Tour de Lab September 1st

It’s just a u-lock, but its recovery shows power of kindness (and Twitter)

Posted by on February 6th, 2017 at 2:07 pm

Couldn’t hurt to try.

Ever see something in the roadway as you pedal by and think to yourself, “I wonder if someone’s missing that?” Happens to me pretty often. I see things like gloves, glasses and keys. I usually don’t stop to pick things up. I’m either in a hurry, or I figure the person who dropped it might roll back to that general area and find it themselves, or I simply don’t feel like getting involved.

Besides, what are the chances of finding the person anyways?

Well, with today’s use of social media so widespread, the chances are actually pretty good.

Case in point: On January 12th, reader Chris S. emailed us:

“I was riding into work this morning and found a pretty new Kryptonite lock on the ground. Do you have any good ideas on how to try to find the owner? This is a good 50-60 buck lock. I figured leaving it was just risking it to get lost forever. This was at 39th and Clinton.”

I immediately thought of Twitter. I replied to Chris on January 30th and said I’d be happy to Tweet an image of the lock. “It seems like such a long shot getting this back to the owner,” Chris said.

Inspired by Chris’ kindness and persistence, I figured a Tweet was the least I could do.

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And guess what? Just a day later we heard from Rod @portlandfrog. “I think it’s mine! It fell off my bag on a bumpy ride during a snow day,” he wrote. “I’d love it back, I still have the key for it.”

Rod and Chris arranged to meet. An in-person connection didn’t happen, so Chris just dropped the lock off on Rod’s porch.

A happy man this morning, using the u-lock he thought was lost forever.
(Photo: Selfie by Rod)

We heard from Rod on Thursday that he’s once again in possession of his u-lock. “It’s really nice to see we look out for each other in the biking community. Keep up the good work and thanks again.”

And this morning, Rod sent us a photo of himself at work just prior to locking up for the day. “Was able to secure my bike at work again this morning, thanks to you and Chris!”

We love happy endings.

Thanks to Chris for going the extra mile.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

30 Comments
  • Go By Bike
    Go By Bike February 6, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    remember seeing that tweet and thinking, “no way” glad it found it’s way back home!

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    J_R February 6, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    I’ve found numerous sets of keys, a couple cell phones, and various other stuff. I’ve always posted on craigslist and never been able to get the items back to the original owner.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 6, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      maybe next time send me a photo and i’ll tweet it from BikePortland account. We have a really big following (over 23,000) relative to the amount of people biking in Portland. couldn’t hurt!

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        Todd Boulanger February 6, 2017 at 3:00 pm

        as many Tweet users a Trump’s account…I think 😉

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          Gary B February 7, 2017 at 8:52 am

          JM is qualified to be President of the US. Who knew!

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      Spiffy February 7, 2017 at 9:11 am

      I’ve done the same with similar results…

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    Smitherman February 6, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    Thanks for the warm and fuzzy story, Jonathan! I’m the guy that found the lock and got in touch with you. Thanks again for helping out. I felt like a pile of garbage last week with whatever was going around so I rode by Rod’s house and dropped the lock on his porch. Rod, I’m stoked you got your lock back! You still owe me a coffee!

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    drew February 6, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    I have sent 3 smartphones back to their (frantic) owners over the years, finding them on the road while on a bike ride. Makes it easy when the phone has a text on it, with contact info. Several others I found had been crushed by cars and had no ID info; they went to recycling.

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    Tim February 6, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Found a credit card in the gutter and called the card company. The card company acted like they did know what to do about a found credit card and kept wanting to know how I came to be in possession of said card. “ah – I stopped my bike and picked it up”. Eventually they told me to destroy the card. I later looked up a phone number for someone in the same neighborhood with the same name. Called the number and yes he had lost a card, but the card company hadn’t contacted him that it had been found. Lesson learned.

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      Andrea Capp February 6, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      Yes! I had this happen too when I found a wallet. I asked the bank if they would contact the owner so she could get her wallet back but they wouldn’t, they only cancelled her card. I finally found her on facebook and was able to return it.

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    curly February 6, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    I lost a red pannier on 76th and Division last year while crossing a steel plate at the same time as a dump truck. Made it to work only to discover missing pannier. Went back to the location and someone had set it next to a sign pole on the corner. Thanks for the honesty and courtesy of a fellow human. I’m guessing a fellow cyclist. Made my day!

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  • Mike G
    Mike G February 6, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    In my meanderings around town, I discovered that my cel phone had fallen out of my fanny pack after I failed to zip it. (argh). After re-tracing my path, I didn’t find it and resigned to the loss.

    A day later, a security office from one of the industrial companies called my wife saying that while he was cycling to work, he found my phone on the railway crossing the Steel Bridge I had trundled over. Her number was listed by HER NAME and WIFE so someone would know who to call.

    To my total surprise I got it back, no worse for the wear (or train wheel marks) with many thanks to another cyclist.

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    Justin M February 6, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    I’m just gonna say it. Cyclists are just clearly better than regular people. There. I’ve said it.

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      Andy K February 7, 2017 at 8:37 am

      This is the same phenomenon you experience when you’re on the side of the road changing a flat and the majority of cyclists riding by ask to see if you’re ok or if you need help.

