Monday, November 7, 2011

Bikes... Unlocked

Having lived in a variety of cities from the quite large to the small farm towns, it never ceases to amaze me that so many people are comfortable leaving their bicycle unattended and unlocked. Even though I grew up in a somewhat small town, I think I've always had "city mentality," meaning that I don't leave anything unlocked (to this day, it drives family insane because they don't understand where my thought process comes from). Currently, we live in a fairly safe city where very little crime beyond tagging and the occasional theft take place, but I still hold firmly to the idea that doors should be locked at night, bikes should be put away, strangers shouldn't walk behind me suspiciously close at night, and anything I'd like to continue to hold in my possession should be out of sight of any passer-by.
You can imagine my surprise when I happened by this set of bicycles outside a coffee shop. I couldn't help but utter aloud, "They just left them there... unattended?" It's not the first time or only location I've noticed similar scenes. Several times I've been witness to non-locked bicycles outside local markets, sporting goods stores, and cafes. On one hand, I'm thrilled that people feel safe enough in our community to leave their bicycles in the open and unlocked, but on the other I cannot help but wonder if they've just never had anything stolen from them, so they don't have the fear of losing something they love or treasure. I have had bicycles stolen (and not even in big cities, but rather in fairly sleepy cities like the one I currently reside in), so perhaps I'm a bit on the paranoid side and not the person to ask about such things, but I would still think people would want to use some minimal type of lock.

I will admit that when I'm doing quick drops at the post office, I have, on occasion left my bike unlocked, but I can also see it through the window and I'm inside for less than 20 seconds. What do you think? Do you lock up your bicycle everywhere you go, or are there locations where you feel safe leaving your bike unlocked?


  1. I was going to say that I always lock my bike, but I skipped the lock twice this weekend. First was Friday evening when I ducked into an outfitters store to pick up a new headlight. I was in the store for less than five minutes and could see my bike right outside the windows.

    The second instance was much more foolhardy. A friend and I biked along the C&O Canal in Great Falls, MD, National Park and we left our bikes at a bike rack next to a boardwalk for an observation deck over the falls. I figured the deck would be *right there* like it is on the Virginia side. Nope. It was a quarter mile walk up to the deck (the views were totally worth it, by the way) and a quarter mile back to the bike rack. As I snapped photos of the autumn foliage and water falls, I started having visions of my poor Rose being taken from the rack, or worse: my pannier with my phone, car keys, and my *wallet* being lifted. I practically RAN back to the bikes and found them (and my unmolested pannier) in the company of several more unlocked bikes. I guess we National Parks-goers are a trusting lot.

    But yeah, I won't be doing that again. =/

  2. I lock it up everywhere, except when I leave it unlocked on my front porch because I've forgotten to. Saturday I was riding with my father-in-law in Lakewood and we came across a bike shop (Mojo Wheels on the Bear Creek Trail) and he wanted to check it out. There was no bike rack (OUTSIDE A BIKE SHOP!) and the entrance was about 20 feet from the street. We went in, but I couldn't look around because I was too paranoid about the bikes.

  3. Like you I live in a fairly sleepy little town without much crime, but I lock up everywhere. Even on my own front porch if I have to move my bikes out of the house I lock up (otherwise they live inside). At the same time, we will often leave the house, bikes locked up, but not lock the house. So, yeah...

    Chris - None of the bike shops in my town, or even in a 40 mile radius have bike racks! And I think that I've counted only 3 business that do have them.

  4. MFS - I would probably have sprinted back to the bikes as well. I have a real paranoia about leaving bikes unlocked though (probably, unhealthy amount). I still want to make it to the Maryland/Virginia/area... and it sounds like you found a lovely spot to see.

    Chris - I am baffled by how many bike shops don't have bike racks as well. It's quite strange, but rather frequent.

    Amy - How funny that you worry about the bikes and not the house. I suppose the bikes are a more obvious target though when sitting outside. I'm always the last one to check the door to the house (at night, when we leave, etc). It's not even that there's anything really to steal (other than bikes, of course) so it's kind of funny.

  5. Ha, our posts are in sync today.
    Just please don't do this : )

  6. You know, I thought the very same thing when I read your post earlier... it's almost as though it was planned. :O) I promise not to take anyone's bike and "store" it for them (BTW - I enjoyed reading that Peppy is storing your Mercian for you - Can't leave anything out for that kitty).


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