Los Angeles City Council voted 11-3 Tuesday in favor of a new law that would target people who sell and repair used bikes in public without a permit. The ordinance targets bicycle thieves who live outside and critics say it unfairly targets homeless people.
Bicycle “chop shops” are relatively common in Portland. We’ve reported on Portland Police Bureau investigations in the past where known criminals were stripping down stolen bikes into stacks of separate parts in order to profit off the sale of the bikes and/or to anonymize the bikes and prevent them from being recovered by theft victims or police.
But there’s a wide spectrum of bicycle activity in homeless camps. Many people who live on the street rely on bikes to get around. And just like people with houses and garages, they have a right to own more than one bike, to fix them, and to sell them to other people. There’s also the right to remain innocent until proven guilty, which is one reason I didn’t refer to a camp on SE Alder Street as a ‘chop shop’ in a story last month.
When we reported on how tricky this issue is for Portland Police Bureau officers to navigate back in 2013, Sergeant Brian Hughes said, “Just because they’re living outside and have a lot of bikes, doesn’t mean they’re bike thieves. They’re entitled to work on a bike just as much as anyone anywhere else.”
L.A. City Council added language to their ordinance to make sure the law doesn’t catch innocent people, but laws enforced by police against vulnerable people have a way of being abused and unfairly implemented. It’s also worth noting that L.A.’s effort is championed by a politician who ran for office on a platform of removing homeless encampments from public places.
Here’s the salient text of the ordinance:
Except as otherwise stated in this section, no person shall assemble, disassemble, sell, offered to sell distribute, offered to distribute or store the following items on public property within the city:
• Five or more bicycle parts
• A bicycle frame with the gear cables or brake cables cut
• Two or more bicycles with missing bicycle parts; or three or more bicycles.
The prohibitions shall not apply to:
• A person operating under a valid city business license or permit authorizing such activities.
• A person in possession of a single bicycle, which is being repaired as a result of malfunction or damage that occurred while a person rode the bicycle on public property. The sole purpose of the repair shall be to restore the bicycle to its operational form and enable the person to resume riding the bicycle.
In a detailed story about the ordinance and its local political and policy context, Streetsblog LA reporter Sarah Sulaiman wrote, “It remains to be seen what enforcement of the ordinance will look like in practice.”
It also remains to be seen if Portland City Council would ever attempt something like this. Given the politics around homelessness and cycling here, I doubt we’d ever see an attempt at a similar law. But these days it’s not a good idea to predict anything when it comes to complicated issues.
If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.
I think your arm might be sore for patting yourself on the back at the “empathy” you show… LA has had it, Portland is getting there. Since you imply that someone living on the street could actually legally own 10 bikes, maybe they should apply that money towards some housing?
If you don’t think that is a chop shop in the picture you posted, what do you think it is?
Your dedication to criticizing me and trying to shoot holes in my positions is admirable dwk.
As I’ve said 1 million times. As a journalist and person who wants to be taken seriously in our community, I will not call something a “chop shop” unless I have some proof or evidence that the bikes are stolen. I have used that term many times in the past when the police have confirmed stolen bikes being present. It’s a simple issue of wanting to be accurate and fair. It is also an issue of a slippery slope and wanting to defer to caution when the well-being of vulnerable/marginalized people are involved. Thanks for your comment.
Hilarious… the person in the picture standing by what looks like about 10 stripped bike frames is just a collector until you see proof…
It’s this enabler mentality that is just absolutely destroying our communities.
I don’t see a shopping cart in the photo, but I see them in almost every camp I pass on the paths in and around Portland. The presence of a shopping cart labeled Safeway, Target, etc is, for me, proof positive that a thief is or was in the camp. It does not mean that everyone is a thief, but someone is!
Of course journalists should always assume innocence in reporting crimes. Lay out the facts bluntly and let readers draw their own conclusions. As a journalist, you do not need to call the scene that was at SE Alder a chop shop. Just show your readers the picture and accurately describe what is there, and the readers will understand what it is.
Sergeant Hughes was right to say that police likewise cannot assume guilt just by seeing. They have to investigate before acting. Nonetheless, there is good reason to ask questions of people who store a high number of bikes and bike parts out in the open on public property, especially if you are aware of how frequently bikes are stolen. Furthermore, people living on the street are not automatically entitled to be looked upon as any more vulnerable or marginalized than anyone else. These are adults who have made choices and should be expected to behave legally and with respect toward their surroundings and other people. Your lot in life does not excuse you from being a thoughtful and considerate person. If you’re a law abiding, aspiring bike entrepreneur and living on the street, your priority should be to seek proper public assistance so your operation does not become a nuisance of other people who need to use the public right of way and have to abide by the relevant city ordinances.
