Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I couldn't resist snapping a shot of this bike, which was sitting on the Transitway bridge this morning at Mackenzie King, just outside the Rideau Centre. Looks like someone locked it up sometime around, oh, last Wednesday when the snow came down, and hasn't come back for it. And I don't think that bike's going anywhere till spring...

It reminds me of another bike - a brown commuter - that I passed every evening on the River Path, just past the bridge to Algonquin College. It was locked to a tree, near a little clearing that led down to the water where people often sit, and it stayed there for at least two months. Every time I passed it I had to wonder how it got there, who locked it up and left it there, and why they never came back to pick it up. As time went on, I also kept wondering why the front tire hadn't been stolen yet.

And then one day the tire was gone. I was surprised it had taken as long as it did: not really the bike-theft capital of anywhere, Ottawa.

Those abandoned bikes, though: every time I see one I have to wonder why and how they got left where they are. If anyone's coming back for them. What the policy is on abandoned bicycles. Does the city have to come and cut the locks when no one comes for them? When do they leave those spots, and how?


  1. I think they simply rust into nothingness, with their random molecules eventually ending up in another bike. Bike reincarnation if you will. Perhaps there's a bit of a penny-farthing in your front fork. Who knows? JM

  2. I like that. There's something sort of samsara-like about that, and the whole reincarnation wheel-of-life thing appeals to Mike (who does, after all, have two wheels of his own and is quite fond of cyclical things.) . .

  3. Quick update: According to City Hall, they're collected by the police and auctioned off a couple of times a year. I'm going to call the police to see if I can find out what the actual process is.

    My sister points out that she has a ph.D. student in Aberdeen, Scotland, who started a nonprofit that collects abandoned bikes, strips them for parts or repairs them, offers bike repair workshops, and then loans bikes out for free. What a brilliant idea. Why doesn't someone do that here?