As a biker, my first instinct was to side against this vigilante. After all, if this man puts Krazy Glue in people’s locks, wouldn’t his actions have the exact opposite effect, making it impossible to remove the deserted bicycles? Wouldn’t it be far better if the gentleman acted in a more socially acceptable manner, and took more conventional actions such as writing a letter to his councilman, or leaving a note, or perhaps clipping the lock on an obviously deserted bike and donating this used bike to charity?
Bicycles are good for the city. They make the city safer. They slow the city down and make people more friendly.
By inviting in the reporter, the Crusader was able to publicize an otherwise dry, municipal fact: that deserted bicycles are a blight, they’re dangerous to the old and disabled, and they take up parking spots that bicyclists need to chain up their still moving bicycles.
But the deserted bicycles are deserted for a reason: Parallel parking cars carelessly run over and “taco” out rims. Petty thieves steal people’s seats, brakes and wheels. People lose the keys to their $50 bikes that are chained up with impossible-to-break $100 locks.
That said, I do not agree with the “Bike Crusader” proposal that bicyclists go to a depot and pay $1 to park far away from their destination. The city should encourage bicycling and do everything possible to make it easier and cheaper to bicycle.
And I certainly don’t agree with the Crusader’s tone or actions. If you see a bicycle fallen on the street, you should pick it up. You should call the Sanitation Department if you see an obviously deserted bicycle.
Acting negatively toward your fellow man by destroying other people’s property is bad for you emotionally, and might lead to the exact opposite of what you want to accomplish, which is making the streets safer for all of us. If you rode a bicycle, instead of resenting bicycle riders, you probably wouldn’t be so angry. Why don’t you try it instead of fighting it? If you come by my shop, I will lend you a bike.
The fault I believe lies mostly with the NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg. Bicycle vandalism and thievery is not high up on their priority list. I have had more than 10 bikes stolen, and have taken to riding around on the crappiest bike possible to ensure that my bike is still there when I come out of whatever errand I am doing.
The mayor should be commended for adding miles of protected bike lanes in the city. But until people can confidently leave their bicycles outside without fear of theft, the city will never truly become bicycle friendly, and the problem of deserted bicycles littering the streets will not diminish.
Baruch Herzfeld is the owner of Williamsburg’s Traif Bike Gesheft and was named by our sister publication, The Brooklyn Paper as one of the 20 movers and shakers of 2010.