People living on the street have to be held responsible for themselves and their actions, not treated as mere victims of circumstance, who just get a pass cause life ain’t fair.
Please describe the public assistance that is available to a person who wants to support themself and serve the public by starting a legitimate business. It’s a good idea!
It’s called the SBA (Small Business Administration). They have an outstanding program that provides loans to people starting small businesses:
If you are on the street and have a skill for fixing and selling bikes, you might want to set a more manageable goal, like finding a job in an established bike shop. That’s probably what I would do if I found myself on the street, rather than try to set up my own business from scratch. I’d go to the library, get some leads from Bike Portland and spend my day going to different shops applying for work till I got it.
Of course if I had a drug abuse and/or a mental health problem I was not able to manage, then getting help would be my priority. If I couldn’t be bothered to get help because I blamed my circumstances on what others owed me or on Life, then I’d probably abuse my bike skills and steal to earn just enough to feed my addiction or to keep myself “free of Life’s burdens.” I probably wouldn’t care that much what others thought about me, and it would show.
Even then I would probably hope deep down someone I knew would come kick me in the butt and shake me out of it, so I could move toward a higher place. If people looked down on me I would definitely feel it was deserved, and I’d think of myself as a bum. That hell would hopefully be enough for me to shake myself out thinking I was merely vulnerable to external forces outside my control and that I needed to find the strength in myself to move upward step by step.
Comment of the week, maybe the year!
IMO it’s only an extremely small sliver of our community that bothers to lie to themselves about the criminality that goes on in these camps.
To me the biggest problem isn’t so much that you don’t call it a chop shop, its when you add helper text that, I assume, is in there to try and maintain a shred “neutrality” about whats going on there. The text about how important bikes are to homeless people and ‘innocent until proven guilty’ stuff makes a lot of your readers take you less seriously because it seems like you actually might believe that the massive pile of stolen bikes isn’t exactly what it looks like.
There are a lot of terms you could use. You could even say ‘is visibally consisten with sites that were found to be chop shops in the past’ or something.
Remember, there are a lot of working class Portlanders who need their bikes and have them spirited away from their home, work, or just any old place they park them. They are negatively impacted by the ‘chop shop’ culture.
Yes I hear you cc_rider. It’s a very difficult issue to navigate. I appreciate your feedback.
When someone disagrees with you, try to dispute the substance of their point without resorting to pretending to be able to read their mind.
I agree with you that “chop shop” is the obvious name for a sprawling pile of torn-apart and spray-painted bikes, but unfounded accusations of malice are tiresome.
You are right… however Neo liberal sympathies like JM has are directed in the wrong place..
Real progressives have sympathy for the mostly poor people that are being targeted and stolen from by criminals like the ones shown on the picture.
Those certainly stolen bikes are generally low end bikes stolen from people who can’t afford to replace them.
That’s who I care about.
The difference between LA and Portland is that Portland (motto: “The City that’s Woke”) has only innocent people undertaking bicycle repair on public streets. We don’t need no stinkin’ ordinance that could have a negative adverse impact on the hordes of hardworking, law-abiding, drug-free folks who just happen to be houseless because of the wealthy, property class. /s/
Maybe some examples of your ad hominem characterization of police abuse would be useful. Your stance is typical of letting the perfect stand in the way of the good. No law will ever be perfect, and I suggest that if you were serious about shutting down chop shops, you would come up with a wording that you found palatable.
Bike thieves feeling “targeted” because of a crackdown on illegal chop shops?
Cry me a river.
And no, people do not have the right to operate an unpermitted bike repair and sales business on the sidewalk or street, even if their wares are obtained in a legitimate manner. Living outdoors does not grant some magical exemption from the law.
Shutting down these operations should be straightforward, even without proving that the bikes are stolen. Just examine the paperwork that any business is required to have.
I am sure the local bike shops love the competition that BP thinks is fine…
I help run a (barely) “legitimate” nonprofit chop-shop operation here in Greensboro NC. We collect and process about 600 donated bicycles per year from other nonprofits, the police, individuals, churches, and so on. This year we gave away about 75 bikes to Afghan refugees plus other bikes to the homeless, the nearly homeless, inner-city black kids, and to the working poor. We also typically sell about 25 used bicycles and scrap about 200 bikes.
