“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
I had hoped to see this:
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.