So I spent a bit of my Wednesday night building up a total beater fixed gear bike to ride to the U.S. Open on Thursday, lock it up and not have to worry about it. Bike came out just like I wanted it, ugly, but very functional. I actually can walk to the Open in about 25 minutes, but I figured why walk when I can ride. Anyhow, I get there, find a good spot to lock the bike up on a lamp post, find my friend and head on in. A few hours of getting baked in the sun got to us, so we decided to head out into Flushing Meadow Park to find some good shade and relax before going back to see more tennis. On our way out I notice that my bike was gone.
I tracked down a cop and asked him if he knew if anybody was removing bikes from the area (it did not even cross my mind that it would have gotten stolen b/c the thing is *uuugly*). The cop told me that yes, the Parks Department was going around clipping bikes that were locked anywhere near the grounds of the U.S. Open. He was very friendly actually, got on his walkie-talkie and found out for me where they were taking the clipped bikes. I thanked him and told him that if they are going to clip locks that they should have signs saying you can't lock up your bikes there. He agreed, apologized even though he had nothing to do with it and wished me luck.
After watching some more tennis I went to find this office where the bikes were being taken too. I found two parks police types standing outside of what looked to be the office and asked them if they could help me. One them asked me what my bike looked like, went into the office and came out with it in less than 2 minutes. I asked him why they were removing bikes and he told me that it was at the U.S. Open's request b/c they are concerned that there might be bombs in the bikes that are left unattended. I asked him why there weren't any signs and he said that signs don't do much good b/c people just take signs off (I was sort of baffled by that response). He then told me that the Bike Rental shack that is in the park is allowing people to lock there bikes there, something that would have been nice to know beforehand. Since I had my bike back and since it did not seem worth discussing much more with this guy, I just left annoyed and out a good lock, but at least I had the bike back.
This got a bit longer than intended, but let me share one more part that I found extremely funny. This office where the bike was taken to is actually closer to the U.S. Open grounds, the subway and the Long Island Railroad than where I had my bike locked, so if there was a bomb in my bike it would have been in a much more dangerous place. And I am fairly sure that they did not take any bomb dogs or bomb squad to inspect the bike before storing it away. I really found the whole situation rather ridiculous.