From my experience in working with our volunteers (I’m a volunteer too) and in meeting with other chop-shop operators (including other nonprofits but mostly illegitimate back yard operations), I’ve come to some basic conclusions about the chop-shop industry at least in pleasantly mediocre cities like Greensboro (as we are clearly not on par with lofty Portland):
I am quite confident your non-profit has some paperwork such as a business license, tax return, etc. that establishes it as a legitimate operation.
We do not, or not quite anyway. Sorry. We file taxes with the IRS about once every three years as we are required to, but nothing with the state and we don’t have a local business license, both of which we are supposed to do but probably never will. 2 months ago we started operating out of an old grade-F parks dept maintenance building on a flood plain – free water, heat, power, a/c for about $85/month – the annual price of our accident insurance. It probably got flooded this evening after a major thunder storm. We have two local snakes to deal with the critters. Our parks dept, police, and our transportation department are willing to work with us, so in that sense we are “legitimate”, but not in a business sense, and our insurance doesn’t allow us to do the sales we make. And no one from the city really cares one way or the other. Some of the other nonprofits I talk with are horrified by our slack standards, others are more or less in the same boat – you can get really distracted from your core mission if you actually follow all the rules.
Are you really saying there is no way that someone could distinguish your operation from a chop shop operating illegally on the street?
We are a chop shop that actually combines two others that were previously being operated out of people’s homes and yards, and we are somewhat being sanctioned/approved by our city by being in an old city building in the middle of a huge public park in the poorest part of town. Otherwise we are more or less indistinguishable from an on-street operation and we “employ” many of the same people who were doing it, making the same mistakes. I’m pretty sure none of our bikes are stolen, but there’s no way for us to prove it nor are we going to try. We do receive abandoned bikes from universities (about half of our stock) and bikes from the police evidence room, plus lots that were thrown into peoples’ trash. We are somewhere between a street-level chop shop and a bike kitchen, but not yet a bike coop. Our set up is still pretty slack, not at all professional. We are operating at a constant loss with parts stolen or wrecked, tools lost or wrecked, and many good bikes rendered unusable. If we didn’t have the high fences, I’m sure more bikes would get stolen – and we have about 100 Next and Magna bikes that we would love to have stolen, preferably last week. I’d call in scrap collectors except I can’t get our volunteers to agree on what should go, or on much of anything really…just about everyone involved has “issues”…
The text of the LA law seems to make a good effort to address whether the bikes are a chop shop or a person’s used parts bin for repairing their bike. Perhaps if we had data on how big the pile needs to be to contain, say, 10% or greater stolen bikes (stolen bikes that the owner reported the theft and serial number to the police), we could craft a similar law to cut into the criminal’s business and preserve individual liberty. ALWAYS report a stolen bike BTW.
Good for LA! Now let’s start sweeps here in PDX immediately. Time to take our city back.
As long as there is a huge market demand for chop shop bikes (and chop shop cars) and no real and consistent local enforcement of the law, I don’t see how this ordinance or any other is going to do what it intended. I see no extra funding for the policing needed, so what I do see is an attempted “easy fix” of an otherwise very complex social and industrial issue.
Chop shops are ugly and a bit of an industrial blight on our streets and back yards, but they do apparently fulfill a needed market niche in our communities for cheap transportation that our bricks-and-mortar bike shops are unable or unwilling to supply – if the need wasn’t there and there was no market, why would the chop shops even exist?
The “need” exists because criminal drug addicts need a way to finance their next drug buy.
How are the drug dealers making money on stolen bikes? Who is buying them? Where are they being sold and for how much? Are sales on Craiglist, Facebook, eBay, or outside somewhere?
I can think of a lot of commodities that are easier to steal, more valuable, and easier move around than a huge clunky bike, such as cell phones, credit card receipts, and prescription drugs. Once a bike has been parted out, it’s “Bluebook” value drops from $100-$60 to its metal content of roughly $3, and most of the parts are utterly worthless.
When I see a pile of bikes on the street, I rather doubt any of them are stolen at all – most are likely other people’s trash.
If your neighbors are buying these used chop-shop bikes or their parts, then that is a completely different problem having to do fencing, pawning, online sales, and vastly overpriced new parts – in other words, the demand for this stuff rather than the supply of it. These ordinances will do nothing to abate such demand – if anything, it will merely call out the markets for it to suppliers from other communities.
