Another bike stolen — again! — from our wheely good editor

The Brooklyn Paper
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I am now officially a three-time loser.

For the third time in just over a year, my bike got stolen, this time in front of my posh Downtown Brooklyn offices.

The first time this happened, last June, the locked bike was stolen from in front of my house. Then, this March, a second locked bike was taken, this time from the garage of our DUMBO offices. After that incident, a Very Good Samaritan gave me a used bike, a gift that I celebrated in these pages.

But last Thursday, I returned to the bike rack in front of our building in Metrotech to find that set of wheels gone. The Kryptonite lock was still in place, but the Master Lock cable — the one that looked so impenetrable just a few days ago was severed like a piece of string.

Now, there will be those among you who will say this is a scam; that, given how some patron of the newspapering arts gave me a bike the last time, I’m playing the sympathy card for yet another two-wheeled donation.

You’re half right — it’s no scam, but I am playing the sympathy card. Three bikes in just over a year. That engenders some sympathy, no?

Apparently, no.

When I told my wife that my bike had been stolen — again! — she look at me as if I had just killed a man in a bar fight after a silly discussion of the best right fielders in Met history (Dave Kingman is NOT an unreasonable answer?).

“You lost another bike?!” she screamed. “How could you?!”

Notice that she didn’t say, “Those bastards violated your essential property rights and fractured our ever-fragile social contract,” but “You lost another bike?! How could you?!”

Clearly, it was time to call a shrink. But I don’t have one, so I called the closest thing that a bike rider has to a therapist nowadays: Wiley Norvell at Transportation Alternatives, who has counseled me through prior bike thefts.

First, he reassured me.

“I don’t think you’re a bad person,” he said.

I sensed a “but” coming.

“But you do have a problem with bike security.”

I have a problem?

“It does not sound as if you are locking your bike as smartly as you can,” he said diplomatically.

Norvell is a Titanic figure in the bike security community right now, having just been featured in a hopelessly over-earnest Wall Street Journal video on the subject, so I listened closely when he gave me his four-point strategy:

• Use two different types of locks because stealing a double-locked bike usually requires two tools.

• Overlap your locks, so even if one is smashed, the other is intact.

• Lock down different parts of your bike because bikes are designed to be taken apart.

• Carefully consider where you lock your bike. “If you’re a bike commuter,” he said, “locking in the same place is an invitation to theft because the thief knows that he has eight hours to get your bike.”

Ignoring for a moment that Norvell was suggesting that I only work an eight-hour day, he had a point. The bike that got stolen had actually been left overnight on the rack between Metrotech and the main Polytech building.

It was a mistake to leave it there overnight, but there are extenuating circumstances (there are, honey, I swear!). In fact, that bike would have been upstairs in my office had the real estate industry not fought Councilman David Yassky’s just-passed “Bikes in Buildings” bill, which allows commuters to bring their wheels inside their offices.

The long-delayed bill was finally signed into law earlier this month, but it doesn’t go in effect until Dec. 11 — and only under some circumstances.

First, your employer must formally request bike access from the building owner, a process that is fraught with office politics. Then the building owner can seek an exemption that would merely require a “sheltered” place for the bike within 750 feet of the front of the building.

That’s so watered-down that I’m worried about rust!

Norvell, of course, has the luxury of bike parking in his office.

“That is the biggest difference between me and you,” he said.

There’s another difference: Norvell never had a bike stolen — and I’ve had three.

“But I don’t think this makes you a bad person,” he concluded. “It stinks that we live in a city where the main hazard of biking is bike theft. But you can get through this with some common sense.”

Alas, perhaps we have finally identified the problem.

Gersh Kuntzman is the Editor of The Brooklyn Paper. E-mail Gersh at
Updated 5:14 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
Condolences, Gersh -- but really. A third time?!

You must first watch this video:

Then get yourself a big Kryptonite New York Chain -- you already have the lock. Yes, it weighs a ton, but it's worth it. Plus, you can use it as a weight belt when you go scuba diving.

