Monday, November 7, 2011

Storing It for You

Storing it for You
Sometimes readers find it hard to believe when I describe being approached by random people who will comment about my bikes or cycling technique - especially to express concern or give advice. I wonder what you'll make of this note I found zip tied to a pole outside of a Starbucks this morning.

Storing it for You
You didn't lock your bike, so I'm storing it for you. If you want it back, leave your name & number with the Starbucks folks and I'l call you
I am thinking it reads kind of like a ransom note. Can't quite decide whether this is a good deed, or someone not minding their own business. I mean, what if the cyclist left it unlocked intentionally - hoping to get it stolen and buy a shiny new bike with the insurance payoff? I suppose the note could also be an innovative way to get a love interest's number. Or a secret communication channel for spies. Nothing to do with me or my bikes, but an example of what's within the realm of possibilities here in Boston.

62 comments:

  1. Peppy (the NJS-certified cat)November 7, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    I am storing your Mercian for you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have, on occasion, left my bike unlocked while I run in to drop off film at the film lab or something of the sort, which only takes a few minutes, and if I came back out to find someone was "storing" my bike for me, I'd be pretty annoyed. However, I think it's pretty unlikely that would happen in only a few minutes :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. A ransom note ineed! Amazing what criminal mind will dream up.

    ReplyDelete
  4. In Providence, it is illegal (but rarely enforced) to lock one's bike to a street sign. Late one night, a friend saw a DPW worker unscrew the bottom of a street sign pole, pull it out through the bike lock, then re-attach the sign to the ground, leaving the bike sitting next to it, locked to nothing. After asking the DPW worker what was going on (and getting the explanation about the little-known law), said friend took the bike into his home and left a note for the bike's owner. The bike's owner contacted him, properly identified the bike, and my friend returned it to him. The owner offered a cash reward to my friend, but my friend encouraged him to make a donation to the local bike co-op instead (recycle-a-bike). So... I'd chalk it up to good samaritanism. Like when I take pictures of barely-locked bikes. I'm just performing a public service.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm wondering what kind of bike this is now. Maybe I'll leave a number and ask for my custom Peter Mooney back, just in case that's what it is.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Portlandize, most bike thefts occur within "a few minutes." Think about it, if you watch the person dismount, you know they are less likely to "just show up."
    My library borrows bike locks out to patrons who forget theirs at home, but the sad truth is the time spent walking inside for a lock is enough for the bike to have been stolen.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Saturday a woman unattends her Seven, barges to the front of the coffee line, buys her beans. Never glances at her bike. I'm thinking, if she don't care, I don't care. She's wearing a smorgasbord of kit, including those Five Finger segmented toe things.

    Sunday I see the same woman with a different bike in a different neighborhood doing the same thing. I threw it on the back of my car, which conveniently has a rack for this situation, and yelled, "That's for barging!"

    What's the moral? Footwear that is designed to be worn on your hands can be detrimental to critical thinking.

    I could tell my unattended bike stolen while it was inside a Chinese restaurant but got it back story. I guess I just did.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I was hoping this was an article on bicycle storage! I'm having a tough time storing 2 bikes in my 1 bedroom apartment with plaster walls (not good for screws).

    ReplyDelete
  9. I vote for it being a dead drop. Leave your bike there. "The Falcon" will pick it up and give it back to you, except with a piece of microfilm cached in the seat tube. The instigator had ready access to zipties, cardboard and a sharpie; and it doesn't look like that note was written on the back of a knee either. Clearly premeditated. I mean, clearly.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I would not be happy to get that note. I always lock up (duh, I live in Baltimore), but even if I didn't for some reason, it's nobody else's business. What if they drove my bike to their house across town? What if they damaged it by crashing it or putting it into their car? If they really cared, they could have locked their bike to mine and locked them both on the sign (an inconvenience for me, but not as much as having to walk/bus to someone's house to get my own bike), or asked the Starbucks folks if they could store it in the back room. One adult trying to teach another a lesson is rarely a good idea.