An app called OfferUp. It’s not uncommon to see a listing where the bike is obviously located in a camp, there will be tarps and tents in the background, or it will be lashed to a derelict RV, etc. Looking at the other items the seller has listed usually reveals a cornucopia of power tools and random stuff stolen from peoples’ vehicles. OfferUp is where a thief turns after they get blacklisted for selling stolen goods to the pawn shops.
Thank you. This is very helpful.
Addiction is not inherently criminal. Some drugs are more stylish than others but many legal occupations (including my own) are rife with substance abuse. It’s not unheard of for MDs to abuse drugs. Cops, drummers, dishwashers…many are sober, some use drugs.
Please don’t generalize about people living on the street. Some use drugs, some use and hate it, some have hard-won sobriety, others are victimized by criminals who steal to get drugs. One of the biggest challenges of life on the street is keeping track of the necessary things a person needs to carry on a life. I know by sight several people who go through every day with their household on their back.
Equating functional adults who use drugs with homeless addicts who steal to pay the bills is ridiculous…. like I said, Neo liberals care about all the wrong people.
People who are victimizing other people need to be arrested, period,
Working class poor are the victims, not the addicts on the street.
Where will you put these arrested people? Arrest does not solve their problems. Storing people who are in custody costs money, you can bill them for that but good luck collecting. An arrest record makes them less able to function in the future. A bad rap means even if you have money you can’t rent, and even with skills it’s hard to get work. Sure, arrest a bunch of people, that’s the answer for everything.
Cops are disaffected and one reason is that our model of policing puts them in an adversarial position to every person who is somehow not making it. See “perps”. Yeah cops have to be resilient to do the job but the number of people who won’t make eye contact is a force that never sleeps. It’s a psychic tax on a career in law enforcement.
Not incarcerating criminals and allowing lawlessness to become the norm has an even greater cost to society than what you describe – it eventually leads to the breakdown of society. As for the the poor criminal who is concerned about about having a “bad rap” post incarceration, well there a simple way to avoid that – don’t be a criminal.
So you don’t believe in arresting people who steal from other people?
Nice society you want to live in.
What exactly is your line to cross for being arrested?
Seriously, you might want to think about what you just posted.
I thought about it. I’ve had stuff stolen and in each case I knew it was partly my fault because my straight edge depression baby parents let me know that shit happens and locks keep honest people honest. If it’s precious you keep an eye on it.
Think of a jail as a hydraulic brake line. You push something in one end, something comes out the other end with the same pressure. If you put a bike thief in who comes out?
Plentiful jails may be part of the GNP but the G is for gross. People don’t get straight in jail but they do learn stuff. Jails bring down prisoners and guards just the same.
Meh, San Francisco just ran this experiment with Chesa Boudin. It worked exactly how anyone with a sense of reality said it would and fortunately he was recalled. If only we had the same sense here and could do the same with Mike Schmidt.
The “addicts on the street” are working class poor. Many of them have jobs. Others steal to survive. You’re just defining “functioning adult” as someone not living on the street.
And you don’t know what neo liberal means, you keep spamming it around like you think it means “really liberal”.
You do raise an interesting point. Who are their customers? At least in Bend there is a pretty small market for reworked beater bikes. I used to live in Eugene and had multiple bikes stolen. My FSR was recovered, but the fork had been replaced with a POS and the rear suspension had been turned upside down or something. I’m sure the ‘mechanic’ was going to try to sell it, but who would want a $1000 bike converted into a $200 POS?
In the “new meth” article in the Atlantic, the author described how bike disassembly/reassembly provided good “focus work” for people spun out on gak. Perhaps there is an element of disordered thinking among those in “the business” that leads to choices that seem baffling to the sober.
Sigh, yeah. I’ve seen it all too often, a nice wheel and good brakes taken off a perfectly good bike-shop quality bike and put on a Next or Magna just so the dumb mechanic can prove that they can do it, mechanically. And then we have to kindly explain to them why it was such a useless dumb thing to do. The mechanic has the skill but really poor judgement. Repeat on a hundred bikes and you quickly start to generate large piles of useless and worthless bicycles that are simply not rideable. When I see a huge piles on the street, I see an industrious mechanic with poor judgement skills and either mental or addiction issues (or both.)
Let’s legalize bicycle theft itself. If the chop shop operators trading in stolen bikes are going to have it good, so should the thieves themselves!
