I might be suffering from post-traumatic bike-theft stress syndrome. Every work day I park my bike at the McDonald’s Cycle Center, a city bike garage complete with showers, lockers, maintenance, and secure parking. I pay $25 a month for use of the entire facility, but there’s also free secure parking in the basement. (That’s where I parked while on the wait list for membership last summer.)
Yesterday, I was running late for a meeting and did not have time to park my bike in the Cycle Center. Instead, I chained Oma to a bike rack in front of my building. I can see that particular rack from my 20th floor window, so figured I could keep an eye on her. My meeting lasted 2 hours and as soon as I returned to my office, I looked out the window. It was getting dark and I couldn’t see much. I climbed on top of my desk and mushed my face against the glass to get a closer look. I still couldn’t see Oma. Then I thought I saw a dark figure loitering and messing around in the spot where she was parked.
Immediately, I grabbed my helmet, bag, and coat and ran out of my office. I left without shutting my computer down or rinsing out my coffee cup – all the usual routine tasks. By the time I got through the elevator bank and past security to outside, my heart was thumping, only to find nothing amiss. Oma was standing exactly as I left her, no funny business. I felt absolutely silly and a little unbalanced. I had planned to stay at work a couple more hours, but after going through all the trouble of fleeing the building, I got on Oma and headed home.
Thank goodness I have secure bike parking at the office! There’s no way I could leave Oma chained up outside for 11 hours every day in downtown Chicago. Not with any peace of mind, even with my $135 Abus lock (yes, I really paid that much!). There’s also bike parking in my building’s garage, but I’d have to travel through the dark underworld (see Dark Knight) of Chicago to get there, so I never use it. Do most bike commuters have secure parking at work? If not, what do you do? I guess most cities aren’t as bad for bike theft as Chicago!