If This Were About the Bike Lane An Irate Thread Would Develop…

Background Reading


A thread has developed in which a cyclist tries to explain away his lack of compliance with private property lockup protocols:

Property management at 10 S. Riverside tried to cut my lock
Posted by Mike M on August 5, 2013 at 9:44pm

Parking In The Bike Lane

Parking In The Bike Lane

Hey all,
Just a bit of a heads-up: I would recommend against locking bikes in/around the pedestrian plaza at 10 S. Riverside (Monroe and the river), as I did so today and security / property management evidently tried to cut my lock and remove my bike.
For some background, I was working from this building today, which is a building I have worked from before but do not work from regularly. I seem to remember them previously having some bike racks near the building, but either I am mistaken or they were removed. When I arrived, I looked for a decent spot to lock up, and didn’t see any bike racks nearby – walked to the other side of the building, only rack I saw already had 3 bikes on it. There, however, is a quite sturdy (roughly telephone pole diameter) guardrail that separates the pedestrian plaza from the river to stop people from falling over the edge. Given the lack of otherwise secure bike parking, I locked up to this railing (I have a chain that is relatively long. U-lock would not have gone around it). While there is no obvious reason (to me) why anyone would have an issue with bike parking here, I did look for any signs asking people not to lock bikes there, and did not see any.

As I was unlocking my bike at the end of the work day, a man walked up to me and mentioned that he had seen someone in a uniform (he mentioned the company, which I don’t remember, but I took to be the building operator) trying to cut my lock off. This fits with the two marks on my lock that appear to be from bolt cutters and some ripped fabric on the chain cover.

Thankfully, my lock withstood the attempted cutting with nothing more than cosmetic damage (thank you, Abus hardened steel). While it’s possible that (a) this story was fabricated or (b) this was actually a thief dressed in a uniform, I don’t have any reason to believe either of those to be true.

Regardless of the legality of removing my bike, at the very least this is a bit troubling. While I’m pretty confident I was on private property, there was nothing to suggest I was locking my bike somewhere I shouldn’t have been, and it was completely out of the way of everything – actually much more out of the way than most bike racks, in my opinion. Even if property management has the right to remove a bike locked how mine was, I’m not sure why they would want to do so. I could understand if a bike was left there for an extended period of time, but mine was there for ~5 hours.

When it comes to their own behavior cyclists are very forgiving of their lapses. But in the ‘real world‘ locks do get cut off and bikes removed and despite their being no 311 phone number to call you can find yourself without your primary transport and deservedly so. Ordinarily this would be a teachable moment for just about any group other than bicyclists.

The onus is on the cyclist when trying to lock up on private property. It should simply be assumed that without written permission this is not a good thing to do. But cyclists would far rather spend their time hassling a motorist or a delivery truck operator for blocking the bike lane rather than looking inward and wondering aloud if this is not the exact same sort of behavior on their part.

The Golden Rule of Cycling

The Golden Rule of Cycling

Stop Giving Ourselves the Benefit Of A Doubt

We all know how many violent threads about what to do when a car is parked in the bike lane or a delivery truck is unloading in that same lane or a driver is letting off a passenger in the bike lane, etc. We like to go nuclear on the drivers to ‘teach them a lesson‘. We want to dial 311 and complain and if possible get a police vehicle to come and ticket the person. We get very edgy about the way in which motorists behave when it comes to our lane. But clearly we have no such restrictions on our own behavior even when signs are posted. If there is a rock concert and we do not want to walk that extra few hundred feet or so we chain and lock and bikes to anything that is itself anchored and walk away.

What we need to suggest to the owners of these buildings is that they form a consortium which has the weight of the famed Lincoln Park Pirates. Each team is equipped with state-of-the-art angle grinders and are certified to be able to remove bikes in under 5-minutes. They we should request that they be turned loose at every rock concert and that they patrol every building whose private property we are unwilling to respect and take our bikes. To make things really juicy we should make certain that they are always taking pictures of our bikes before they are removed and that to get our bikes back we should have to pay a fee equivalent to that for a Divvy bike which has remained undocked beyond the half hour limit.

We need to be as ruthless with ourselves as we claim to want to be with motorists. Otherwise we get very mealy-mouthed and become unable to deal without own culpability:

Reply by jolondon30 7 hours ago
I know that building and go there fairly often. They have warned me about doing what you did…locked it to that same railing. And yes, there are few racks around there and the gate seems a perfect place to lock up.

