Bike racks: the stories they tell and what they say about you

Photo courtesy of Jason Juang, Student Publications

It is the classic shopping cart problem. A theory that supposedly tests someone’s moral character and capacity to be self-governing based on their decision to return their shopping cart or leave it unescorted in the parking lot.

Internet laypeople postulate this critical or not-so-critical decision as a metaphor of society’s social contact in determining whether or not humans truly are moral creatures. Instead of a grand test of social incentives, consider this, you are the person who does not hang their bike up properly in the North Avenue bike room.

Clearly, there is a lot to be read from someone’s moral character and capacity to be self-governing if it is left sloppily unracked on the ground. There is a lot to be told from the way someone leaves their two wheeled impediment locked in the middle of the general footpath that every single-rule conscious biker has to take to exit. Simply put, if you aren’t willing to hang your bike up, you shouldn’t be owning a bike. However, if you own a bike that cannot be physically racked, what I am about to write about doesn’t apply to you.

Our society’s rules are fragile, and so is my patience for those who decide to leave their bikes, outcast and forsaken, against the unforgiving concrete earth. Why someone would choose to ignore the precedent set by every other person in the room is beyond my comprehension.

It is a simple action to lift a bike into the allotted bike rack. You simply wheel the bike up and gently settle the bike into its metal cradle. There’s no need to bother the rest of us, responsible members of bike society, with your bike strewn on the ground like a lost toy. In the process of squeezing your own bike past the grounded ride, you realize that these people never really cared about social contracts or moral character, just their own selfish desires to leave their bike as fast as possible.

There is no one to clean up after these people, nobody to clean up after them or higher power to undo their wrongs. The rest of the people in the room just see the aftermath of a few people’s apathy to the rest of the biking community. So with this careless display, we learn that some people have fostered some apathetic disregard to the respectful process of racking their bikes. Based on the amount of dust on the racks, these bike racks have easily seen hundreds of people peacefully settle their bikes into their metal bays, and just like cart corrals, they’ll live on to see hundreds more go on to leave their intended passengers by the wayside.

And as another car gets scratched by another runaway cart or as another person gets hooked by an unsecured bike part, we should all wonder what the purpose of bike racks are and who they are truly made for. So, if you have a bike and you want to use the rack, please hang it up properly.