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    Caitlin D February 6, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Yay for the kindness of strangers!

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    dan February 7, 2017 at 12:05 am

    One time I was towing my dog in a trailer and a cyclist in front of me dropped a garage door opener. I pursued as best I could, but my dog+trailer is about 100 lbs, if she hadn’t gotten stuck waiting to cross SE 7th, she would have never gotten that opener back 🙂

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    Stephen Keller February 7, 2017 at 7:46 am

    Similar story: I lost my wallet and employer ID/access card out of an unzipped pocket during my commute down the bikeway along highway 26 out to Hillsboro. A very nice fellow cyclist on his way into work found them, figured out my company’s local phone number and called to let me know he had found my wallet, and that I didn’t need to panic. He stayed late at work that evening to give me time to get to his office and pickup my wallet, and he refused any reward. I’ll never forget his kindness.

    Two lessons I learned that day: 1) there are good people out there; 2) don’t put the MAX train ticket in the same zippered pocket as the wallet.

    Stph

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    Steve Scarich February 7, 2017 at 9:11 am

    I have found an amazing variety of stuff in my decades of cycling (tools, cash, cellphones, gloves, glasses, on and on). Examples: two nearly brand new pair of Oakleys (one a $200+ pair which I saw the guy drop, but could not catch him in SoCal to return) and a cellphone belonging to a Nike exec. I e-mailed him, sent the phone to him, and in return, he gave me a $200 on-line coupon for Nike stuff. I do not stop for orphan gloves, though.

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    Spiffy February 7, 2017 at 9:17 am

    I haven’t had any luck returning found items via posting them on the Shift email list or on craigslist lost and found…

    the one time I was able to return an item was only because the person lost their entire wallet and I found the contents strung long the side of the road… their license still had their current address and they were home when I arrived…

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    dudeluna February 7, 2017 at 10:39 am

    i tend to tweet photos of things i find on my rides. or if i’m on moody i’ll drop it off at the Go By Bike lost and found. i did find a vape contraption on a TNR that i posted on craigslist that got back to the owner.

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    Stephen Keller February 7, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    dudeluna
    … on a TNR….

    Trap-Neuter-Return, the TRN gene (Tenascin), Talk Network Radio? Google was not at all helpful. What’s a TNR?

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      mh February 11, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      Thursday Night Ride, probably.

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    fourknees February 7, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    Need more of these stories on bikeportland and other news outlets… Since we’re all sharing…
    Fanno Creek Trail going north approaching Denny…while riding with family a fellow cyclist swung wide to pass a walker further up and saw something popped off his bike. When we got there we realized it was his wallet. Proceeded to ride him down on a cruiser (up the denny/217 over pass) with daughter in tow in the weehoo trailer and finally caught him at the light. At first he was totally not sure what was happening…he only heard yelling, not words due to 217 traffic noise/me out of breath…Then it blew his mind…he was thankful…beer was offered…declined and said to pay it forward…
    Of course probably could have more easily looked up his address on his drivers license and returned later.

    Agree with others, usually leave items unless it is of value/has a contact on it as I’ve dropped things and then doubled back the next day to find it. I’m always amazed at what is on the ground/ditch (in addition to just general litter). I always tend to see hand tools and alarm clocks?!

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    Benn Schonman February 7, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    lost a black leather mudflap w/2 small rectangular reflectors on Thursday…had it for 20+ years.
    My rain bike is heartbroken!! Come home please!

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      Stephen Keller February 8, 2017 at 11:35 am

      What route were you on that day? If it’s one I frequent, I’ll do my best to keep an eye out for it.

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    K'Tesh February 7, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    I’ve found and returned wallets, A cop’s leather pad (used for writing tickets)(turned out to be a graduation gift to the officer from his family, and had some sentimental value to him), and several (highly battered usually) functional cell phones. I once got a $50 reward by a guy who was so thrilled to get his back.

    Then there’s the things that I couldn’t identify the owner (bikes, knives, $20.00 bills, iPod). Mind you, I did try to find the owners of the bikes and the iPod. Afterwards, while working for Apple, I found that Apple has a policy not to assist finders of items to return them to their owners.

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    Benn Schonman February 9, 2017 at 9:24 am

    Thanks Stephen
    I was riding on Ankeny (Laurelhurst to 7th) & Espanade from OMSI to Oaks Bottom

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      Stephen Keller February 13, 2017 at 12:06 pm

      Sorry about the delayed reply. I did not see your route until just now. I ride the Esplanade-Oaks Bottom section frequently; not so much on Ankeny. I’ll try to keep an eye out and let you know if the flap turns up. If you are the same Benn Schonman that I met on one of the Portland Wheelmen rides a few years ago, I think I still have your contact info.

      Stph

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    Joe February 9, 2017 at 11:56 am

    maybe their is hope to find my lost lock. 🙂

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    mh February 11, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Lost my State of Oregon ID/access card and had it found by another bike commuting state employee working a different building some miles away. He knew what a pain it is to have no access, and how long the state takes to replace IDs.

    I got a county employee’s ID back to him. Now if someone could find the necklace you see part of in my little picture – steel wires and a big rectangular crystal set in a silver almost-box… It’s been years since it fell off on a morning commute, and I still miss it.

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