Bike puzzle
November 20, 2012 6:28 PM   Subscribe

My bike is trapped by a gross, muscle-y motorcycle. How can I get it out?

An expensive-looking motorcycle locked itself to the same parking sign that I locked my bike to, but the massive kryptonite chain is attached to the sign through the frame of my bike. So I cannot get my bike out. I left a note on the motorcycle but I think the owner must be out of town. It has been a week. I called a locksmith and he said he can't do anything. I called the police and told them about the locksmith...they never showed up. I'm really annoyed and I want my bike back. What do you all advise?
posted by Ventre Mou to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is the chain too big for bolt cutters? After a week I think that route becomes acceptable.
posted by internet!Hannah at 6:33 PM on November 20, 2012 [11 favorites]

If you go the bolt cutter route, please relock this guys motorcycle with a new chain. I'm sure he values his expensive-looking, gross, muscle-y motorcycle as much as you love the bike and just leaving it unlocked would be repaying a wrong with a wrong.

Maybe try parking enforcement, or bring the license plate number and VIN to the DMV or the police so that they can contact the owner and deal with it.
posted by cakebatter at 6:36 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Does the motorcycle have a license plate? Can you call some combo of the dmv and the police with that info so that you can get in touch with the owner?
posted by Kololo at 6:53 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would keep calling locksmiths. They can lock the bike up again afterward, so I don't know why one wouldn't come out.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:58 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Personally I'd have no shame cutting the chain, but the locksmith option is definitely more polite.
posted by Forktine at 7:09 PM on November 20, 2012 [6 favorites]

The nice thing to do would be to go the DMV route and try to find contact information for the owner.

However, if it were my bike, and I had waited a week,* I would get proof of purchase for my bike and buy or rent a rechargeable angle grinder to cut through the chain. Proof of purchase (receipt, etc.) is to show any cops who turn up that you own the bike and are trying to liberate it. You might document the situation with photos before firing up the grinder. Wear eye protection while doing it. If you wanted to be nice, you could get a high quality padlock and use it to replace the chain link that you cut through to free your bike. You could also leave a note explaining what happened. If you do that, though, be sure to snap a photo and send it to Passive-Aggressive for the amusement of all and sundry.

*Since my bike is my main mode of transport, I'm unlikely to have waited a week.
posted by brianogilvie at 7:13 PM on November 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

Yeah, there are no plates or other identifying info on the motorcycle. I think cutting through the chain and then relocking it with a padlock is going to be the best solution.
posted by Ventre Mou at 7:26 PM on November 20, 2012

Where are you? A vehicle in CA with no plates and on public property can be towed immediately as abandoned, for example. I'd keep bugging the police.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 7:30 PM on November 20, 2012 [8 favorites]

I'm in Brooklyn. The locksmith quoted me $195 to cut the chain. I'm not going to spend that. I will bug the police again tomorrow.
posted by Ventre Mou at 7:51 PM on November 20, 2012

As long as you're not going to be locking your bike there in the future I say fuck'em and call the police, and get it taken away. The motorcycle owner did a dick move by locking through your frame in the first place. Is not having plates really okay in Brooklyn?
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:01 PM on November 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

There is a strong culture of no plates among NYC bikers--a combination of avoiding parking tickets and the fact that plates very often get stolen off parked bikes. One velcros one's plate on while one is riding, and removes it while parked.

The bike will have a VIN on the frame up near the front somewhere. Either a sticker or stamped numbers.

You can buy a Harbor Freight grinder and a cutoff wheel for way way less than $195.

And "gross & muscley"? How is that relevant?
posted by mollymayhem at 8:15 PM on November 20, 2012 [7 favorites]

It would seem that parking a motorcycle in New York is problematic enough to be a 'thing' worth knowing about. That being said this driver has pulled a dick move and has essentially stolen your bike.

My first reaction is to suggest using an angle grinder to cut his lock and let him figure out how to keep the bike from being stolen. If, however, enforcement there is anything like it is here you'd probably be boned. It's amazing how fast destruction of property and GTA charges can get pressed.

Personal experience in similar situations (Vancouver) suggest that "not being able to get your bike" will get no sympathy or help from the police but "obstruction of a fire lane", "obstruction of a handicap/pararamp/dropped crossing" or "obstruction of building entrance" or "abandoned vehicle" are all more likely to result in direct action.

A second avenue of attack may present it's self if you're anywhere near paid parking. If so complaining to both the police and the parking authority may reap rewards. it's amazing how much more action you may get (legal or otherwise) if you complain to someone with money on the line.

Also in many locals it is illegale to affix anything to a traffic sign. You might get a little more action if you complain specifically about that, especially if the sign may be obscured or damaged. Y'know, however that may have happened. A last resort though as it's likely to result in the impounding of your bike.

And "gross & muscley"? How is that relevant?
Someone comes to your house and changes the locks so they can store shit in your closet. Or maybe they've parked in your driveway to avoid a parking ticket and have blocked you in. In either case you'd have more recourse though the resulting feelings would be similar. I think a little 'poetic licence' is certainly understandable. Also? fuck those people.
posted by mce at 9:35 PM on November 20, 2012 [6 favorites]

Looks like you can rent an angle grinder for about $15/day. With the right cutting tool on it, you can cut through the chain in less than a minute. I wouldn't hesitate to do this if someone put a lock on my bike.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:23 AM on November 21, 2012

Thank you all. There was an apology note on my bike this morning. And they locked under rather than through. They must have been out of town. I moved my bike up the street... Happy Thanksgiving all. :)
posted by Ventre Mou at 6:31 AM on November 21, 2012 [13 favorites]

Glad it worked out!

BTW, if another bike is ever locked to yours in the same way, it could be a theft attempt. (Thief locks his bike to yours, you decide to wait a day and see whether it's gone, and at night, thief returns, cuts your lock, and then unlocks his and takes your bike.) In that case I wouldn't wait. But it seems less likely with a motorcycle.
posted by brianogilvie at 8:54 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

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