    ReplyDelete
  11. At first I thought this was amazingly presumptuous. Or someone being strident and enforcing their beliefs in making a point about locking a bike.

    Then I thought of how upsetting it is to see an accident in progress or waiting to happen, and wanting to take some kind of action. This may be overly inconvenient (what if the samaritan is out of town when the owner checks in? what if the cyclist has someplace to be?) but maybe the samaritan did the best they could at the time? After all, one would probably be upset for a few minutes after finding such a note, but upset for a long time if coming back to no bike AND no note. Upset for how long if it was a Peter Mooney?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Something's rotten in Camberville.

    If you were the 'good samaritan' holding the bike for its rightful owner, wouldn't you have left YOUR phone number rather than have the owner be entirely at your mercy to contact him/her?

    I leave my bikes unlocked from time to time, but only when I can get a visual on it every minute or so.

    ReplyDelete
  13. That, my friend, is why I have a folding bike - I can unobtrusively take my bike *into* the coffee shop and not have to track down people who may or may not have walked off with my bike.
    -Will

    ReplyDelete
  14. my friend (stored) my other friends bike for a week to teach him a lesson for leaving his bike in his front yard. after returning the bike, said friend did get his bike really stolen while it was left in the front yard. lesson didn't stick, what can you do?

    ReplyDelete
  15. This one is easy. Call Starbucks and ask to be put in touch with this guy - but before that call the cops and tell them someone stole your bike, admitted to it, and let the police be there for the phone call. Stealing in the name of some benevolent cause (teaching me a lesson) is still stealing.

    ReplyDelete
  16. "or someone not minding their own business."

    With all the self-righteous cyclists out there I would not be surprised.
    Earlier this summer I found myself cycling behind this dude who spent his entire time lecturing everyone along the way. "what you're doing is not safe", "this is not the proper way to lock", "that bike of yours needs a tune-up", "you're not allowed to do that", "you should have waited for the light", "no! wait, now you can go", "your bike is to big for you", "hey you, your shoes are untied", "you do not have the proper tires" gna gna gna
    Fudge!

    I am not sure, if I were a criminal that I would ask the victim to leave contacts at the Starbucks for me to pick up later... Because, hum, should the ransom thing go bad, well tons of people wuold have seen my face or have my contacts.

    Probably some good Samaritain or some obnxious self righteous know-it-all who did his boyscout duty of the day.

    Spies have graduated from that a while ago :)
    As for the insurance scheme, you just planted a seed in my mind...

    ReplyDelete
  17. Anon 4:11 - I am trying to imagine a scenario whereby someone would just leave their Peter Mooney propped up against a sign post : )

    GR Jim - No, you didn't really do that! Also, are you saying that people *ride bikes* with those split toe things?... How? Or do they make a crazy clipless version of them?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Peppy (the amazing my bars start from my fork cat)November 7, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    I ride in special polydactyl cat shoes. I use toe straps AND clipless because my trainer says I need to for my powerpurrrrrr sprints.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I love riding my bike in my Five Fingers! So grippy...

    ReplyDelete
  20. Okay, I need to look into this!

    ReplyDelete
  21. William Blake Stephens - I guess what I don't get is, where does this need to "teach lessons" come from? If one is not a parent, guardian, or hired educator to the person in question then why not just leave them be and let them make whatever mistakes they choose to make?..

    ReplyDelete
  22. I wish I did. What a doofus, didn't even use the helmet around the frame/pole trick.

    I dare you to wear those toe gloves on a tweed ride.

    Peter Mooney was once stolen; his wife said, "go ahead and keep him". Taught him a lesson.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I'm embarrassed to say I have biked in FiveFingers (hurray Anon!). However, it is only when biking to running trails.

    Not an excuse, however. And they do scare me a bit, feel like I could stick a toe through the side of my toe clip and decapitate my toe on my chainring. Definitely not fixed gear friendly.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Found a picture of someone cycling in the 5 finger shoes. Crazy! Nice review of them here as well.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Reminds me of an episode of Arrested Development: "And that's why you don't teach lessons." Somebody could use THAT lesson.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Wait a minute, you can get insurance for a bike?! I wonder if the deductible and premiums would be worth the cost?