You’re so right. Conventionally housed people thinking that they have the right to “own” a bicycle or a catalytic converter is nothing but a form of classist genocide.
Some years ago my neighbor was running an unlicensed car repair business out of his garage and on the street. He fulfilled a “need” for repair services at a fraction of the cost of legitimate repair shops. However, it came with a very negative cost to the community. He would frequently get into screaming matches with dissatisfied customers. He would pour used motor oil down the storm drain. Customer cars would be parked blocking resident’s driveways. And so on.
I think most people would agree that unlicensed car repair businesses should not be out in the public, and I don’t see how it should be different for bike chop shops.
It’s a sensible law, hopefully we do something similar. I agree with you, Jonathan, that we shouldn’t assume guilt. But there’s also no particular reason we should tolerate businesses operating on public property without a license, even if all of their goods are legitimately acquired. If someone wants to run a bike shop, they should get a business license and do it on private property. Even then, I expect a fair number of stolen bikes go through used bike shops. It’s almost impossible to track. But requiring that bike shops operate on private property with a business license creates a barrier to entry for the worst/most unethical dealers, and it’s a concept worth supporting.
Good. Bike thieves suck. I think we need to stop doing mental gymnastics around these piles of stripped bikes claiming they were all purchased by that tweaked out person with their hard earned money. I mean really folks, let’s get real here.
No one asking why these chop shops exist? Maybe we should be asking why these people are turning to illegal activity in the first place, instead of criminalizing their actions that they perform in order to survive. Clearly some needs of theirs are not being met and the easiest way to satisfy those needs is to be a criminal. It is disgusting to see so many people cheer on for a homlessness-to-prison pipeline.
Their “needs” are more meth and opioids.
They want to buy drugs. Is your solution free drugs?
Free drugs? It sounds crazy, right?
Imagine a place where a person can walk in a door and show a card that says “my name is Pat and I’m addicted to _____”. The person at the counter says “hey Pat how’s it going” and then Pat picks a door. Door A leads to an addiction counselor. Door B leads to clean needles and free drugs. Pat gets to decide.
Our failed model of drug prohibition supports crime lords, corrupts governments, and finances the Taliban. It sounds whack but the connections are out in plain sight. There are hit TV shows about this. Pat is going to get the drugs regardless…our current plan features medical emergencies, dead people, overworked cops, scary mf with guns, and more people in jail than any other country that you actually know the name of. It costs a lot of money and there’s nothing moral about it.
Fentanal and Meth make people psychotic. You have never worked with the drug addicts have you?
*** Moderator: Deleted two sentences ***
There are violent criminals victimizing poor working people and non addicted homeless people.
*** Moderator: deleted last sentence ***
Most censored blog in town. Wonder why that is.
That’s so funny Tomas. You and dwk comment all the time and say all types of stuff here, much of it highly critical of myself and others, yet it is still posted. Then you like to act like I do a bunch of censoring. I wonder why that is?
How’s that work for other addictions? I’m addicted to food; is there going to be a place where I can walk in and have a choice of free food or a food counselor? How about sex? I like sex, and I could see myself getting addicted to it if I could walk into a shop, have free, clean sex and walk out (and walk back in after my refractory period). And don’t get me started on gambling. I don’t like gambling, but if I had a choice between gambling free money, and not gambling well, I’m listening.
Just curious where this ends.
Point taken. I have a taste for some things but none of them are status crimes. Liking, possessing or consuming beer won’t get me busted, DUII excepted.
Prohibition of alcohol was such a failure that we put the beverage alcohol business in the Constitution. Now there are 50 styles of IPA.
Prohibition of other drugs including really gross shit like meth and fentanyl, under capitalism, has resulted in a booming illegal free market for worse and worse drugs. No I wouldn’t hand those things out.
I would use the huge purchasing power of government to cut a big chunk out of the profit in the illegal market and give addicts another door to go through, without the rap sheet, without the guilt trip, and with treatment always available.
Drug treatment counselors should have the same pay and perks as law enforcement. Some cops might like to get off the street as well.
Meth and fentanyl are decriminalized in small amounts in Portland.. a mistake that will probably be repealed at some point as we now have a huge problem of psychosis occurring in addicts in case you have not noticed….
There is no “free” market for drugs either, I have no idea where that came from.
They cost money which is why addicts steal things.
Do you live here?
