I was walking down Hudson Street on a lovely summer day in the city, a phrase seldom said this steamy summer, when I noticed the carcass of the dead bike pictured below chained to a pole.
Every so often when I see the remains of bikes like this one I’ve wondered how this happens. What was the owner thinking when he or she initially chained it to this pole? “Goodbye bike. Thanks for all the rides. You’re on your own now”? When this bike was originally locked to this pole, I imagine it was intact. It probably once looked as appreciated as this one I saw later that day on the Upper West Side.
When the owner of the dead bike went to wherever he or she needed to go, did the bicycle vultures promptly descend and strip it bare? Was this a bicycle hate crime, or a case of bicycle abuse? Should there be organizations established called the ASPCB (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Bikes) or PETB (People for the Ethical Treatment of Bikes)? Did the owner see the ruins of his or her bike and just walk away?
Milton surmised that the owner may have originally removed the front wheel, but for whatever reason, never returned for the bike. He thinks that over time, hungry bike vultures picked it apart. Albee offered a more succinct observation, “Cyclicide.”
Since I was not inclined to get very CSI about what led to this particular bike’s demise, I continued my walk and strolled past my favorite bike boutique, Adeline Adeline, located on Reade Street.
I would not dare enter this store, but often I have gazed at the lovely bikes within from the outside. I drool inconspicuously and tastefully. I hold a small plastic cup under my lower lip.
It just so happened that on this particular day, they had my all time favorite bike, a Dutch model called the Batavus Breukelen, which normally sells for about $1150, on sale for $1035, ten percent off. As much as I love the Batavus’s design, it seems like the ideal city bike to me. The frame is lightweight aluminum. It’s weatherproof so it won’t rust when chained outside on rainy or icy days. It’s a solidly built vehicle that can withstand the rigors of potholed Gotham City streets. It’s in my favorite color. Last but not least, if I rode this bike most of the time to and from work, instead of the crowded subway, I would be in much better shape physically and mentally. There is also the added bonus of saving the $89 a month I spend on a Metrocard. Within 11.62 months, I will have recouped my $1035 investment and find myself the fittest I’ve been in years!
Even though this looks like such a sweet deal, if I only had an extra $1035 to throw around, but if I did, am I kidding myself? I’m going to buy a Dutch bike? If I had an extra $1035, I’d probably get an iPhone, a burger at The Spotted Pig, and a mole removal instead. Even more realistically, the second the first flake of snow falls, I am certain the last thing I’d want to do is ride a bike half-way though Manhattan to work, even one as cool as the Batavus Breukelen. If I found myself riding a bike in a snowstorm or Nor’easter, I am certain that the mantra playing inside my head would go something like this:
Me: I’m not Dutch, I’m miserable; this is insane. I’m not Dutch, I’m miserable; this is insane. I’m not Dutch, I’m miserable; this is insane.
By December, I would sheepishly return to paying $89 for Metrocards until April. If anyone would dare ask me if I’m still riding my Batavus Breukelen or when do I plan to resume riding my Batavus Breukelen again, I’d probably be so irked I’d beat them with a wrench. So much for my master plan where I foresee my sexy black bike paying itself off within a year.
Yet, I am certain even if I chose to quit riding this bike I covet forever, I would never leave it chained to a pole so it could suffer a humiliating and public death. I would not want to flaunt that this idea that appears so brilliant in August, proves to be rather boneheaded by December. Still, that’s a nice price for a lovely bike.