Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Flaccid and unloved

Walking through downtown Juneau today reminded me of that old TV Christmas special in which Rudolph runs away and ends up on the Island of Misfit Toys.

Apparently, Juneau is the City of Misfit Bikes. I walked by several racks loaded with abandoned bikes that were rotting away. Rusted chains, flat and cracked tires, old plastic bags wedged under the wheels where they were blown by the wind. It was obvious that many sat unused all winter.

Given that there were so many only steps away from popular shops in the heart of downtown, I assume that many of them were left behind last year when summer workers scattered to the four winds at the end of tourist season. Probably easier to dump a cheap bike than to figure a way to get it on a plane, especially if you're running a couple of days behind schedule and classes are about to start at some school somewhere. Or if you're hung over from an end-of-the-season bash, and the ferry is about to pull away.

Juneau's a cruise-ship town. Stores are already stocking their shelves in preparation for the rush of summer tourists, so "Alaska" souvenirs are arriving in cardboard boxes stamped with "Made in China." That means the usual horde of summer workers will be arriving in a few weeks.

Maybe some of these bikes will be put back into use, if their locks can be opened. They're not all junk. Sure, most are the cheap, big-box-store variety that are easy to use and then dump the next morning. They don't expect you to call or write after you've had your thrills. But there are some "real" bikes in the bunch. The kind of rides that cost a few hundred bucks in a bike shop.

Bikes should never be left on the street and forgotten. Even the cheap and trashy ones deserve to be treated better than that.


the old bag said...

Wish I could find the links -- there's a guy who photographs abandoned bicycles in DC (I think it was), another who paints abandoned bicycle relics white (in memory of their "past lives" -- rather than in the vein of ghost bikes memorializing cyclists killed...which is more sad). In each case, bicycles were essentially left to fall apart and rust until they were unusable. Too bad authorities can't take them while they're still usable and give them to those in need. But I suppose unless law states specifically a time frame for abandoned bicycles (which then means a person assigned to track that time frame for each bike), owners can raise hell if their rig was snatched. much potential just sitting there.....

gwadzilla said...

google gwadzilla and ghost bike and you may find my link to it

those bikes need to be freed

and then resurected

gwadzilla said...

never mind the google
go to the link for BITTER CYCLIST on your page
it has the story to the GHOST BIKES THERE

Shawn Kielty said...

This is a guy in NY photos of abandoned bikes. Joe Shumacher.