Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bike thiefs

Casey Neistat, New York Times Op Ed, 12 March 2012 (Hat tip:  BB via NC)
I was 20 years old when I moved to New York City on a Friday in June 2001. I brought all the clothes I could fit in a big duffel bag, along with my bicycle. Monday morning I was to report to my new job as a bike messenger. Saturday, my first full day in Manhattan, my bike was stolen. 
In the nearly 11 years since that day, I have had countless bikes and parts stolen. I’ve used the most secure locks, registered my bike with the N.Y.P.D., and parked in only the most conspicuous locations. But I’ve found only one sure way of keeping my bike secure: keeping it indoors. During business hours I keep my bike in my office and when I get home I carry it up four flights of stairs.
He then goes on to explain how he tried out an experiment.  I presume he was interested in how it was that his bike was being stolen in broad daylight with nobody ever being caught.  So he would lock up his bike in a public place, and then come back latter and act like a bike their- or more exactly an inept bike thief - he made it obvious that he was stealing a bike.
He made a video of it (from his first experiment a few years ago) and pretty much showed that his likelyhood of being stopped/aprehended was small.
Now his theory is that people don't care, and won't stop people from stealing a bike.  While I would agree that there is some of this problem, I think there is a larger issue.
In an open transit city, nobody knows what is going on.   To be exact, so much is going on, that most people only concentrate on the immediate items of concern to them:  is my walking path open, lighting their cigarette, etcetera.   While it is true that busy people are less likely to get involved in helping other people.  You can also get cases of bystander apathy- too many people being around will inhibit (diffusion of responsibility) the helping response .
I brought this up because I think it does a good job of illustrating the problems of mixed use development that we discussed earlier.  It brings the anonymity and cross traffic of the commercial zone, into our home communities.


Humble wife said...

Seems like the more people, the less many care to pay attention. No eye contact, zero awareness except where and what that person is doing.

Where I live, I note unusual vehicles, as we average only 1 or 2 non residents of the area I live in, per day. I watch even the air traffic as we live in a flight restricted area...and can tell if border patrol has info as they fly over.

In addition, we live in an open range area, so I monitor cattle that come close to our property too, as we live in a fence out state.

I find it impossible to comprehend how one would be so overexposed that they would not pay attention to the basic rights to secure anything.

Oh have me deep in thought-once again!!


russell1200 said...

Living in the South, people still say hello to each other in passing. Even in busy, not particularly Southern Raleigh -sometimes.

I lived in New York City for a couple of years back in the 1980s when it was at its most problematic. I always found the natives to be very outgoing and friendly in person. The stressed out people who drove an hour each way not so much. And since you never were sure which you were running into, you tended to wait people out to see what type of person you were dealing with.