    ReplyDelete
  27. John ... both homeowners and renters property insurance covers bikes. It is -excellent- for guarding against theft or accidents and isn't a lot of money.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I don't know if it's common or not, but I seem to remember that our renters' insurance only covers our bikes if they are stolen from inside our apartment, which is not useful, since they are rarely inside our apartment.

    ReplyDelete
  29. twenty eight comments and only one person consider this as stealing?

    ReplyDelete
  30. Anon-It definitely has an icky feel. Highly disturbing, in some ways more so than "regular" bike theft, which at least doesn't have a "freaky person" component to it (unless you think of bike theft as drug habit fuel, I guess).

    ReplyDelete
  31. Back in the 70's when people used to take a water break during a century and enjoy a puff on their pipe I never said "Be carefull you don't start a fire."

    When those guys with the shiny legs used to leave thier tires by the side of the road I never said "It's really easy to patch these with a patch kit and a needle and thread. My mom showed me how."

    If this hero/thief wasn't an a** tweet they could simply lock the bike properly and leave the key at the coffee shop if it mattered that much.

    There was a bike near my work that looked reasonably new, and poorly locked, remove the wheel, snip or unscrew a few spokes, and voila one overpriced hybrid, ready for craigslist.

    I put a note on a piece of tape that said "your bike will be stolen if you keep it locked like this, lots of know-it-all cyclists will be happy to help if you cant figure it out." Then I wrapped the tape around the lock.

    I really don't want bike thiefs to start telling thier friends that its easy pickings on my street.

    Oh and the guy with simian leg warmers and simian shoes riding the Giant (linked above). He is going to wreck his ankles and his knees both if he keeps it up with that pedaling technique. I am, however, confident that some well meaning self congradulatory person will come to his rescue.

    I dont need someone to buy me a cup of cofee at Starbucks and tell me what a steller guy I am. I already know.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Nothing worse than a creepy, self-righteous person. I agree with MHL that the owner of that bike should follow the routine for its return, but via the police, and then press charges for theft.

    ReplyDelete
  33. 1. Leave the phone number of the local police precinct with the Starbucks with instructions that if they have a hard time reaching you, to leave _their_ number. Leave your number with the desk sergeant just in case he drops it off there.
    2. If you arrange to meet, go get your bike with some unannounced company, *BIG* company. No need to bring bats or chain whips, but dressing down to some sweats and watch caps would send the message that you aren't afraid of soiling your clothes if it got down to it.

    It sounds like a scam of some kind...

    ReplyDelete
  34. Liberty Mutual renter's insurance covered my ANT when I was hit by a car. It also covered another friend's Marin when she got t-boned near Harvard Square. I am also pretty sure that their policy indicated that theft in a public space was covered as well.

    ReplyDelete
  35. This may be a naive question, but when these policies cover theft how do they check whether the owner used reasonable locking precautions?

    ReplyDelete
  36. One day my front light was jostled out of its holder in the middle of an extremely busy and pothole-ridden intersection. I decided not to try to risk my life to get it back, and since I had a spare back light in my bag, I stuck it on the front and rode off to do my errands. I parked my bike outside, and when I came back someone had written a note saying, "RED in BACK. WHITE in FRONT. Confusion causes ACCIDENTS!" Although I intended to replace the front light pretty much immediately, I was so annoyed with the note, I put it off until a week later.

    Passive-aggressive note-writing is always a bad form of communication, and rarely achieves the desired results.

