Abandoned bikes are an eyesore for the city and two that I had been watching for months really started bugging me. Minneapolis, in my opinion, should have removed them a long time ago. I decided to dig into the problem a little and maybe write a blistering editorial about the city’s indifference to this blight.
That’s when I discovered that the problem wasn’t with the city. Their policy is quite simple. Call 311, their number for all city services, or email email@example.com and tell them where the abandoned bike is located. They will take care of it.
City policy, which applies only to bikes on public property, is that an unlocked bike or a bike that is parked illegally will be removed immediately. A locked bike will be tagged for 24 hours to give the owner time to claim it, then it will be removed.
I sent an email explaining where each of the two bikes was located and what I had observed. Both bikes were removed in less than a week.
The key here is citizen involvement. The city doesn’t just swoop down and take away bikes, it waits for someone to complain. I like that approach, and with that knowledge, I’ll be more vigilant.
What I won’t do is report an abandoned bike within 24 hours. There are all sorts of legitimate reasons why a rider may leave his or her bike unattended for several days or more. I have no desire to create a hassle for those riders. But when a bike starts showing signs of neglect: a rusty chain, flat tires, missing components, I’ll make the call or send the email.