Whether purchased new or used, a bike is an investment.  And yet so often we see bicycles looking like this:

[image credit: transportationnation.org]

[image credit: transportationnation.org]

Which is not how we imagine our bicycles will look when we first get them.  Here at Montague HQ we are of the simple philosophy of fold it up and take it inside; then your precious bicycle never has to meet such a sad fate.

Why do so many bikes end up like this?  Why are they left like this in the first place?

When a bicycle cannot be brought indoors, locking up outdoors is the usual approach.  Vandalism, thieves, damage, the elements – any of these can contribute to a bike being abandoned, an investment lost.  Sometimes something breaks, or the owner just loses the keys.  Transportation Nation, a group of public radio journalists out of New York that documents changing urban development, has done a series of articles on abandoned bikes in New York.  Their main starting premise was, why are there so many abandoned bikes in New York?  Why to they remain for so long?

The photos and abandoned bike map attest to a startlingly large number of abandoned bikes, even for a city so large.  The journalists at Transportation Nation found a very interesting answer; Alex Goldmark writes, the reason is a “complicated mix of bureaucracy, city law, NYC’s density — and [they] found something else.  New Yorkers just love to look at abandoned bikes. And to photograph them.”

From Abandoned to Derelict

New York City’s process for reporting abandoned bikes is accomplished through dialing 311 and filing what is formally a complaint.  These eventually are processed by the Department of Sanitation.  There is a long list of criteria which a reported bicycle must meet before it can be proclaimed derelict, and only then can the city remove it.  The amount of time it takes an abandoned bike to get into derelict condition can take years, and so prime bike parking gets taken by such sad cases as the bike pictured above.  The length of the process also helps ensure someone’s property is not claimed inappropriately.

Transportation Nation’s documentation efforts have been so successful that Washington, D.C. has taken it up, as well as Philadelphia running something similar.  As the number of cyclists increases, hopefully this will not become a more commonplace story.  Keep your investment safe, fold it up and take it indoors.  If the sight of abandoned bikes awakens your curiosity check out Transportation Nation’s art exhibit on just this topic.



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