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Old 07-08-06, 05:35 PM   #1
Jerseysbest
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Ethical to take an abadoned bike? According to The NY Time Magizine ethicist, yes.

I know, this subject has been brought up here before, but interesting to see another source on the matter...

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A bicycle locked to a pole near my house was untouched through the fall and winter. When spring came, I balanced the lock so it would be in a different position if the bike were moved. It wasn't. Eventually I broke the lock and now ride the bike almost daily. Was it ethical to steal something that had clearly been abandoned by its owner?
KATE CLIFFORD, PHILADELPHIA

It's not that it was ethical to "steal" it; you didn't steal it. You claimed abandoned property, and no reason not to.

The trick is determining if something is in fact abandoned. There are an awful lot of cars stashed by the curb with nobody near them. To your credit, you show due diligence. You observed the bike for nearly a year and used a cunning spy-movie trick to see if it had been ridden when you weren't around. And all city dwellers know that bikes are sometimes leashed to poles and left to fend for themselves. What's more, you did you neighbors a service by removing what had been a nuisance.

Here in New York, the police respond similarly to complaints about an abandonedd bike. In some precints, according to Noah Budnick of Transportation Alternatives, "if the bike is damaged or shows signs of obvious disuse, the police will tag it with a notice saing that the bike will be removed in two weeks if it is not moved. After two weeks, the officers return usually with Department of Sanitation agents, and if the bike is unmoved, they clip the lock and cart the bike away." In this, they and you act ethically.
Can't say I disagree, especially if someone gets use out an otherwise dumpster destined bike.
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Old 07-08-06, 05:41 PM   #2
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In my town a guy I know found a working abandoned bike and told the police. They said to put an ad in the paper and if no one claims it in 30 days he could keep it. He has been riding it about a year to his work, the place he found it.
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Old 07-08-06, 05:42 PM   #3
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Interesting take. Are you sure you can qualify the bike as being abandoned, though. Were I to abandon a bike, I doubt I waste a good lock to hold it in place. I do think the City would be justified in hauling it off after a certain period of time. They will eventually do the same with an auto.
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Old 07-08-06, 06:16 PM   #4
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Working at a university, I have "rescued" a number of abandoned bikes, and even re-sold them after refurbishing. A couple are still in daily use around campus.

I always try to establish ownership. Frequently the bike will be "registered" with us (the campus police). If so, I can contact the owner at home and see if junior is still planning to use the bike, or whatever. (Each year, after the students leave for the Summer, they post notices that abandoned bikes in the dorm areas will be removed anyway.
Sometimes, you can get a bike shop sticker on the frame, and better shops will often be able to tell you the last purchaser. I have actually returned a few "recovered" bikes to the proper owner this way.

I look for machines that are clearly abandoned; unlocked, rusty chains, flat tires, etc. These bikes are destined for the dumpster anyway, but occasionally you'll find something worth saving.
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Old 07-08-06, 07:24 PM   #5
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Eh, I still think there's a difference between a random individual just taking abandoned property, and that person contacting the police / streets dept / other responsible agency. I would be pissed if I were out of town or whatever for a while and my bike were just taken, but I'd be less pissed if I found out the streets dept confiscated it (even if they gave it to someone else) because I'd violated ordinance 534987 "don't leave crap locked to city property for more than 2 weeks"....
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Old 07-08-06, 07:24 PM   #6
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A Buddhist would say: "Take only that which has been freely offered." I guess that would exclude even this case as it was described.
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Old 07-08-06, 08:41 PM   #7
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"don't leave crap locked to city property for more than 2 weeks"....
Um... the bike in question was locked to the same pole, unmoved for close to a year.

My question however, is WHY would someone abandon a bike? I can understand a car, they can be worthless and cost many thousands in repair anyway and impossible to move without incurring additional tow fees. But a bike? Sell it for $10, toss it in a dumpster, but to just leave it seems silly.
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Old 07-08-06, 09:03 PM   #8
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I live in a college town and usually take my afternoon walks around campus. There are a number of bikes here that have not been touched in months, except by me when I pick them up when they have fallen over. I can't stand to see them laying on the ground. Most are junk, but there is a Trek 820, fairly new, thats been in the same place since January. It's now July. Next to it is a generic bike that has been around for quite a while. The only other bike worth taking home is a Giant Rincon that has been untouched since December. This is the one that keeps falling over, since the tires have fallen right off the rims. All of these bikes are chained to bike racks. I've thought of calling the campus police to see what their policy is, but I just don't feel good taking something I haven't paid for.
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Old 07-08-06, 09:25 PM   #9
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I saw this a lot on military bases, as well. Someone gets transferred and just doesn't bother to take the bike. Once the tire rot off, the military police just removed them. Ok, usually they removed them before they quite got to that point.

Happens a lot anywhere there's temporary housing like a campus or barracks... I dunno, even if I couldn't take the bike, I'm sure I could find someone to give it to. (And have, in the past) And why they leave it locked is beyond me... maybe they think they just MIGHT get back into town sometime and claim it?

I saw several bikes around bases that were nothing more than rusted out frames locked to racks, all the parts that were removable had been removed.
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Old 07-09-06, 07:23 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slowandsteady
Um... the bike in question was locked to the same pole, unmoved for close to a year.