Yes, actually, free food sounds fine and good. None of your other suggestions make any sense.
No one is forcing them to conduct illegal activity. There are plenty of perfectly legal ways to earn money.
They are criminals and there are absolutely no excuses for that kind of behavior. Their history, their housing status, their addictions matter not.
Do the crime, do the time.
When no one will hire you because you are homeless and there are only so many odd jobs out there. And to say that many of them are mentally stable enough to hold down a job would be wrong. This is a systemic issue and throwing them into jail is doing no one good.
[*I believe we’re talking about criminals, not random homeless people.]
Well… folks are not victimizing members of the public while they’re in jail.
I totally wish we’d invest in a more rehabilitative system, and I hope Oregon figures out how to spend all that rehab money effectively, but I don’t find jailing repeat criminals particularly troubling.
It’s not like leaving folks on the streets is doing much except convincing the public that progressives can’t govern.
And letting them run free to do whatever they want, theft, violence, etc is doing no one any favors.
Maybe jail is exactly where some need to go. Once the word gets out that illegal behavior is again being prosecuted then maybe they’d make better choices and that such criminality is unwelcome in Portland.
Letting them live in their own filth and terrorize others may be your preference but I have zero tolerance for breaking the law.
Thank you. More people driving 25 will cut down vehicular violence faster than anything else.
I agree. However, I lose little sleep over the habitual-criminal-to-prison-pipeline.
People just don’t care, they have decided dehumanization is the way to go. To treat homeless people as humans requires recognizing that you too could be in their position surprisingly easily. People don’t want to admit that. It scares them. So they hide and wonder why these animals are simply CHOOSING of their own free will to be drug addicted, depressed and living on the street. Although they don’t normally recognize depression either, because that’s something that affects humans, which homeless people clearly aren’t.
For some, it absolutely is a choice and a lifestyle. Many others are stuck because they need help and, despite generous funding, our hapless city and county and state government is unable to provide sufficient shelter so that folks don’t need to camp outdoors and sufficient treatment to help people get better.
The tone i’m getting from the ‘pro-homelessness’ folks is ‘Bike theft? What bike theft?’ Try leaving your bicycle unlocked for a half hour. Try leaving it chain locked for a full day here in downtown Portland. It WILL be gone! Now, does every stolen bike end up parted out? No, of course not. Does any stolen bike end up parted out.
Yes. For that reason alone on-the-street-chop shops should be banned.
Apparently police in this town do not have time to investigate this possible criminal activity (or just about any other, for that matter); to go looking into these on the street shops for serial #’s tied to stolen bikes.What’s the solution? MAKE ON THE STREET CHOP SHOPS ILLEGAL!!!
Congrats on not referring to a chop shop as a chop shop. Would you like a pat on the back and a kiss on the mouth?
Homeless people are of course allowed to own multiple bikes, but you are probably nursing a crystal meth addiction if you think the people at these “bike workshops” own any of the shit at them.
Chop shops exist because people buy the chop. And, bets re on. Most buyers are critics of chop shops.
The increased and constant threat of bike theft 110% affects my desire to commute/run errands/get around by bike. Do I want to leave my cargo bike outside the grocery store? Should I bike downtown to an event? Can I see the bike rack from inside the bar? I didn’t use to worry about it much at all 10 years ago. To get more people riding bikes, we need to make it easier, safer, and as stress-free as possible.
Take a look at all the car chop shops destroying the woods and natural areas around town. Stolen cars are way easier to track/trace than bikes because cars have VINs and registration databases. Why don’t the cops shut those down and sweep them out?
It seems like rampant theft is becoming normalized here in PDX, and I don’t think we should settle for that at all.
And people (the author of this blog-post included) wonder why bicycle mode share has cratered! Imagine dropping north of $5k on a e-bike, hoping to replace a car, only to have it immediately stolen by a criminal. You turn to the police, but they’ve been told to “stand down” and let the camps keep chopping. You turn to the bike community for help but you’re told that the thieves aren’t thieves, and maybe you should check your privilege– after all, you had something and there’s a hypothetical homeless angel who has less than you, so your loss is justified to the increasingly out-of-touch activist echo chamber.
I’ve reached my breaking point, and I’m not alone. It’s time to snap our city out of fantasyland and deal with our problems. First step is acknowledging things for what they really are. No more tone policing, no more language policing, no more doublethink from the nonprofit grifters. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. How hard is that for the apologists to comprehend?