    ReplyDelete
  37. @Dominique, Have a look at Gear Up Storage. http://www.thegstand.com/floor_to_ceiling_bike_racks Not sure if it's available in the States (Australian website) but it's aesthetically pleasing in a restricted place.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Oh wow, I'm amazed people read this as bike-napping, I'd see it as a (slightly off-kilter perhaps) attempt at doing someone a favour, maybe by someone who lost their bike when they left it unlocked and didn't want to see someone else suffer the same fate. OK, maybe a little presumptious - but I have on occasions left my own bike unlocked and come back in an utter panic, once to find it still there and still unlocked and once to find that my occasional commuting buddy had locked his bike onto mine knowing he'd be there to release it when I needed it. I've also found a set of keys left dropped in the street and done exactly the same thing - take them into protective custody and leave a note explaining how I could be contacted. I don't see how it's any different doing it to a bike (though I agree, leave a phone no. if you're going to do this)

    ReplyDelete
  39. My cannondale mountain bike was stolen out of a garage at my work workplace, theives broke into the office also and wrecked the place. My State Farm home owners policy covered the bike minus the $500 deductible, and they do not insure the work buildings. I also consider your story theft. Theives may have stolen the unlocked bike, but now it is gone for sure. How will the owner get to work home important meeting etc?

    ReplyDelete
  40. townmouse - I can see it being either or, and that's why I was curious to run it by others and see what they'd think. My own sense of skeptism is somewhat overdeveloped when it comes to things like this, but maybe I am just jaded.

    ReplyDelete
  41. As much as I love jogging and hiking in my Fivefingers, I've never tried riding a bike in them. Can't be worse than riding barefoot, which I've done in the summer after blowing out my flip flop (Jimmy Buffett never covered that one).

    My vote is for some new sort of bicycle-based pickup artistry, or maybe it's a mutual thing, like "leave a blue bike with no lock on the lamppost if you're into X" (I'm going to refrain from speculating what X is, not because of prudery, but because it could literally be ANYTHING these days).

    Or maybe it's just another self-righteous twerp. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  42. My mom taught me to not touch things that do not belong to you.

    ReplyDelete
  43. In my neighborhood kids leave their bikes, basketballs, etc. out in their yard for days. In theory I could do what this guy did. Guess how that would go over with the kids' parents?

    It doesn't matter that I had noble intentions - what matters is that I touched other people's stuff without their consent.

    The more I think about this the more I want to call the

    ReplyDelete
  44. Typical sanctimonious activist. What if taking this bike prevented the owner from getting to a job interview? Or prevented the user from seeing his dying mother's last moments in the hospital? This "do-gooder" should be arrested.

    ReplyDelete
  45. what if the owner returned to the bike parking spot after hours and Starbucks was already closed. Then he/she would have to wait until the store re-opened again in the morning. I hope this "thief" doesn't expect a reward.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Holy cow. I'm surprised by the level of animosity here, especially the folks who think this is tantamount to stealing. A little odd, maybe but the intentions seem very clear--he was worried about this persons bike and decided to do something pro-active about it. Seems like a pretty kind, well-intentioned thing to do, albeit a little dorky. I'm presuming too that the bike is somewhere nearby (or he's actually a starbuck's employee) and not across town. My bf's bike got stolen this summer from the side of our house (he locked it poorly to a chain link fence instead of the porch) and since then he's definitely been a little more aware/concerned when we see a nice bike that's unlocked or badly secured. I can't see him "rescuing" a bike like this, but that's the impulseI see here--a little odd but basically benign.

    ReplyDelete
  47. This may be a naive question, but when these policies cover theft how do they check whether the owner used reasonable locking precautions?

    They don't. They'll probably ask, but then they'll take your answer on faith, and if your claims profile shows that you don't make frequent claims, they assume you're honest. If you claimed a bike every year, that might send a warning. I had a renter's policy for nine years and never once made a claim. I'm sure if I made one, they'd pay out without question. If I made another claim a few months later, they may ask more stringent questions-- and I suspect my premium would skyrocket.

    Now that I own a house and have owner's insurance, I don't know how the details differ regarding theft that occurs off-property. I know that the deductible is higher.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I am another one of those crazy people that ride in Five Fingers sometimes. I use them with regular pedals, no toe clips or straps. They are great in spring/summer, and safer than flip flops.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Agree, Sarah. The logical assumption is that the person has benevolent intentions. Thieves don't leave notes...seriously who would ransom a bike? That seems way too risky when there's a big seller's market for bikes on craigslist in this area, where if I'm the thief I am at a much lower risk of dealing with the original owner and possibly the cops.