I do find it something of a nasty policy and unnecessary. That being said, it’s their building and I guess free to do what they want. The railing next to the river makes you think it is public property..but it ain’t. Glad they couldn’t cut your lock.

Never mind how ‘nasty‘ the policy is. Building owners should be able to go as nuclear as we want to when motorists invade our precious bike lane. I think it is high time that we turn the tables on ourselves.

Reply by Mike M 6 hours ago
Agreed. I’m not questioning whether they are within their powers to remove a locked bike from their property, just wondering why they see it as necessary and why they wouldn’t add a sign asking cyclists not to lock up there. It seems like a very unneighborly way of handling things. I mostly just want to make sure nobody loses their stuff by locking up here.

This is the same kind of ‘wishy-washy‘ thinking that motorists who are dropping off passengers in the bike lane use too. And if we had to post signs up and down the streets of Chicago to warn delivery people that parking in our lane is punishable by death the cost would be prohibitive. If the property does not belong to us and there are no bike racks provided then we need to get written permission to use the railing. Otherwise we should call the Lincoln Park Pirates on ourselves and get ready to smile for the camera while our lock is being destroyed and our bicycle confiscated. After all this is what we would have wanted for motorists in the bike lane.

Reply by Tom 5 hours ago
A sign would be much more effective than surprising people with a missing bike. I know you said you don’t think it was an attempt to steal your bike but if you think about it, it’s a really good cover to be taking people’s bikes. It’s hard to understand why anyone would care unless the bike is really in the way.

It’s all so very different when it our transgression that we are speaking of. But we need to ‘cowboy up‘ and realize that like everyone else who drives one of those motor-vehicles there are consequences to our actions. Sure they could post signs but why bother. It is not our place to wonder why they care about the bike being locked up on their property. It is their property and that is that. We have to start thinking about ourselves the way we think when we come across a motorist in the bike lane unloading beer at the tavern we are going to be frequenting in a few hours. We need to get tough with ourselves.

Cyclists Are Have A Very High Weasel Factor In Their Bloodstreams

I mentioned earlier a few of the threads on the ChainLink where the bluster and bravado was so thick you could have cut it with a knife. Everyone was hoping to either get the delivery man fired from his job because he was unloading foodstuffs to one of the restaurants along Dearborn or it was a person driving a high end automobile who had managed to stop and either park and run into a business to grab something they might have ordered or were letting passengers off in the bike lane.

One of the ‘major threats‘ was a website where photos of the offenders would be posted for all to see. And of course there would be the calls to the Chicago Police Department to have its undersized staff stop whatever it was doing to attend to a motorist in the bike lane. That sort of thing when the gun violence crime rate is as high as it is seems a bit silly, but who am I to undermine the efforts by the ChainLink Crowd to root out evil wherever it exists.

But the problem with this situation is that bicyclists are behaving with willful ignorance just like their motorist counterparts and are struggling to find a defense for their actions which will let them ‘off the hook‘, No wonder you can walk away from a ChainLink thread thinking that these people are ‘simply crazy‘. And that is when you are a cyclist and support improvement in out lot. But it is very hard to justify weasel activity at this high level when you know how these very same individuals would react were the shoe on the other foot. Listen to their continued blather:

Reply by jolondon30 3 hours ago
They aren’t trying to steal bikes. They have talked to me several times. It’s a policy thing..the guards are under instructions to keep the outside area clean/neat. It’s a high end bldg. with a lot of big law firms, etc.

I agree with both of you that signs would be a better way to handle it. They have been only pleasant with me, I must say.

Well at least this individual is willing to paint a fair picture of the situation.

Reply by Julie Hochstadter 1 hour ago
where is the sign that says you can’t park there?

Happened to me and my bike lock was sawed off at the Aon Building. Got my bike back but I was not happy. No signs at all saying DO NOT PARK YOUR BIKE HERE. I called it “Another Lock Bites The Dust

Even for Julie this is pretty weak. I doubt that anyone reading this who owns a private home (not living in a condo or apartment) does not have any signs posted on their front porch rail to suggest that bikes may not be locked up there. Likewise if you have a garden hose outlet on your lawn is it really necessary that you warn off would be cyclists that they may not enter your property to refill their water bottles? Is it not simply an established fact that if you do not own the property you have to stay off until invited onto it?

