The bicycle thief
BY CHRIS WRIGHT
To the asshole who stole my bike on Monday night: I hope you ride headlong into a truck. I honestly do. Iíd hope for you to ride headlong into a searing tar pit, a seething viperís nest, a hypodermic-needle dump, but thereís little chance of that in the South End, so Iíll have to settle for a truck. A great big one.
This may seem like an overreaction. It was, after all, only a bike. As far as crimes go, bicycle theft is a relatively innocuous one. I could have been kidnapped, murdered, cut into tiny pieces and fed to the penguins at the aquarium. It could have been much worse. And it almost did get much worse when, having discovered my bike missing, I got all Charles BronsonĖish and roamed ó an obscenity-muttering, business-attired vigilante ó through some of the South Endís seedier neighborhoods. In the end, all I got was a few funny looks, but still.
Iím not alone in my misery. According to FBI statistics, about 300,000 bikes are stolen each year. The National Bike Registry puts the figure much higher ó 1.5 million stolen bikes. The average financial loss is $318 a pop, which adds up to as much as $477 million annually. As for me, my bike cost only a lousy 25 bucks ó less than the lock the asshole cut through to take it ó but thatís not the point. I loved that bike. It was like a pet to me. Sometimes Iíd pat it and coo gentle words of encouragement: " Youíre so reliable, " stuff like that. Now itís gone. Why? What kind of monster ...?
" Theyíre taken to sell for drugs, " says Donna Tocci, of the Kryptonite lock company. " People sell a bike for a hit of drugs. Or maybe a kid wants to get from one place to another. It doesnít matter that your bike was inexpensive. " According to Tocci, Iím partially to blame for the loss of my beloved bike. " You used a cable lock? " she gasps. " Oh, no! If you lived in Mayberry, a cable lock is fine. But in Boston, a cable lock, no pun intended, isnít going to cut it. " Yes, well, it was a Kryptonite cable lock. " It is very disheartening, " Tocci adds. " Itís awful. Iím so sorry. "
Yes, and so am I. On the night my bike was taken, I rode it home from work, swooping in and out of traffic, a Coldplay CD blaring into my headphones. Thatís living. It is also, says Patrick McCormick of the League of American Bicyclists, idiotic. " Youíre placing your life at risk, " McCormick says. " If youíre riding a bike, you should definitely not have headphones on. You canít hear traffic or pedestrians. You canít hear car horns. " Which brings us to another statistic. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 690 cyclists were killed in 2000, with another 51,000 injured.
So, to the asshole who stole my bike on Monday night: I have a nice portable CD player you can have. Free of charge. Coldplay CD included.
Issue Date: July 11 - 17, 2003
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