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  1. #1
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Free Bikes?-Some Toronto Residents Appear To Abandoned Their Bikes Forever

    I have written extensively about bike theft over the years on Bike Forums and elsewhere on and offline. I have written from experience as I either had my bikes attempted to be stolen or actually stolen never to be seen or heard from again. I have now converted to only owning and using folding bikes because of these experiences. My limited contact with law enforcement about these same incidents reinforced my beliefs that not only bike thief is on the rise, but lax enforcement of it seem to encourage it as bikes are becoming more and more valuable. Or are they everywhere. Apparently not so in Toronto as this article in today's newspaper seems to indicate:


    The Fixer: College St. a boulevard of broken bikes
    http://www.thestar.com/news/fixer/article/887218--the-fixer-college-st-a-boulevard-of-broken-bikes
    November 07, 2010

    by Jack Lakey


    ".....Abandoned bicycles are plentiful on downtown streets, including these three derelict bikes, locked to the same post at 579 College St.
    JACK LAKEY/TORONTO STAR
    Bicycle abandonment seems to be an epidemic on downtown streets, where dozens of cyclists are locking up bikes and leaving them to rust.

    On Saturday, we reported on our test of 550 bicycle locking posts to see if they could be lifted out of their base, allowing a bike to be stolen, and found only two that failed.

    It involved a lot of tugging on posts and looking at bikes locked to them, many of which had clearly been abandoned, particularly on Queen St. W. and College St.

    We spotted an astounding 31 derelict bikes locked to posts on College, between Bathurst St. and Ossington Ave., and easily another dozen on Queen, between University and Spadina Aves.

    We’ve previously done stories about abandoned bikes and know they are plentiful, but even we were staggered by the volume, and the number of posts needlessly taken up by them.

    We started our test on Lake Shore Blvd. W. and Queen E. in the Beach, and saw only a few, but as we worked our way along Queen West, we spotted a lot more than we figured on.

    When we got to College we started keeping track and counted eight on the north side and 23 on the south side, including three locked to one post at 579 College.

    The signs of abandonment are obvious: Chains that are rusty or falling off, rust on other metal parts, soft or flat tires, missing parts and a coating of street grime.

    It’s a mystery why so many people are locking and walking, and does not reflect well on the cycling community, which sees itself as righteous tenants of the high ground on transportation-related issues.

    If upwards of 50 car drivers abandoned rusty vehicles in prime downtown parking spaces, a lot of cyclists would be outraged.

    STATUS: Dan Egan, who’s in charge of cycling infrastructure, said there’s some reluctance on the part of city staff to cut the lock on an abandoned bike and take it away; people have complained that their bike was mistaken for a derelict. Egan said someone will be sent to locate the bikes we found on Queen and College and tag them with notices that say they must be removed within a week or the city will get rid of them......"
    Last edited by folder fanatic; 11-09-10 at 09:13 PM.

  2. #2
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    I don't get locking up a bike you're abandoning. I have abandoned a couple, but I left them unlocked leaning against bike racks. Eventually someone has come along and taken them. A couple months ago I saw one bike that I'd abandoned repaired and locked outside a local pizza place. I was quite happy to see that bike again especially that someone had found it fixed it and started using it again as it was meant.

  3. #3
    Senior Member crazybikerchick's Avatar
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    Having formerly biked in downtown Toronto I offer these observations:
    1. Many people whether because theft is really bad or they are quite neglectful of basics like oil ride bikes that appear abandoned
    2. Bike vandalism and parts theft is rampant so someone may steal parts off a locked bike and then it appears abandoned.
    3. Many people do not intend to abandon their bikes but perhaps because of lack of storage space in their apartment use the outdoor bike posts to lock a bike they seldom (but occasionally) use.

    Particularly people that aren't smart enough to realize they should not leave their bike on the street over the winter, they don't ride in winter, it gets all gummed up, they may come back in spring, realize they've misplaced their keys, and cutting their lock off when they see the state of their bike does not seem worth it.

  4. #4
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Maybe the city needs to invent the same kind of green sticker they use here for abandoned cars.

    I've been to Toronto a number of times and see a horde of older Supercycle bikes u-locked to parking meters. I just figured it was a permanent parking spot. Difference between that and abandonment. As cuog above says, you tend not to both u-locking bikes you are abandoning. The u-lock is probably worth more than the bike and can certainly be re-used.

    Unless losing your u-lock key is rampant in Toronto .

  5. #5
    Senior Member zeppinger's Avatar
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    I am becoming more of a fan of bicycle registration everyday. It these bikes were registered and had a visible number on them the owners could be tracked down and fined. I realize a lot of the problems that that system might create too though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by folder fanatic View Post
    We spotted an astounding 31 derelict bikes locked to posts on College, between Bathurst St. and Ossington Ave., and easily another dozen on Queen, between University and Spadina Aves.
    I'm not familiar with that part of Toronto, but would guess from the street names that these locations are in the vicinity of a university. It's not uncommon for students to leave behind bicycles and assorted other belongings when they leave a university. And those bikes would almost always be left locked up just because that's how they were parked when last used. They weren't ridden there to be deliberately abandoned, but when the student started packing up to move there wasn't room for the bike, or they decided they didn't need or want it anymore - so they never retrieved the bike from its last parking spot.

