Beware of bike bandits
September 14, 2007
A bicycle can be a student’s best friend. Most of us live by them. If you don’t own one, buy one soon. If you own a car, sell it, then buy a couple hundred bicycles instead.
p. On campus, a bike will take you anywhere in half the speed of a car and twice the speed of a pedestrian. Bikes are smart and capable of steering you across campus with great efficiency, speed and precision. Unlike your average set of legs or most four-door automobiles, every bike promises you wind in your face and hair, bringing you back to that feeling of sugary childhood bliss.
Bikes are environmentally friendly, use a renewable resource for fuel, and consume anywhere from 15 to 62 calories to the half-mile, all body mass indices considered. Bikes work wonders on one’s legs and, when considered in conjunction with our terrain of snaggle-tooth bricks and unforgiving hills, they build character of the knee and promote ankle, calf, quadricep, and ligamental fortitude.
p. But bikes are an endangered species at the College. They are a lucrative commodity along Richmond Road, often taken viciously in broad daylight by junkies or secretly stolen at night by passerby tourists. I have good reason to suspect the campus police in having a hand behind the bike theft game, breaking them down and selling their parts back to us at a bargained price. But this is neither here nor there.
p. The truth is that most bikes are stolen by the students themselves, and here we must pause. Sure, we’ve all bike-hopped before (bike-hopping is when you borrow an unlocked bike in order to get to class on time), but we always return the borrowed bike, or at least refrain from trading it at Dis ’n’ That.
I don’t blame bike theft on the bike-jacker, but on an owner’s bastardly neglect. Like so many students, I am an unfaithful bike owner, going through bikes like I would ex-wives. It took me four thefts in eight months to make this connection: if you leave your bikes unlocked, chances are they’ll get lifted.
p. We need to be more conscious of our belongings, because, let’s face it, people steal. People steal so often, you wonder if stealing is so bad after all. So, for the sake of cheese, lock your bikes already. Lock your dorm rooms, while you’re at it. Invest in bike alarms and GPS systems, and don’t be afraid of spending a dollar or two. Most locks break apart after a couple months. What you need is one of those locks developed by NASA that are nearly impossible to open with the key and cost more than the bike itself.
p. When locking a bike, avoid railings and thin tree boughs, and make sure to lock the front tire with its frame. Most importantly, learn to care for your bike. Take her inside when it rains. Lube her chain when it gets dry. Give her a name. Currently, my ride is a Schwinn Ranger 2.6. Her name is Lucille.
p. Register your bike right now at the police station. When visiting them earlier, I found that every bike has its very own serial number. This number is so unique that even bikes of the same make and model don’t share it. The registration process involves filling out a form the size of a standard envelope. They are always available to provide continual surveillance of your bike. After registering, you get a shiny sticker tacked to your bike. This lets people know you’re with a crew. It tells people, “Fuck with me. See what happens.” And if a registered bike is stolen, perpetrators are tracked down within seconds, their rights stripped and their asses arrested for larceny.
p. If you don’t own a bike, own one soon, but invest wisely. Don’t buy anything under $100 or over $140. Make sure to get one with a cool name, like Soldier Torrent AMG or Infinity Turbo 2.0 or Ultralight Thunder Discharge.
p. If, for some reason, you’re not in a position to afford a bike of your own, the College and I recommend that you try the bike rental services at the University Center. This service allows you to take a bike off the rack and just ride. All you have to do is sign a waiver, as — with their cement tires and lead frames — the bikes are medieval in their constitutions. To prevent theft, each bike comes with a lock and a student has 24 hours before he is fined $10 in late fees. The program is inspired by Amsterdam’s experimental white-bicycle scheme of the 1960s, which, unfortunately for them, relied upon honesty and didn’t involve locks.
p. __Sherif Abdelkarim is a junior at the College.__