Why I don’t lock my bike (and why you shouldn’t either)

| Staff Columnist

This semester I have decided not to lock my bike when I am on campus. This may seem crazy, idiotic, naïve and financially imprudent, but I have some good reasons behind my decision. The first and most obvious is that it is a pain to lock my bike every time I bike from class to class. Unfortunately, many of my back-to-back classes are located far apart this semester. This means that I bike everywhere and really depend on my bike to prevent me from being constantly late to class. While it only takes about 30 seconds to lock or unlock my bike, doing this five to 10 times a day is time-consuming and annoying. Not locking up only saves me a little bit of time, but I am a busy student, and every second I save on menial chores is more time I have to do something more productive or enjoyable.

The second reason I don’t lock up is because I believe the chances of my bike being stolen on campus to be almost negligible. I ride a decades-old Schwinn that I bought for $60. Its brakes are in questionable shape, the paint is peeling, and I feel lucky when I am able to successfully shift gears. While I would be upset if it was stolen, I would not be crushed, and I would not be financially ruined. I’m not suggesting that those students who ride fancy new road bikes with price tags near or even significantly above $1,000 not lock their bikes. But for me, and a great deal of the Wash. U. bike-riding population, there is little risk in leaving a bike unlocked. There would be almost no reward for stealing my bike. Repairing my bike into any kind of saleable condition would likely require extensive knowledge of bikes (knowledge a petty thief is unlikely to have) or cost more than it could be resold for. Simply put, my bike is far more valuable to me than to anyone else.

Another reason I do not lock my bike is that I really do place some trust in the Wash. U. community. Besides the threat of an outside thief, the most likely way I might lose my bike is by theft by another student or employee. I, however, consider myself a trusting person. While I try not to take foolish risks like leaving my laptop unattended in the library for long periods, I do believe in the idea of communal trust. I trust that no one will “borrow” my bike to get somewhere they need to go. I trust that I will never find my bike missing and see someone else riding a suspiciously similar-looking bike the next day. This, coupled with the aforementioned negligible financial benefit of stealing my bike, leads me to feel very safe leaving my bike unlocked, even for long periods of time.

Some may say that it is only a matter of time until my bike is stolen, and perhaps that is the case. Still, partly for convenience, partly as a statement of my communal trust, I will continue to leave my bike unlocked until that day. If that day comes, it will be a sad day, but it will be one that I am fully prepared for (emotionally and financially). I will simply move on with my life with good memories of the carefree times I had while living dangerously. And while I cannot be held responsible for any consequences of others doing the same, I decided it would be worthwhile to relate my own experiences in hopes that others may take a page from my book and reap the subtle but appreciable rewards.

Andrew is a sophomore in Engineering. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.