Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What's Up Germany Wednesday

The joys of living in a bicycle friendly city are many. There are bike lanes everywhere, getting much more exercise, and Baby Bird L-O-V-E-S to be on the back of a bike. In fact, I think it is the one thing that can calm him down when he has skipped his nap or had a hard day. (Hard Day for a 3 year old = that I told him no that he couldn't throw sand in my hair)

However, the good comes with the bad and the bad is that my bike has been stolen. I hope you needed the super ugly teal green children's bike seat in the back more than me you *&^#*^%#$%$#!!!!!!!!

It was simply sitting locked up in my supposedly locked building in a common area for a whole 30 minutes in broad daylight. I did some errands and went upstairs to grab Baby Birds's bike helmet and answer the phone.

When I couldn't find it, it felt a bit like a bad movie. NOOOOOOOO I cried, clutching my hands together.

I now join Ian in Hamburg in mourning the loss of our bikes. I don't know if any of you out there have ever had your bike stolen, but I am really struggling here. First of all, I have to find a new bike. This is not easy when you are not fluent in the language or culture. Think of how many abbreviations there are on websites like craigslist or ebay. Those make absolutely no sense to me in German.

Secondly, I have to deal with a sad toddler who keeps asking why we are walking home from kita instead of taking the bike. (also because he refuses to ride in a stroller at this point).

I can't find any reliable statistics of bike theft but you can find details of why there is a lack here. Numbers don't mean anything to me unless they are included with population of how many people own bikes etc...

In the US, the Scientist bought a bike, while still an undergrad, at a police auction. Later on, he got a threatening letter attached to his bike accusing him of stealing it! He had the proof he bought it legally but we never heard from owner #1 again.

However, I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that in my humble opinion, bike thefts are probably more common here in Germany than in the US. Anyone out there have any info on this? (Of course, it could also be that more people ride bikes here too)

However, threads like this from Germany (in English) where bike theft has just so obviously become a part of the culture disturb me. (Did I really just read that people are too lazy to walk home so they steal bikes???)

Anyway, if you want to join my pity party, please comment below. :)


C N Heidelberg said...

I don't have any stats on it, but Damon had his bike stolen too. He left it locked up at his work over a weekend while we were in London. He thought it would be safer there than the train station. Now he uses two locks on it (U-bolt + wire). He reported it to the police but there's nothing they can really do. You can go to a used bike shop for a new one - might be easier than navigating ads. We got all three of our bikes at a used shop (first two and his replacement). We also go there for repairs/tune-ups. We have registration numbers carved into our bikes now too. I have no idea if it's actually a deterrent but here they do it at the police station for free.

lettershometoyou said...

Hi Yelli,
Seems to be a springtime epidemic. It's especially lousy for you since it also affects that sweet little boy.
Do check out the used bike shops for a replacement until you can decide on whether to get a brand new one. And when you do, make sure the chain and lock are heavy, and never lock it up overnight outside.

lettershometoyou said...

Just re-reading your post and noticed you don't say whether it was locked up around a fixed object through the frame. That's the number one reason bikes get stolen during the day. They simply get carried away because people are thinking, I'm only in the store for a bit, I'll just lock it around the wheels.

Another reason thieves get away with it in broad daylight is nobody seems to want to get involved. They're the first to bitch at you if you cross the street at a red light, but they'll look the other way if they see someone tampering with a bike, like sawing through a lock.

cliff1976 said...

they'll look the other way if they see someone tampering with a bike, like sawing through a lock.Now hold on there, Ian. Have you witnessed that? Or read credible reports of that? Bikes getting stolen is super ungood and I'm sorry that's happened to so many of us (especially you who got hit more than once), but I am having a hard time with your assertion.

My bike is locked only to itself in the Ständer at work. I could lock the front wheel to the Ständer, I guess, but then again I have a quick-release front wheel. If I'm paranoid enough to lock the bike to the Ständer, then I'm paranoid enough to believe that someone will steal bike minus the front wheel. So far no problems at my office just locking the bike to itself — and that has occasionally been overnight, too. Very often, my bike is the only one there for weeks at at time (lot of Weicheier around here who won't ride in overcast conditions, let alone winter).

Whenever I lock it up somewhere downtown, then it's always fixed to an immovable object, because, after all, Regensburg is the crime capital of Bavaria. And a friend of mine (stupidly, she admits it) locked her bike to itself somewhere downtown for a few hours and it was gone when she came back — because whoever wanted it could just carry it away. Good thing we're having the meetup in Munich, I guess.

swiftnick said...

oh yes, bike theft. I'm sorry to hear that your bike has been stolen. It's indeed very commen here.
Fancy bikes are stolen more often but my grandmother used to say: My bike is a rusty beater but I'll lock it up anyway. If someone doesn't want to walk, he will take mine and throw it in a bush afterwards.
Sometimes it doesn't even help to lock the frame to a fixed object. Then they take the wheels away, or the saddle or who knows what.
It's awful.

Snooker said...

Once again, I'm really sorry this happened to ya. It sucks to get any thing stolen, but stealing someone's mode of transportation really disrupts their lives more than most other things.

I agree with the used bike store idea. If you need some direction on this, just let me know. There are several right around the area you live/I work.

J said...

wow, sorry to hear it happened to you too. Perhaps they're targeting expat bikes? :)

"you don't say whether it was locked up around a fixed object through the frame."

That doesn't tend to matter around here. I lock mine to its frame when I have to make a quick run into a shop all the time (as do most around here) and it's never been stolen. I wouldn't leave it out overnight like that, though.

C said...

"...they'll look the other way if they see someone tampering with a

Guilty as charged. My husband's bike was stolen at the train station almost immediately after we arrived here and then a month later, at said train station, we saw a guy walking around the bike area with a foot-long bolt cutters. In broad daylight. Hmmm... whatya need that for? we thought. But he also had the biceps to get that bolt cutters through any sized chain so I wasn't about to confront him. And the police, well, they really are great at stopping bicyclists at red lights. Not so much at bike theft.

Paula said...

Aw, I'm sorry. Consider it a Berlin rite of passage if it makes you feel better. I've never had a bike here (or a car) but some jerk stole the lammfellsäcke off our twins' stroller in teh entryway of our building a couple years back. Now tell me, what good do two babysized sleeping bags do? I left a note that asked if the new "owner" were at least keeping warm, because my babies' weren't. I still smoulder just thinking about it.

As for a new bike, there's the DB (die Bahn) auction every couple of months. You can supposedly get some really good bikes there. There's one happening around charlottenburg--I think00this Thursday. Any Berlin site (or train station) should have info.

Good luck and be sure to get a new pair of shoes out of your plight!