Tuesday, September 29, 2009

abandoned bikes etc

I think that most people would agree that there has been a big shift in the last few years with more and more people turning to the bicycle as their main form of daily transport, particularly in capital cities.

For the most part, this trend is due to one or all of the following: petrol prices, parking shortages, fitness fads, public transport woes and last but certainly not least pure fashion.
For me and a few people I know, it is cheaper and quicker to ride than to drive or catch public transport to work. It is also healthier and more relaxing, as not only do you get some exercise, but you don't have people sneezing and coughing in your face, and nutters screaming at the top of their lungs.

I am always on the lookout for a cool new bike. I currently have three. Bikes can really range in price and quality, so it can be difficult to buy one without help or extensive research. Second-hand bikes have become very popular, as has recycling bikes, but the catch in both cases is - only for certain brands. For the most part this is due to build quality, but hip young skinny leg kids are pushing the prices up on second-hand bikes and components from particular brands including Masi, Merckx, Peugeot, MKS and lots of others. Whilst European brands seem to be at the top of the pecking order, a lot of Japanese products are also on the market due to the dollar value that fads attract in that country.

Now given these traends and fads, I have noticed something strange.

Abandoned bikes!

I have spent a lot of time in Sydney lately and of course my home town of Melbourne, and in both cities I am seeing more and more abandoned bikes. They are mostly mountain bikes and hybrids, and they are usually poorly secured to a pole or bike rack, i.e. lock through the frame, not the wheels.

Most, but not all, have been damaged in some way, which may have lead to the owner giving it up as a bad joke. There's one near my work with a combination lock through the frame attached to a pole. Someone has stomped the front wheel so that it is almost bent at a 90 degree angle. It has now been there for at least three weeks, with a helmet too. I keep thinking that it would be greatly appreciated somewhere like the bike shed at CERES, but if I were to try and retrieve it, chances are I would be seen as a thief by the high police presence in the area.

I have seen quite a few around. One I watched day after day in Sydney was a Trek. The frame was the only thing left after two weeks, as it was the only part secures to the bike rack.

There was also another stomped wheel on a fairly nice ladies hybrid bike on a bike rack right outside the glass doors of a busy city building in Melbourne. Even though it was a nice bike (a Jamis or Apollo I think) it sat there for weeks too.

There are countless other examples, but my problem with this is that the parts from a few of these cast offs could be put together to make a working bike for some poor buggar who can't afford something new.

I am going to try to find out if the Victoria Police or Melbourne City council have a facility to monitor suspect bikes and remove them if they sit there for a particular length of time. You could tag the broken or vagrant looking bikes and come back to see if they have gone or the tag has been removed. It's just a thought.

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