My question however, is WHY would someone abandon a bike? I can understand a car, they can be worthless and cost many thousands in repair anyway and impossible to move without incurring additional tow fees. But a bike? Sell it for $10, toss it in a dumpster, but to just leave it seems silly.
There are lots of potential reasons. If someone is traveling from a long way away to go to school, it's cheaper to leave an inexpensive bike than to bring it home. If one loses a key and goes to a locksmith the price might be more than the value of the bike. Some college students are not using their own money, and just don't care.

A friend of mine worked on a huge ship and left his cheap bike chained to the inside of the ship for anyone to use. It was much more than the price of the bike to bring it home on a plane. About a year later he got assigned to the same ship and it was right were he left it. He still had a key so he just started riding it again. He's going to try and do it again !
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Old 07-09-06, 07:32 AM   #11
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I wish they would remove the abandoned bikes more frequently where I live. At times, the good lock up places all seem taken by rusting hulks with rotted tires. If I saw one that I actually wanted, I would ask the police to remove it and ask I could keep it or see when the bike auction for the year is.
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Old 07-09-06, 05:18 PM   #12
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I've watched a bike that is locked to a pole slowly get destroyed over the last week or two. First the front wheel got tacoed. Then the back wheel was stolen. No the front wheel has been stolen, as well as the saddle and seat tube. Eventually the frame will disappear.

I've seen it happen more than once to a bike left locked up. Always some cheap bike-- a Huffy in this case-- that slowly gets destroyed over the weeks. Makes me think somebody's locking them up intentionally, to document the destruction, like a demented art project.
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Old 07-09-06, 07:24 PM   #13
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Check out this website about abandoned bicycles
http://jschumacher.typepad.com/photo...kes/index.html
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Old 07-09-06, 07:25 PM   #14
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You'll also see what type locks work in New York City
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Old 07-10-06, 06:40 AM   #15
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There's a pool and baseball diamond complex near where I live and there are always abandoned bikes there. There's a Schwinn single-speed commuter that's been sitting on the bike rack for a week now, unchained. Before that, there was a BMX bike and a hardtail, leaning on the tennis court fence. Kids eventually took these to the ball field and crashed into each other playing chicken. The bikes ended up in a mud puddle for a month or so before something was done with them.

I have no use for these bikes but I can't understand how somebody could ride to the pool then forget to ride back home. Then forget where they left the bike. Strange.
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Old 07-10-06, 12:44 PM   #16
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Makes me think somebody's locking them up intentionally, to document the destruction, like a demented art project.
Actually, you are almost right. The police have been known to perform sting operations by putting bikes out to be stolen.
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Old 07-10-06, 03:12 PM   #17
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I still think it's stealing. But then I've found fault with Mr. Cohen's logic a few times.

Had the party notified the city of an abandoned bike and then bought it at auction after siezure, THEN I'd think otherwise.
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Old 07-10-06, 08:05 PM   #18
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So if I deploy overseas for 6 months on military duty, and the bicycle wheels do not fit through the submarine hatch (not to mention the lack of space on a submarine); it is OK for someone to take my locked bicycle, as long as they balance the lock to confirm that I have not ridden my bicycle for the last 5 months before they steal it. Maybe they can do the same with my car, house and furniture, too.
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Old 07-10-06, 10:25 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by CB HI
So if I deploy overseas for 6 months on military duty, and the bicycle wheels do not fit through the submarine hatch (not to mention the lack of space on a submarine); it is OK for someone to take my locked bicycle, as long as they balance the lock to confirm that I have not ridden my bicycle for the last 5 months before they steal it. Maybe they can do the same with my car, house and furniture, too.
Check your local laws, but it's usually illegal to store private property on public property for months on end... if you leave your bike chained on the street while you're serving overseas and you expect it to be there when you get back, you're being unreasonable. You wouldn't store your car and your furniture on city property while travelling, would you? No, you'd get a garage and a storage unit. So why should you expect to store your bike on city property?
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Old 07-11-06, 01:12 AM   #20
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yea...*****!
I served...was in during Desert Storm...my bike was transered BEFORE i left...then I told the MPs of my new duty station that i was leaving...not a probem...
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Old 07-11-06, 01:14 AM   #21
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yea...*****!
I served...was in during Desert Storm...my bike was transered BEFORE i left...then I told the MPs of my new duty station that i was leaving...not a probem...

where ***** = Bhitch or *****yir or *****jumpingortylim
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Old 07-11-06, 01:15 AM   #22
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...or ByIyTYcyH...or BIT..CH...or...B....I...T...C...H...
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Old 07-11-06, 05:48 AM   #23
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The way I see it, the bulk of those posting are just trying to justify "stealing" a bike. Nowhere do I read anyone say they would donate the bike to a charity or re-distribute the bike to others less fortunate other than themselves. Get over it, if you want to steal the bike, go ahead, I just hope for your sake the person that left it there isn't finishing up his jail term & just looking forward to getting out & riding his bike that was chained up to the....

And I hope he doesn't recognized his old bike while you're riding it.
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Old 07-11-06, 08:25 AM   #24
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I stole my bike from unpriviledged orphans. They cried at first, but they got over it.
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Old 07-11-06, 08:54 AM   #25
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I stole my bike from unpriviledged orphans. They cried at first, but they got over it.

Exactly. If orphans DESERVED nice things, wouldn't they have parents?
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