[Gawker] If your lock gets cut and your bike disappears in midtown Manhattan, you should call the cops. Not because you need to report the crime—because there’s a good chance the cops stole the bike themselves.
I first heard about this practice from my friend Kevin Kenkel, an employee at New York’s Museum of Art and Design, who rides his bike from Williamsburg to his office in Midtown Manhattan nearly every weekday. When he went to retrieve it on the evening of September 4, it was gone.
The bike, which was locked to a street sign on Broadway between 58th Street and Columbus Circle, had been seized by the NYPD, but Kevin had no way of knowing that—the officer who’d taken it left no notice. A security guard at the museum suggested that Kevin check the police department’s Midtown North precinct, nearby on West 54th Street. He stopped by that evening, and it was there.
The police, it seems, are in the habit of clipping locks and confiscating ostensibly legally-parked bikes in the area. An officer on duty told Kevin that the bike renters who swarm Columbus Circle regularly steal bicycles, and that police will sometimes preemptively seize them as a preventative measure. “He explained that the bike guys are stealing and selling to tourists, and so the police, in order to crack down on that, are just removing any bicycle that’s locked to city property,” Kevin told me. “Any bike that’s not locked up to a bike rack. And there are no bike racks near my office.”
Hey Kevin, I’m no genius but it sure seems like maybe you should stop riding your fucking bike to work! This is pure, vintage bicyclist right here. Remember back in the day when you wanted to get something done? Like, say, have a bike rack installed outside your building? You might petition the city, or petition your office. It might be a little bit of work on your part, but hey, chaining your bike to city property is illegal, so it’s just the right thing to do. Remember those days? Remember them?
Well, they’re dead and gone, apparently. At least to bicyclists. After all, why try to do something that might actually address the problem you seem to be having when you could just whine about it to the media and get your 15 minutes of fame?
But of course, the larger point here is that bicyclists yet again show that they think they’re above the law. Sure, locking your bike to a parking meter is ILLEGAL, but surely that doesn’t mean the cops have the right to actually ENFORCE that law, does it? The constant state of incredulity associated with the bicyclist mindset is just unfathomable to normal people like you and me. “What right do the police have to enforce the law!” cry hordes of bicyclists, tears streaming down their faces as the rain beats down. “What right have they to take my bike! For I am of the immortal cabal of bicyclists to whom the laws of man apply not!”
In a way, I almost feel bad for them. When I was five years old, I saved up six whole dollars from my allowance. I was happy. I was proud. But it wasn’t enough. I wanted more. So I got myself a piece of paper and a green colored pencil and I drew myself some more dollars. I was rich. Rich! Until my mother sat down and explained to me that this is called “counterfeiting,” and the real world doesn’t quite work like that. I was devastated. I felt like a fool. I wept salty tears of dismay, the sort of tears one cries when they discover how the real world works for the first time.
This is what I imagine everyday life is like for bicyclists. One cruel discovery after another. When I read about a bicyclist getting arrested for biking under the influence, I truly believe that they have no idea that such a thing is illegal. When I read about one being busted for possession, I honestly don’t think they understand that it is not acceptable to carry a brick of cocaine around just because they’re on a bicycle.
The real world is a harsh place. I learned that when I was a small child, but the bicyclist mindset makes it clear that not everyone does. And unfortunately for bicyclists, this realization is very much like the chicken pox: if you miss out as a child, it’s going to be that much worse when it happens as an adult.