Lasty, given your landlord's predilection for surveillance cameras (, there must be video of the thief stealing your bike. You should ask Bruce for the tape.
Aug. 31, 2009, 9:32 am
Steve from Astoria says:
Dude, that little cable is a joke. Not surprised that is was cut. Get a Kryptonite Chain to go with that U-lock.
Aug. 31, 2009, 10:18 am
Samir from DTB says:
I think I have the permanent solution for Mr. Gersh. Wait for tomorrow and its manifestation will be clear to see.
Aug. 31, 2009, 11:05 am
A O from BKLYN says:
Just use a dam Metrocard is the 2.25 fare way over your head?...
Aug. 31, 2009, 11:59 am
Noah from Green Wood Heights says:
Could you describe your locking method. A cable and U Lock should be more than adequate, it looks like your U lock didn't actually secure your bike. Cables should only be used to secure extras such as perhaps a wheel or seat.
Aug. 31, 2009, 12:19 pm
rah from Park SLope says:
Man, I was feeling bad for myself after my bike got stolen from 124th and Broadway yesterday. But having three bikes stolen in a year! You have my deepest sympathies Mr. Kuntzman.
Aug. 31, 2009, 4:20 pm
Steaven Levine from low-Paz and Company says:
I see that you always looking for attention! Only solution get your self a nice car everybody will be happy…. Stop complaining!!!
Aug. 31, 2009, 4:55 pm
Eazy D from Sheepshead Bay says:
Steve Nitwitt did it
Aug. 31, 2009, 5:01 pm
Don Frazier from Murray Hill says:
Next time make sure to register and TAG your bike. Regardless of which service you use, it is super important to tag everything in multiple places, including those wheels that you got pilfered, such as shown in The bad guys may find some of the tags, which they will strip away, but the one that they miss will be their undoing and a shot for you at getting your bike back.
Aug. 31, 2009, 5:18 pm
bhance from Far west says:
Don't forget to register these stolen bikes @ - lots of thieves are getting popped long after the fact if the serial number is on file with the SBR...
Aug. 31, 2009, 5:58 pm
Peter Engel from Stuyvesant Town says:

I always love your writing, but the sympathy card doesn't work anymore. Nor can you lay this one on the City Council or real estate cabal. Wiley's got it right; you've been lacking common sense in your technique, and that Master Lock is a joke.

I've been commuting in midtown and downtown Manhattan over 15 years and have had lights, bells, water cages, a pedal, and even handlebar tape stolen, but NEVER a wheel or frame. It's because of technique, and varying where I park.

If you do the same, I believe that both your relationships -- with your wife, and your bike -- will be just as pleasurable, trusting and long-lasting as you want them to be.
Aug. 31, 2009, 6:37 pm
allyse from upstate ny says:
aww gersh!
in south africa you can get a flamethrower attached to your car so people don't try to carjack you....maybe we can get something like that for you bike....because you need it.
Or just drive a bright pink huffy with streamers and strawberry shortcake stickers on it. that way you can at least laugh about how ridiculous the next guy who is going to steal your bike will look.
Aug. 31, 2009, 9:55 pm
Ben from Windsor Terrace says:
I think you'd have better bike parking karma if you stopped bashing the Fifth Avenue bike lane.
Sept. 2, 2009, 5:34 pm
laura from staten island says:
You think its time for rollerblades...easy to carry and hide under your desk!
Sept. 3, 2009, 5:42 pm
overit from Greenpoint says:
208A Calyer St. in Greenpont. Basement apt.

Has a nice little bike "resale" business and scrap metal business going. Why would one be spray-painting bikes that have no need of a paint job? Ring Bell #1. Ask for John.
Sept. 3, 2009, 7:29 pm
Garrett from Brooklyn Heights says:
Sept. 11, 2009, 9:56 am
Bat from Park Slope says:
Stop being a Wuz! Buy a Harley !
Oct. 5, 2010, 1:41 pm

Comments closed.

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