The Chainlink

CTA took my bike, and I almost didn’t find out. Help me change this for others.

Hey all,

I’m hoping someone with advocacy experience can help with this.


I recently locked my bike to a bus stop pole in front of the Fullerton el station. When I returned the following night, the bike was gone— and my U-bolt sat on the ground, sawed in two.


I reported the theft to the police and to my insurance agency. To be fair, when I returned to the bus stop that night, I saw a sign, a few inches down from the CTA route sign, that I had never seen before (and I had passed by the stop many times): it warned that bikes locked to the pole could be removed.


I e-mailed CTA customer service to ask if it was possible that one of their employees took it. And if so, if it was normal practice to take a bike without leaving a notice.


I asked, too, whether— if that was the case— the CTA recorded the serial numbers of the bikes it took.


An agent quickly wrote back to apologize for the inconvenience, adding, “On occasion, we have bicycles abandoned at racks at CTA stations; we post a note on the rack to give the owner time to claim the bike. However, if no note was ever posted as a warning, then we will forward this information to the responsible General Manager for corrective action.”


I later came across a Web page that said that if a bike were taken quickly, without any warning, it was probably a thief, and not the transit agency.


That was that, I figured; if the CTA had my bike, the serial number would get cross-referenced with the police report, and I’d be notified. 


I bought a new bike, along with the accessories I had lost. Yet I couldn’t get over how someone could saw through a U-bolt lock in front of a 24-hour station with a  security guard— and on a busy thoroughfare, no less.


I did some more searching on the Web and found this on the CTA’s site: “Cyclists are prohibited from securing bicycles to handrails, railings, doors, ramps and stairways, or in any way blocking access to and from stations. Bicycles in violation of these regulations and/or creating a public safety hazard will be tagged and removed without notice. CTA will store these bicycles for 30 days. When in doubt, cyclists should ask CTA Station personnel.”


I went back to the station and asked the agent on duty if it could have been the CTA. Oh, yeah, he said; you shouldn’t lock up your bike to a bus stop pole. (Thanks.)


The Web page also mentioned that cyclists could call a toll-free number or e-mail the Bike and Ride Program Manager directly. So, I e-mailed the program manager, asking if the transit agency catalogued the serial numbers of the bikes they took— and whether they reported them to the police, or to the National Bike Registry.


I never heard back.


I decided to go out to the garage on the West Side where removed bikes are stored. It had taken some doing to find the address online— 3920 W. Maypole Ave., just off Pulaski Rd— but I eventually reached the garage.


They had my bike, and I got it back.


Back to why I’m posting this: I want to petition the CTA, in a respectful way, to start cataloging the serial numbers of bikes it removes. It seems only fair that a police report get cross-referenced with the inventory of a government agency. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to anyone else.


Can anyone help?


Even with ideas of an advocacy group that could offer assistance?

Tags: CTA, advocacy, removed, stolen

Views: 382

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Replies to This Discussion

Glad you posted-- I try to tell people about this all the time but it almost always gets poo-poohed.
I had a contact for the bike-and-ride guy (it's a hat worn by an employee along with several others-- they don't have the budget to have one such position any more) but they installed some sort of blocking crap where I have to be on an approved list to get an e-mail through.
Your best place to start might be with the city bike program, afrter trying to get through by phone to the bike-and-ride steward at CTA HQ.
I am also thankful for the info that you found your bike on the West side-- I've been told by CTA workers that bikes removed at a particular station are stored at the last station on that line. Obviously not the case.
Extremely frustrating situation-- on behalf of the bike community, thanks for any further effort you're willing to put into this.
Also, I think John Greenfield should write an article about this for Time Out and The Reader.
Well, the City's bicycle ordinances explicitly state that it's
legal to lock bikes to sign poles, so this seems to be a conflict with CTA
policy - see below. I will consult the authorities on this.

John Greenfield

9-52-070 Parking - Permalink

No person shall park a bicycle upon a street other than upon the roadway against the curb or upon the sidewalk against a rack, parking meter or sign pole to support the bicycle or against a building or at the curb in such manner as to afford the least obstruction to pedestrian traffic.

Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634; Amend Coun. J. 7-21-04, p. 28659, § 1
Bicycles are primarily removed from bus stop signs at stations.
The info I referenced was in regard to bikes locked to bus stop signs at stations.

M.A.R.K. said:
Howard.. I have heard the same thing about stuff being hauled to the end of the line.. This has to do with a bus stop, not a train station. Maybe there are two sets of guidelines here between the two?


M.A.R.K. said:


John Greenfield said:
Well, the City's bicycle ordinances explicitly state that it's
legal to lock bikes to sign poles, so this seems to be a conflict with CTA
policy - see below. I will consult the authorities on this.

John Greenfield

9-52-070 Parking - Permalink

No person shall park a bicycle upon a street other than upon the roadway against the curb or upon the sidewalk against a rack, parking meter or sign pole to support the bicycle or against a building or at the curb in such manner as to afford the least obstruction to pedestrian traffic.

Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634; Amend Coun. J. 7-21-04, p. 28659, § 1

I think the conflict here possibly is the difference between city property, and private property.. The city says you can do certain things on their property, while the CTA says you cannot on theirs. Bus stops and the like are their property, and they do not want people locking and abandoning bikes to their property.
The sign post may indeed be the property of the CTA, but that sign post is located on municipal property.
I don't want to be the bad guy here, but once in a while I see a bike parked in the bus stop at Chicago and Milwaukee right where they let people out of the Eastbound bus. The parked bike blocks exiting passengers when the bus can not pull up all the way. I would guess this policy is an attempt to solve this problem. When locking up just keep in mind the other users in our busy urban environment.
I think the problem with the CTA policy isn't that bikes aren't allowed to park to bus stop signs, but that when bikes are removed they are not taken to 1 known facilty and there is not a clear record of the bike, seriel number, date, time, and location of removal and where the bike is located.



Pablo said:
I don't want to be the bad guy here, but once in a while I see a bike parked in the bus stop at Chicago and Milwaukee right where they let people out of the Eastbound bus. The parked bike blocks exiting passengers when the bus can not pull up all the way. I would guess this policy is an attempt to solve this problem. When locking up just keep in mind the other users in our busy urban environment.
Ok....

My bike is located in my apartment. My apartment is owned by my landlord. Therefore, my landlord owns my bike.

Following my (and your) faulty logic here?

Jan said:


M.A.R.K. said:


John Greenfield said:
Well, the City's bicycle ordinances explicitly state that it's
legal to lock bikes to sign poles, so this seems to be a conflict with CTA
policy - see below. I will consult the authorities on this.

John Greenfield

9-52-070 Parking - Permalink

No person shall park a bicycle upon a street other than upon the roadway against the curb or upon the sidewalk against a rack, parking meter or sign pole to support the bicycle or against a building or at the curb in such manner as to afford the least obstruction to pedestrian traffic.

Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634; Amend Coun. J. 7-21-04, p. 28659, § 1

I think the conflict here possibly is the difference between city property, and private property.. The city says you can do certain things on their property, while the CTA says you cannot on theirs. Bus stops and the like are their property, and they do not want people locking and abandoning bikes to their property.
The sign post may indeed be the property of the CTA, but that sign post is located on municipal property.
I think I agree with Liz and Pablo.



Liz said:
I think the problem with the CTA policy isn't that bikes aren't allowed to park to bus stop signs, but that when bikes are removed they are not taken to 1 known facilty and there is not a clear record of the bike, seriel number, date, time, and location of removal and where the bike is located.



Pablo said:
I don't want to be the bad guy here, but once in a while I see a bike parked in the bus stop at Chicago and Milwaukee right where they let people out of the Eastbound bus. The parked bike blocks exiting passengers when the bus can not pull up all the way. I would guess this policy is an attempt to solve this problem. When locking up just keep in mind the other users in our busy urban environment.
I believe the following is more relevant:

9-52-070 Parking

No person shall park a bicycle upon a street other than upon the roadway against the curb or upon the sidewalk against a rack, parking meter or sign pole to support the bicycle or against a building or at the curb in such manner as to afford the least obstruction to pedestrian traffic
.




John Greenfield said:
Well, the City's bicycle ordinances explicitly state that it's
legal to lock bikes to sign poles, so this seems to be a conflict with CTA
policy - see below. I will consult the authorities on this.

John Greenfield

9-52-070 Parking - Permalink

No person shall park a bicycle upon a street other than upon the roadway against the curb or upon the sidewalk against a rack, parking meter or sign pole to support the bicycle or against a building or at the curb in such manner as to afford the least obstruction to pedestrian traffic.

Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634; Amend Coun. J. 7-21-04, p. 28659, § 1
A little refocusing if I may-- the OP took the time to compose a well-stated and complete description of the problem, and brought a specific proposal to the table:

Back to why I’m posting this: I want to petition the CTA, in a respectful way, to start cataloging the serial numbers of bikes it removes. It seems only fair that a police report get cross-referenced with the inventory of a government agency. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to anyone else.
Can anyone help?
Even with ideas of an advocacy group that could offer assistance?


Can anyone help?
I have no real facts to base this on, so maybe I should just keep it to myself (but then what would the Internet even be for, right?). But I imagine you'd get farther either asking the CTA to hand the bikes over to the cops, who could then check it against their own records, or asking the CTA to put a sticker on the bus sign poles telling people not to lock there.
The stickers are a good idea. Preventing the OP’s situation entirely with a simple, please don’t park here note would be a good thing. That said, it sounds like the CTA has a lot of room for improvement in how it handles seized property.


heather s said:
I have no real facts to base this on, so maybe I should just keep it to myself (but then what would the Internet even be for, right?). But I imagine you'd get farther either asking the CTA to hand the bikes over to the cops, who could then check it against their own records, or asking the CTA to put a sticker on the bus sign poles telling people not to lock there.

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