This Summer has been an absolute doozy. First? A few weeks back I was blessed to have gotten pretty tore up from a bad door-ing on Hollywood Blvd by a bro in a silver Mercedes (plates 5SUG851), who was more concerned about running in a black Macbook to a store than the fact that he hit a biker. Moreover, what little pleasure happened last night? Said bike–after $200 worth of repairs–was stolen while I was in a class on Melrose at Gardner. What a delightful series of bike events that have been coming our way this Summer! This being said, we’ve learned a great deal about dealing with bike trouble and we wanted to share important things you need to know about handling the situation, should you face these circumstances.
• Stop What You Are Doing And Write Down Your Bike’s Serial Number.
This is incredibly important. Your bike’s serial number is essentially its social security number. Without knowledge of what it is, you won’t have any ability to get it back if stolen because, basically, your bike is no way able to be validated. When I approached my bike last night at 10:30PM to only find a tire, I was going to call the cops but didn’t because–in my research and speaking with an investigator–nothing can be done if you don’t have your bike’s serial number and if you haven’t registered your bike. This is so duh but, somehow, I never thought of doing this and have a feeling many are in the same boat. Thus, take our advice: locate your serial number and register your bike. This will help you in the future.
• Make Your Bike Distinctive.
As noted in this very, very informative SF Weekly article, put some marking on your bike so people know its yours. Carve your initials in somewhere, paint on your name, add a little vanity plate: do something to give your bike a birthmark! This will help you and the police in identifying your bike. Moreover, if you’re bike is a *little* ostentatious, this makes tracking it down all the easier as “Some black bike.” is a shitty description.
• Take A Photo Of Your Bike.
This sounds dumb: take photos of it. This will help show, “Hey: this is what my bike looks like AND I have all these photos of it.” I just spoke to an officer on the phone about all of this dramatics and, because of nearly no photos and no knowledge of a serial number, you are lumped into a Boy Who Cried Wolf category–AKA your bike is gone forever. Sorry!
• Know How To Properly Lock Your Bike.
Again: sounds dumb. But, your bike should *always* be locked on the front tire and through the frame. This is a very informative article on locking a bike. The take away? Front wheel and the frame are the areas that need protecting. Some experts can get throughs techniques, too. Again, speaking from experience: the assholes who stole our bike were so cocky they replaced the nuts on the front of the wheel to rub in the fact that they stole it. If need be, use two industrial locks. We recommend Kryptonites.
• Know Who To Call.
If your bike is stolen, call your local, neighborhood LAPD–not 911. You can call 911; however, you’re just going to be told, “You need to call this local station–here’s the number.” The officer I spoke to on the phone assured this, too. If you are hit by a car, call 911 immediately. The person who hit you is obligated to call 911; however, most of the time they are assholes and/or they just leave. If the cops are on their way even for a little cut and bruise, the situation can at least be seen an assessed by the police and medics firsthand.
• Get Renter’s Insurance.
This is for if your bike is stolen: if you file a police report, your renter’s insurance should cover this incident since it is your property. This may be a bit forced for some but, had I had a serial number, I’m sure I could have used the police report to at least get some monetary compensation.
• Ride Aggressively–But Smartly.
This is a good rule: be assertive in your biking–but don’t be stupid. Think about what part of town you are in and what kind of road you are on. Always abide by traffic rules and try not to ride on the sidewalk. Know where you are going and how to get there and do your best to be consistent: if you have to ride in the middle of the road, do it; if you have to ride on the side, do it; if you have to ride in between lanes, do it. You have the power and right of way but, unfortunately, you don’t have the strength that cars do. Being consistent in your biking will help put everyone at ease versus being all over the road and unpredictable.
• If Hit, Stay Calm And Know Your Rights.
If you’re hit, try to stay calm. If you are conscious and in working order, pull yourself together and pull yourself off of the road and out of oncoming traffic and away from other threats. When I was hit, I was launched into the middle of traffic. When I “came to” (like two seconds after a tiny blackout), I turned around to notice oncoming traffic and grabbed my bike and ran off of the road. Once collected, know you are in the right (even if it was partially your fault) because you were hit. I suggest calling the police/911 immediately and without question. Unless you are so minutely nicked, you should call 911. You have to for your own well being and for the well being of your future. This is mostly preventative for what could come to pass in the future as a result of a little accident. This is also a very important resource on what to do if hit.
• If Doored, Know This…
Because the car is not moving, there is nothing the cops can do. As we learned, a parked car hitting you or you hitting a parked car has to be handled civilly as the car was not in motion: this doesn’t become a traffic accident but an issue of one or two people who have a personal problem. In my case, I was severely doored as the driver flippantly flung his driver’s door open literally as I was passing. Thus, my motion and the motion of the door threw me off of my bike. Because the car itself was not in motion, he wasn’t a part of traffic. Thus, I could press charges personally through the LAPD but opted not to because 1.) I wasn’t that hurt; 2.) My bike–my evidence–was later stolen; and 3.) It is a mess to have to deal with a little trouble for little results.
• Get The Driver’s Information.
Again: obvious–but necessary! I wasn’t 100% in the right state of mind when hit and most people are not, either. I was offered his information a thousand time but couldn’t muster a yes or no from being so out of sorts that the man just left. Yes, wrong on his behalf but also wrong of me. You should obviously get the car information (thankfully, bystanders did that for me); however, the driver may not be the owner of the car. All of this wrongdoing doesn’t default on the owner of the car–but on the driver. We learned this the hard way the person who hit me was not the car owner thus figuring out who he was was not that cut-and-dry. Things got a bit complicated and–because we didn’t get the driver-at-the-moment’s information–it all got muddy.
• File A Police Report–And Keep Up With The Police.
Whether you did it one site with the police in person or if you retroactively went to a station to file a report, you must file something. Wrongdoings going unpunished are just as bad as the wrongdoings themselves. And, naturally, the LAPD is fairly busy: it is up to you to make sure that your case is being handled. If you haven’t heard back in a week, call the station you reported to to give a nudge. Our investigator (Shout out to Investigator Willmon!) was super on his shit and we didn’t have to prod about anything, even with such a menial case. He got things done!
• Expect A Long Process.
It’ll take a while. Between figuring out each side’s story and who/where each person is, it’ll take time. We’re still entrenched in this mess and it has been over a month. Not that bad, no, but also not immediate. Something to keep in mind…
• Be Safe.
Above everything else? Be safe. It needn’t be said but wear a helmet, don’t get lost in music, and give your biking your undivided attention.
You can check more bike tips here, per a story we did a few months back. We hope you all don’t have the bike trouble we’ve had this Summer; however, if you do, we hope to have been a resource in your fixing the situation. Safe travels, everyone!