The situation should be as clear as crystal when it comes to private building either for commerce or residential. You do not have the run of the place simply because you are too damned lazy to go and find a publicly usable bike rack perhaps a block or so away. For all of their blather about how wonderful getting exercise is when cycling, cyclists seem rather averse to walking anywhere they don’t have to. That poster above about the sign on a fence during a rock concert says it all. Cyclists are lazy.

Reply by Brendan Kevenides 5 minutes ago
I had a chance to look into this issue for a messenger who had his bike removed by a building owner or manager after he locked up to a place he probably shouldn’t have. (He admitted that there was don’t lock up here sign.) Unfortunately, when the lock was cut, his bike’s steel frame was also badly damaged. He asked me about his rights. We did some research. We found that the law isn’t very clear. There is a statute in the IL Vehicle Code that details how property owners may deal with motor vehicles parked illegally on their property, but nothing pertaining explicitly to bikes. A portion of Chicago’s municipal code deals with abandoned bikes, but that is a different situation. This is an issue that should be addressed by the City. There should be an ordinance that tells property owners just what they may and may not do when dealing with an unwanted bicycle on their property.

A property owner certainly may have an unwanted bike, or anything else that disturbs their enjoyment of their property, removed. But how may that be accomplished? Certainly they may call the police, who could issue a ticket to the offending bicyclist. Of course, if the bike remains there for a long time to the point where it may officially be deemed “abandoned”, the City may come and remove it. But may a land owner just remove the bike and toss it, or damage it? I don’t think so. But more clarity from the City would be appreciated.

Good luck with this line of reasoning. But the history of towing by the Lincoln Park Pirates here in Chicago includes so very many damage claims it would make your hair stand on end. But look at it this way. How are you going to prove that the damage to the frame occurred on this specific occasion and not on another at a completely different building?

Motorists have long ago learned that parking lots are planted all over the city (much to the chagrin of bicyclists) for the simple reason that you are not allowed to simply drive up to any vacant spot and park. It is likely either private property or public and you do not have the right to use it in that fashion. What trips cyclists up is that their vehicles are small by comparison. And further they have been living as scofflaws when it comes to personal property for so very long that it seems odd and offensive to them when someone pushes back.

I recall how irate the ChainLink Crowd was when the CTA began cutting bikes away from the handrails on platforms. By having the bikes on the handrails pedestrians and even those in wheelchairs were being prevented from using them as they were intended. But the worse part of that situation was that there was free public parking provided for bicycles down at street level just before scaling the steps. But cyclists are lazy.

They cannot be required by any power on Earth to walk any distance that is further than they personally deem to be necessary. What this makes this is arrogant selfish assholes whose personal comfort is more important than that of a person in a wheelchair.

Reply by Eli 2 minutes ago
I got a warning notice stuck to my bike for locking up to the dock ramp railing at DuSable Harbor. (The bike was outside of the ramp and not obstructing it, or the dock, in any way.) Slightly frustrating since (a) there was no sign prohibiting this and (b) you can go to Montrose or Belmont Harbors, also owned by the city and managed by Westrec and in theory subject to the same policies, any day of the week and see many bikes locked to dock ramp railings and no one ever gets warnings at those harbors. But I certainly appreciated getting a warning rather than having my lock cut.

I don’t understand why these downtown buildings immediately resort to cutting locks, or having security guards verbally warn you if they happen to see you. Just put a note on the bike with a warning. I can’t imagine many people would chance locking their bikes up again after receiving such a note.

See if you are a motorist in the bike lane, no simple note is sufficient. They want to call 311 or failing that 911 and have you ticketed towed and perhaps drawn and quartered. But for their silly asses they want as much slack as is humanly possible. Sorry folks. If it is private property you do not get to lock up without written permission. Period. There is no reason why anyone should have to post a note or a sticker or anything else unless they feel charitable.

But from where I stand it would be a great thing to have cyclists get the kind of swift and certain retribution that they want to mete out to any and every individual on the planet when it suits them. Sorry folks but there is no call to the Active Transportation Alliance lackeys which will put your violations in a better light. You screwed up and were it me I would use the same logic that one wag gave regarding sink holes.

He claimed (on the ChainLink) that the best idea was do dump cars into them and cover them up. Ok. Harsh but effective. Now all we need to do is follow through with illegally parked bikes and I would be happier than a clam.