Abandoned bikes: Stealing or saving?

Abandoned bikes: Stealing or saving?

JOSH REICH wonders whether London’s abandoned bikes are fair game, or should be left for the authorities to remove.


Abandoned Bike

I used to walk past it a couple of times a week, chained forlornly to a lamp post, rear tyre slightly deflated.

For at least four months it never moved, its front wheel 45 degrees to the kerb, seemingly ready to hit the road, but no-one there to take it.

It was a trendy looking thing, a Raleigh, off-red, the kind the cool kids ride out east.

Then, a sticker appeared on its seat, bearing the dreaded mark of the Camden Council, saying it had been reported abandoned and if it was not moved within 25 days, it would be taken away.

The weeks passed, the bike remained, the sticker slowly deteriorating in the rain.

Then the thought crossed my mind, perhaps I could claim the bike?

It had been sitting there unused for months.

I would take good care of it, find room in my tiny flat to keep out of the elements, take it for a spin when the weather was clear.

All it would take was a pair of bolt cutters, the cover of darkness, and the threat of being mistaken for a common thief.

I wasn’t though, all I wanted was to prevent it being tossed in a heap in a council scrapyard, and to own a bike that I couldn’t afford if I were to find it in a shop.

While Londoners claim to love their bikes, it can at times be hard to find evidence of it.

Outside underground stations, in bike parks, along fences, there are hundreds of bikes left by their owners, simply waiting to be tossed into a council van and taken off to an uncertain future.

I often find myself pondering whether it would be wrong for me to claim one, or if the day I did, someone would return after months away to find their bike had been nicked?

I’ve never had a bike stolen, but I know plenty of people who have, and it is a horrible feeling to be on the receiving end.

But if you’re 99 percent sure no-one is coming back to claim it, and the council is set to remove it to an uncertain future, surely I could justify taking it for myself?

In the end I left the bike, and sure enough, it was gone a couple of days later, presumably hauled off by the council.

I can’t help but think that I could be cycling it today, and next time I see a bike in a similar situation, I may think a little harder about taking it for myself.

Do you think abandoned bikes are fair game, or should they be left to be collected by the council? Let us know below.