By Christine Middleton
If you’ve ever owned a bike in New York City, you understand the implicit agreement between the city and its cyclists: your bike will, eventually, get stolen. Hopefully by the time it happens you’ve already had a long and fulfilling relationship and you’re ready to move on to a new partner. With that in mind, every time I return to find my bike where I left it and intact, I consider it a small victory.
I loved my first bike in the city. It was the first bike I bought for myself as an adult, and my first road bike. I didn’t have a lot to spend on a bike, so I took the subway and then a bus all the way out to Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn (if you don’t know the city, that’s way out there) to go to a used bike shop that some guy was running out of his basement. The trip was worth it though because I completely fell for this adorable, old, light blue women’s road bike. My boyfriend at the time affectionately nicknamed it my battle tank because it wasn’t particularly light and after I added rear baskets, it definitely didn’t look like it was made for speed. And it wasn’t- but it did get me and all of my stuff wherever we needed to go.
Usually if I left in the morning with my bike, it came home with me that night. However one night, as occasionally happened, I decided to leave my bike and take the subway home in the interest of public safety. I had my U-lock around the frame, the front wheel, and a solid metal street sign, which I deemed safe enough and we parted ways.
When I returned the next day, my bike being gone was sad, but not very surprising. What I had not anticipated was the street sign that I had locked it to was also gone, along with the entire sidewalk that the street sign had been firmly attached to. Not knowing what else to do I went to the nearest police station, which didn’t provide any answers. But at their suggestion, I returned to the torn-up sidewalk and wandered around until I found a construction worker, and inquired about the now-missing street sign. Apparently luck was on my side that day because the man led me into a nearby building where my trusty bike was waiting. They had slid the bike off the street sign so the lock was still intact, and I rode away as though nothing had happened.
My pretty blue bike was inevitably stolen a couple of years later, and has now been replaced by a red bike which my new boyfriend has affectionately nicknamed the red rhino (I have a tendency to buy heavy bikes). But I will always remember the day when I became one of the fortunate few to be reunited with a lost bike in New York City.