If you'd like to steal a bike—if you are not bothered by the moral ramifications of doing so—and you live somewhere crowded and urban like New York City, go ahead and do it. Statistically, you are almost certain to get away with it. Why? Nobody cares about other people's bikes, and nobody cares about bike thieves.
Here, Filmmaker Casey Neistat embarks on an experiment, stealing his own bike, loudly and obviously, in the light of day:
This video is old, but he just redid the experiment for the New York Times, with similar results.
I do not know what I would do if I saw
someone hacking off a bike lock by a subway stop. Especially if he was
large and muscular-looking. If he were smaller than I, perhaps I'd say
"Hey man, what are you doing?" Perhaps I wouldn't. Of course if they said "I lost my key." How would I respond then? Do you press the issue further or let them be.
Of course, the goal should be a society without stolen
bikes. And indeed, such a society exists! The great city of Copenhagen
is known for its numerous number of bikes leaning on buildings, unlocked. You may see them just tossed over on the grass. Nobody really wants the bikes, it turns out, because
everyone that wants one already has one. Or has access to one, through
the city's bike-share system. No bike thief could make any serious money
selling bikes. Besides, income equality was much greater in Denmark,
and the have-nots were not nearly as destitute or desperate as those in a
city like New York. The incentive for organized bike-stealing is simply not there.
Sure, bikes get stolen, sometimes, but that is mostly the work of drunk kids or jerks. This
may be an oversimplification. But the general principle rings true: in a
more equal society, and in one that takes pains to provide the services
that a populace demands, thieving drops!
You can't fundamentally
alter the crowd psychology of human beings, but we can try to make sure
that everyone who wants a bike has access to one. We must Denmarkify our societies.