just replace the rims and damaged spokes, but you then are dealing with differing spoke tensions, and it's just a pain. Basic spokes aren't that expensive, neither are basic rims. Your fancy triple-butted black anodized ones are -- but they belong on your trick wheels, which are on your trick bike, which isn't outside without you on it.

posted by eriko at 8:39 PM on January 12, 2004

Currently using an $89.99 KMart Huffy with a massive chain/padlock, Nashbar D-Lock, Specialized D-Lock, approx. $180 total lock cost.

I always lock both wheels and frame to a non-breakable or non-human-removable street fixture. (You'd be surprised how many street poles DON'T meet that requirement).

But I'm not locking a 'bike', I'm securing 'convenience'. Should someone manage to lift a wheel, I am left with no easy way home and bikeless until I replace it. It's not the value of the bike I'm protecting, but the convenience of having a bike which is always on the street. The current bike is going on three years which is a record for me. I thought it'd be gone by now.
posted by HTuttle at 12:16 AM on January 13, 2004

Eriko and HTuttle right---good bikes in the city are luxury and folly. I've got a simple yet eminently functional, 3-speed bike ($50) and a shitty $10 lock. Perfect security.
posted by DenOfSizer at 6:43 AM on January 14, 2004

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