Bicycle Diaries: Security - my present obsession

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7.8.06

Security - my present obsession

As I've written earlier, Chicago is Number 3 after NYC and LA for bike theft. Since moving here in 2000, I've been an unwilling contributor to that statistic three times.

In 2003, My 1957 Raleigh Robin Hood was locked to a bike stanchion at Wells and Hill during a job interview. The bike was fine when I came out but the Cateye lights and two travel notebooks were swiped. Although I lost some good writing notes, I counted myself lucky. I figure it must have been some of the high school kids from Walter Payton High School which is just across the street.

In 2005, while I was in Nigeria for two weeks, I locked up my Riding Hood in the basment of my building. When I got back it was gone. That really pissed me off particularly since I thought it would be secure. Several folks moved out of my building while I was gone so I think one of them may have taken it along with their stuff. This may sound paranoid but I only learned afterwards that a Riding Hood in good condition like mine is rather valuable.

Last Wednesday, I was working at O'Hare for Youth for Understanding. I usually ride my 1961 Raleigh Gazelle to the Montrose Blue Line Stop then take the train to the airport. It has bike stanchions about 10 feet in front of the turnstiles.

If you don't know the Blue Line, it runs between the north- and south-bound lanes of the Dan Ryan. The station is out in the open underneath Montrose. There are stairs that run down to the station on either side of Montrose. A platform then connects both sets of stairs under Montrose.

Given the neigborhood, it gets pretty dicey down there late at night. So when I came back at midnight my bike was still there (whew!) but all of the safety equipment as well as a set of tools were gone. What the bastard(s) totally missed was my reconditioned Brooks leather saddle hidden beneath a ratty saddle cover. None of the stuff cost much money. I had built up my tool kit from gifts and yard sales. I had gotten the lights at Working Bikes And I had found online this nifty reflective safety triangle for the rear basket.

Again, I counted myself lucky. Most bike experts will tell you the more peripherals you have the higher the chances they'll get stolen. But this latest rip-off really pissed me off. Even though none of the stuff was worth very much I had to ride several miles home at 1am without any safety equipment. Moreover, the beater condition of bikes parked under Montrose seems to show that like me, their owners are working at the airport at low hourly wages. Most, if not all, salaried folks drive to the airport. Just look at the size of employee parking. So when a bike gets ripped-off or vandalized under Montrose their owners (and me) don't have the extra cash to deal with it.

So this weekend, instead of bemoaning my victimhood, I installed two homemade bike stanchions in the courtyard behind my apartment. A neighbor and another friend gave me two metal bars which I screwed onto either side of a post supporting the back porch.

Now when I park my bike there I lock it up with a Kryptonite U-lock AS WELL AS a Master handcuffs lock.

I'm still debating how many peripherals I'll put on my bike %)

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2 Comments:

Blogger Marshall said...

Sorry to hear about your losses. It's hard to believe another cyclist just happened to come across your bike, so your peripherals were probably stolen by someone just to annoy you.

It's a hassle, but any time I lock up my bike I take off my lights and throw them in my backpack. They slide right off their mounts so I know someone would fine it easy to swipe them.

Good luck, and ride safe!

7/8/06 12:22  
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