    So maybe the person is a busybody. Sure, it's none of their business. But I can't believe people are actually suggesting having the person arrested for what he/she clearly thinks is a benevolent act. It may be legal, but it's cruel. Give them a stern talking to maybe, but having them arrested? Crazy.

    ReplyDelete
  50. This reminds me of when we were building our house 35 years ago. I was doing my own wiring, and after a long day took off my tool belt, hung it on a nail and had a beer or two. I left to go home, forgetting the tool pouch with about $150.00 worth of tools. By the time I remembered and went back to retrieve my tools they were gone! The following morning I went back, still fuming, and here comes a little kid about nine or ten flying down the street with my tools swinging from his handlebars. “Mister! You forgot these yesterday, and I didn’t want anyone to steal them.” That kid is in his forties now, and still a good friend.

    ReplyDelete
  51. @Sarah, you have the George W Bush kind of 'logic'. There is an infinite number of ways to exercise well-intention deed without first breaking the law.

    ReplyDelete
  52. "This may be a naive question, but when these policies cover theft how do they check whether the owner used reasonable locking precautions?"

    Depends on the country I suppose. Here in The Netherlands we've got various insurance agencies for bikes (apparently almost 195 different policies!). Most look at the area you live in and the price of the bike.
    Every insurance company needs both of the keys, of which one needs to show wear through usage, of an ART-certified lock. http://www.stichtingart.nl/template.asp?pid=190
    You get a lower insurance premium if the bike was 'chipped' with a special RFID-chip (DPC) which makes recovering your bike easier if it is ever stolen and found by the police.

    If the bike was stored in a shed or apartment basement without being locked, they will most likely redirect you to your home insurance company.

    P.s. If all of this sounds excessive to you, keep in mind this is for a country with more biciycles than people of which 5% yearly has their bike stolen. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  53. I think this could be a clever way for a thief to cover themselves if they are caught stealing a bike in a busy place. As someone above noted, the neat writing and zip tie suggest pre-meditation. Imagine a thief hanging around in front of the store. They see a bike left for the picking. They walk over, put the sign up, and ride off. If they are caught at any point, by the owner, the police or a passerby, they just go point to the sign and hopefully get let off, and maybe even thanked.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Ooh that would be so sinister : (

    ReplyDelete
  55. So maybe arrest him for good intentions that violated a bicycle owners personal property. Arrest him for potential unintended consequences, or for not minding his own business.

    ReplyDelete
  56. I find it suspicious that the do-gooder is looking for the bike owners phone number rather than giving his own. The bike its self and the neighborhood it was parked in gives some idea of affluence, I'm guessing it was a nice bike, then he gets the name and phone number, if the person is a bit free with personal details it is not too hard to find out where they live. Then arrange for a meeting, perhaps at the Starbucks. Armed with address and a specific time and date that the person will not be at home.....you can guess the rest.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Oh good Lord--because I don't think this guy should be arrested for bike stealing, now I'm George W. Bush? chortle...

    ReplyDelete
  58. My administration was always consistent in opposing bicycle theft.

    Geo W. Bush

    ReplyDelete
  59. What is the likelyhood that this "do-gooder" practices his/her hobby in the rougher parts of town?; where the nearest business is not Starbucks but a biker bar. I love this topic!

    ReplyDelete
  60. Huh, in the city I live in... if you turn your back for a second, the bike will be stolen. I mean literally turn your back.. you don't even need to leave the area.. and forget locking your bike with anything other than a U-Lock.. people carry chain cutters around with them. I was talking to a fellow the otherday who locked his bike up with a woven steel lock and went in a shop to grab a coffee, when he came back outside his bike was gone, the lock left cut. Someone had told him as soon as he went into the store they witnessed the theft. Sad times.

    ReplyDelete