Crime and Punishment

4 Jul

Thought I’d try to bring together a few recent blog-worthy items with this title — possibly intriguing either fans of Dostoyevsky or the crime section of the RTD.

Three Feet Law is in Effect!

It’s now official: if a motor vehicle is passing you on the road, they need to give you at least three feet of space.  Virginia law was previously two feet, but now we’re in line with most of the rest of the country.

Even if you do not choose to affix a yard stick to your bike (although that would be an interesting way to test adherence to the law), the law can still help you.  It sends a signal that drivers need to be cautious when passing bicycles.  It can also help if you end up in an accident as the result of someone passing too closely.

Virginia Bicycling Federation has bumper stickers to help spread the word, along with more details on the law.

Dead Bikes

Richmond city council passed a new ordinance over a year ago to deal with issues of bike parking and “dead bikes” — those remnants you sometimes see locked to signs posts or racks and taking up space while they are slowly stripped and rust away.  (See an earlier post here for details on the law).

Maybe this reveals a little of the “get off my lawn” in my personality, but these bikes really get to me, especially when they’re attached to one of the racks installed by the city.  The combination of letting a good bike go to waste and taking up a parking spot just pisses me off.  It doesn’t help that in one case I decided to go straight to police headquarters to ask about removing some of them and received a response along the lines of “That’s not our job.”

I’m happy to say that the city is supposedly working out some of the kinks in dealing with these bikes: according to, “the See Click Fix website is now the preferred route for reporting dead bikes. When reporting, make sure to include “abandoned bikes” or “dead bikes” in your submitted issue.”  That will help those compiling a list of bikes to tag and then remove.  

The best way to lock your bike.  From

The best way to lock your bike. From

Stolen Bikes

Seems crazy that so many bikes rot away while other people have to deal with losing their transportation to theft.  The RTD just reported that about 500 bikes were reported stolen last year in Richmond, and about 28 a month are swiped in the Fan alone.

Bikes usually get stolen because they’re locked with a flimsy lock or not locked properly.  Most bike thieves go for the easiest targets.  The advice in the RTD piece is a good start: use a good lock, lock to something solid, and register your bike so you can claim it if it’s recovered.  A small tree is not a good bike rack, and the law mentioned above also made it illegal to lock your bike to a city tree (it’s really bad for the tree too).  A good lock is a quality U-lock.

The city of Richmond has a page devoted to secure and legal bike parking, and there are lots of lock reviews and other blog posts on the subject.  This one takes the unusual step of interviewing bike thieves in NYC and asking some of them to try their luck with various locks.  The bottom line: a strong U- lock on your frame and back wheel, and possibly a cable or second lock for your front wheel is the way to go.  Cable locks and standard chains and padlocks can be broken in a matter of seconds, a couple of minutes at most.  Locking just a wheel, around the stem or handlebars, or the fork is pretty much an invitation to theft.


One Response to “Crime and Punishment”

  1. billyboneparte42 July 6, 2014 at 2:49 PM #

    I actually thought about attaching 3 ft poles with flags to my handlebars to test drivers. It would make a great video short, I think. I can’t help but to consider the humor in the bike-lane video the guy made in NYC where he ran into everything to prove a point. Wonderful stuff.
    Also, for stolen bikes the main appeal to thieves is idea of getting something very easily: thieves are lazy bastards so they’ll take they can. The more difficult it is to take your the bike, the better.

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