I agree with a lot of your comment Tomas. That’s why I think it’s such a shame you are more hellbent on criticizing me than understanding how and what I believe.
I am not and have not told anyone to ignore bike theft in camps. I have in fact done the opposite on some occasions and have actually written about my own stolen bike recovery… when I found my bike… wait for it… in a homeless camp!
It seems to me that you, and many people right now, are very frustrated with the state of things and you are dumping all those feelings onto me and BikePortland. I’m fine playing that role in your life, but I just want you to be more aware of what’s going on and I think your comments would be more effective if you stopped making this about me.
You write about this topic like you have no idea what the hell is going on is why people are dumping on you.
Your attitude is that homeless tents and trash and theft is fine in Lents or somwwheter you don’t live.
If they were on your parking strip stripping bikes you might care…
“No more tone policing, no more language policing…”
Those kinds of policing don’t work but more policing is good for the people camping?Coercion will sort them right out?
We’ve got a lot of bikes.
Remember the ten speed boom, the mountain bike boom, the suspension boom, the hybrid boom, the road bike boom, the bakfiets boom, the gravel bike boom and the Pandemic boom to rule them all? E-bikes, now.
People who never ride have a bike. People who ride, five bikes. I’ve seen a full block basement of donated bikes. We’re hip deep in bikes and some wind up on the street.
I never leave my block without a bike and I’ve had one stolen so I carry two locks and keep riding. I’m not leaving town.
I know ducks, some of my friends are ducks.
PS: fixie boom
Good for LA. Portland needs to pass the same ordinance but won’t – not with the homelessness-enabling city council we currently have (at least three of them are).
Still pretty shocking to see how the author of the leading Portland cycling blog has changed his position on bike theft. C’mon, Jonathan – we all know those are stolen bike parts.
Seems like once a week I get to ponder the question: is Jonathan Maus pro-bike or anti-bike?
Once again I’m leaning towards the latter. Can’t say I ever thought he would be advocating for the proliferation of bike theft and defending those that practice it, but here we are.
Sheesh. Maus hates bikes so much he laid on the tracks to start a blog about f’g bikes and spend several thousand hours riding bikes, wearing bike drag, seeing so many people who are so tiresome about bikes, being the go-to for all media dreck about bikes, going to tiresome meetings about… nevermind!
Except no, they’re really not — because at the scale represented in the photo, they’re blocking ADA access and other aspects of right-of-way.
If that’s true then the cops can enforce existing laws instead of adding new excessively draconian ones. So which is it?
Huh? This law doesn’t make sense – isn’t theft already illegal in LA?
“The sole purpose of the repair shall be to restore the bicycle to its operational form and enable the person to resume riding the bicycle.”
This sounds to me like the police trying to get involved with what people can/can’t do with their personal property. There are already laws against theft, as written this seems to be government overreach. How would people react if LA started cracking down on people who repair / upgrade their personal car as they see fit?
I think it has more to do with what people can and can’t do with other people’s personal property.
While I don’t have much sympathy for actual chop shops selling stolen bikes, that ordinance will definitely be abused and selectively enforced to harass homeless people.
The way it’s written you literally can’t hold onto a handful of spare parts. It’s ridiculous. You can’t “store” (i.e. have) five bike parts. That could be pedals and tubes. It could be a camp of two people with two bikes between them being worked on. It’s ridiculous.
Sadly, this is a legacy issue dating back to the late 1960s as bikes being overseen by CPSC as a ‘toy’ and not a true ‘vehicle’.
This is also a ‘planned’ / ‘accepted’ outcome of the outdoor sports industry, bike parts and bike manufacturers and its trade associations (World Bicycle Industry Association, NBDA, CONBIE, etc.)…untraceable parts will be stolen more often and have a higher street value and thus create a replacement market…Portland as a center of some of these groups / producers / designers needs to add serial numbers/ VINs onto major parts / parts groups. Let us start a movement!
This is now even more important as the value of many a bike is greater for the sum of its parts than as a whole AND with e-bikes the price of an average bike is what a hand made bike was 20 years ago when the likes of Celio, Vanilla and others started. A unified system of registration is now perhaps more easier to implement now at any point in time – given how centralized the parts and components industry / supply chain is now…if the powers that be were truly interested in it.
On an other related topic, perhaps a better local government code management tool would be when a private individual holding a garage sale / private sale becomes a private business/ reseller. Most communities have garage sale guidance in code…as a first step.