another cautionary tale

so the series on bike theft continues.  here is a recent story from friend/neighbor/co-conspirator Jimmy:

So, from what I hear, this is what happens Now when you steal bikes or bike stuff from messengers or any cyclist in downtown.Word on the street is a couple of high school bike thieves were caught by a messenger in the act of petty larceny, e.g. stealing some commuter’s bike wheel.  Messenger says, “hey what ya doing?” and calls another messenger.  Kids try to act tough, but the amounting messenger population descending upon them like large squawking scavenger birds began to eat away at any courage and conviction they might have had left.
Instead of beating them to bloody pulp and sending them home in their own private ambulance (like the other times that this has happened) these messengers thought better of their opportunity:  they stole back … jeans, dickies, shirts, hats, jewelry, shoes … everything save one sock and two pairs of properly soiled boxers.
The boys exclaimed that they would call the cops and right then and there a Sheriff drove past and kept up driving past with a look of bewilderment, as to say, “these crazy kids these days.”
The boys were sent on their way and one very responsible messenger called one of the boy’s father on the boy’s cell phone, told the father of the whereabouts of his son, his current condition and why it was that he was in that condition.  The father replied with a simple and firm, “Good.”
As for the all the stolen items, they were quickly donated to the needy homeless person who calls downtown home.
If I lose hope with the balance of the universe, which I do from time to time, I must say, it these sweet morsels of serendipity that makes up for a lot of it.
Here’s to non-violence and [hopefully] how effective it can be.

Lube and Sprockets.

Some Good Bicycle News – From Northridge

(My apologies to any L.A. Eco-Village blog readers that don’t yet find themselves way into bicycles. It’s definitely a huge part of our culture here at LAEV. This article is more about an eco-villager bicycling and engaging in bike activism in L.A., than it is about eco-village itself. More eco-village specific articles coming soon!)

City Steamroller Truck Making the New Bike Lanes Nice and Flat

City Steamroller Truck Making the New Bike Lanes Nice and Flat

I had the good fortune of being the first person to ride a new bike lane in my city yesterday. Here’s my overly-long drawn-out first person account, with plenty of blurry cell phone photos, and even talk of what I was reading and eating that day. You can get all the details after the jump. For short version go here.

Continue reading

Some Bicycle Good News – from Korea!

After the theft, I got my #2 bike into good working order after a trip to Orange 20 bike shop. I had a good time riding it yesterday in both Long Beach and Pasadena… so I wanted to shift the focus here at the LAEV blog from bike loss/theft to something more bike-positive.

Former eco-village member Paul Bournhonesque, a good friend of mine whom I miss a log, shot these photos in Seoul, South Korea. They have public bike pumps attached to their bike parking stalls!

Public Bike Parking in Seoul, South Korea

Public Bike Parking in Seoul, South Korea

Note the Heavy Duty Public Bike Pump

Close-Up of the Heavy Duty Public Bike Pump

A Cautionary Tale of My Stolen Bicycle

“The best education is always expensive”
– William Gerhardt (my grandfather)

I emerged late last night – actually early this morning – from an internet cafe on Wilshire Boulevard near Normandie Avenue to see this cut bicycle lock lying in the street:

The cable lock I had been using since 2004

The cable lock I had been using since 2004

I had hoped to see this:

My bike locked properly

My bike (locked properly, in early 2009)

There were some signs that I’d ignored. Earlier this year, Federico (here) and I (here) each blogged about an incident where three eco-villagers had emerged from a movie to find wheels stolen. That night, I felt pretty smug that I always carry around two locks, and that I hadn’t lost any wheels.

Earlier this month, Jimmy Lizama posted an email about a friend’s stolen bike on the eco-village listserve. Alex Thompson posted a couple of blog entries recently about thefts. I should have been on alert.

Yesterday, I took a nap. I had some articles to write for my turn as an actual modestly-paid guest blog writer at L.A. Streetsblog. There were some files that I wanted to use on a PC instead of the (generally wonderful, but now and then incompatible) open source computer where I’ve been working.

I biked out to the internet cafe at around 10:30pm… drank some caffeine and got in a groove writing and didn’t emerge until 3am. I walked home dejected and swearing… and I really don’t swear very often.

So… how did I contribute to this incident? Well… I confess that I locked my bike badly. I did use two locks… but I only locked one – the above cable lock – to the bike rack. The other – a small U-lock – I used to lock the back wheel to the frame. When I arrived, there was another bike locked to the city inverted-U-rack that was perpendicular to the rack, making it very slightly difficult to lock mine properly. My incorrect mental calculus was that I would be in there for an hour or two, and I was right near a subway portal at a pretty busy intersection with lots of pedestrians, so it was ok to just lock it the way I would at a parking meter or other pole. This sort of thing works in front of a restaurant during the day… but, as the results indicate, it’s a bad way to lock a decent bike in the middle of Los Angeles in the middle of the night.

I should have turned the other bike around, so it was parallel to the U-rack, so I would have clear room to secure my bike in two places. This would have taken me all of 20 seconds… but there were a few folks standing and walking around… and I stupidly didn’t want to touch someone else’s bike for the slight fear that they could see me moving it and get upset with me. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that there’s a possibility that the other bike was placed there by thieves deliberately a bad T-angle so as to discourage others from parking correctly.

So… friends and fellow travelers… be on the lookout for my bike around town… it’s the blue one in the photo above – it looks more-or-less like that picture, though it has more stickers and new kinda-bulky black plastic mountain-biker pedals. It’s a big frame (I am 6’3″) light blue Trek, 24-speed, about 3 years old. Bontrager (sp?) black/gray puncture-resistant slick road tires. Lots of stickers – C.I.C.L.E., FoLAR and others. There’s a faded green paper flower and a large Chinese bell on the straight handlebars. There’s a basic black utilitarian rack on the back.

I hereby resolve to lock my bikes really really well in the future.