    Many schools tag all bikes that look like they might be abandoned shortly after the end of the school year and then come around some time later and collect all tagged bikes that are still in the racks.

  7. #7
    Junior Member ebikeguru's Avatar
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    @zeppinger

    I am becoming more of a fan of bicycle registration everyday. It these bikes were registered and had a visible number on them the owners could be tracked down and fined.
    Whoa there Mr.Fine and Jail ! How about register the bike, then give the person a call if the bike is found or abandoned?? (remember it could have been stolen THEN abandoned! A quick call and I will come get it!

    All bikes are registered (i.e taxed) in Switzerland. All are also 3rd party insured with this registration. We have a Bike team in Luzern that goes around and removes abandoned bikes. These bikes are then given a little slap and tickle and are then re-sold in a regular bike-sale-event open to everyone in one of the town squares.

    I also have a friend whose stolen bike was returned by the police almost a year after it was taken because of the tax/registration sticker.

    Makes sense to me!
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    I live in a college town and abandoned bikes are quite common here too. Unfortunately the reason I see for a lot of derelict bikes is that something very simple broke, like a tire went flat or a shifter cable broke. and the spoiled kids just leave it instead of getting it fixed. Over the summer I found a mountain bike on the side of the road, I went and looked at it then went on my way. Two weeks later I came back and the bike was still there. What was wrong with it? The rear tire was flat. Thats when I went home picked up my tire repair kit and walked back. I fixed the flat and rode it to the bike library and donated it. Hopefully it was given to someone who will enjoy it.

    For other bikes I wish the police/ campus maintenance would have some protocol to follow during the school year. There is a bike rack that I would like to use but has 4 abandoned bikes locked to it with u- locks and half of the spots are taken.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Spudd's Avatar
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    Regarding the question of registration, you can register your bikes for free with the Toronto police department so that they will contact you if they find it. However, I would be violently opposed to adding additional registration. I think the method of tagging the bikes and then removing them after a week is fine, as long as this is broadly communicated (press release so it gets into the paper would be fine).

    I have noticed there are some bikes parked downtown that do look abandoned. If they're not abandoned then their owners REALLY don't care about bike maintenance.

  10. #10
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Interesting. I have often seen abandoned bikes locked up around town and I've always been puzzled by this. I notice many more in East Lansing (near the university) than in Lansing or the suburbs, so I'm leaning toward the theory that this is mostly a college student thing.


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  11. #11
    Senior Member crazybikerchick's Avatar
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    I know one person who abandoned a bike. Someone gave it to him for free (an old one they no longer used themself), and it didn't really suit him. I'm like so why don't you re-gift it to someone else? Perhaps it was thinking the gifter would be offended and it was better to tell the gifter it was stolen? At any rate he left it locked outside albeit with a cable lock and it disappeared in short enough order. I've known other casual cyclists to lock their bikes outside over winter and have a rather myah attitude towards retrieving them again.

    I suspect too that sometimes when someone returns to their bike to find parts stripped from it they really may not care too much to unlock the rest - if they weren't particularly attached to it in the first place.

  12. #12
    Not safe for work cyclokitty's Avatar
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    I rather dislike the people who lock up, then abandon their bikes along that stretch of College Street. Those rusted crapcycles hog prime bike parking space I like to use on a semi regularly basis during the year but I'm stuck locking my bike a block away from my destination because the ring and posts are occupied by rusted abandoned junk. I hope the city does snip the locks and haul off the crud. Most of them are broken frames with a rusted chain and maybe a wheel left on it.

    I saw a young man abandon his Canadian Tire $79 supercycle mountain bike on one of the bike racks next to my apartment building. I didn't know at the time he was going to do that but the same bike hasn't budged for 2 years and is slowly falling apart next to several other of it's fellow orphans. Which explains why I don't leave my bike outside locked to the racks. A few of the slightly better bikes have been stripped for parts and I'm sure my well cared for bike would be nice pickings. I'd rather tick people off bringing my bike up and down on the elevators.


  13. #13
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    At UofI at the end of the year they put a sticker/note on the bikes about a week after classes end. All bikes that have not been acknowledged are removed. From what I understand they do this on a regular basis in places like the Netherlands periodically too to clear up sorely needed rack space at the train stations. Cities seem to be less likely to do this for some reason. In Iowa City there is a frame that has been locked to a public bike rack near the police station for over 2 years that I am aware of...

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  14. #14
    aspiring island dweller spinninwheels's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spudd View Post
    I think the method of tagging the bikes and then removing them after a week is fine, as long as this is broadly communicated (press release so it gets into the paper would be fine).
    The last time I lived in TO, we had seen a few bikes that were tagged as abandoned, and were subject to removal in one week. This was in the Leslieville area on Queen east. I didn't really notice anywhere else, but then again that was the only area we really walked around and had time to notice.
    Last edited by spinninwheels; 11-11-10 at 09:08 AM. Reason: spelling
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