Open Letter to Whoever Stole my Bike

My Bike in 2010

My Bike in 2011. I switched out the beat up old blue seat with a red seat that I got as a birthday gift.

My Bike in 2011.

The above are pictures of what had been my main form of transportation for a year up until 2 days ago: my bicycle.

A bicycle that got stolen from a community center in Long Beach.

My bicycle is/was more than just recreational fun; this was my ride from my home in the San Fernando Valley to school in Long Beach. About 50 miles apart.

And. With no car.

To whoever you are, young, old, whatever race or gender you are, if you just wanted something to take a ride on it, I would've let you. If you just wanted a bike of your own, I could've helped you get one of your own (or worked with you to get one of your own). If you just wanted a bike to make some quick money, why couldn't we work something out?

Did it have to come to you stealing what has been my main form of transportation?

You just stole something from someone who wants to believe in you and the goodness of people.

The worst part about all this is that this happened in a place where kids are already stereotyped by the police, and it happened while a bunch of Jehovah's Witness missionary types were doing some kind of workshop in the room next to where my bike was.

When people asked them if they saw if anyone stole my bike, seeing their bicycle helmet, one of them said, "that's why you lock it up" as if the community is something to naturally be distrustful of.

The bike has all the stickers of my interactions with people. The Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition, Pimpin' Peace, Beatrock Music, Justice for Oscar Grant --- it was like a record of where I have been and where I'd like to go.

How I Got this Bike

I got this bike off of Craigslist for $150 bucks in Monterey Park in 2009 with the help of a cycling advocate.

When I first got it, the seat would move up and down, there were gears, and the ride was anything but smooth.

But with a little bit of work and trial and error, I eventually found a way to make the bicycle work for me. I found out how to set my wheel just right so the chain wouldn't keep falling off the gear, how to currently use bicycle pumps, and how to change flat tires.

So much so that in addition to a Student Metro pass (that took 2 months to get) that allowed me to ride the Orange, Red, and Blue Lines, the bicycle became my main mode of transport from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach.

My Route to School

I would usually begin my commute in the morning in the heart of the San Fernando Valley.

I would bike through the speed/war zone called Woodman Ave. in Van Nuys to North Hollywood. Apparently a bike-a-ble street.

"Apparently" being an operative word. Every morning, afternoon, or even early evening I could feel cars breathing on me. The only time that it was nice to bike were those very late Tuesday and Thursday nights at 11:45 PM when it would just be me and wide open streets.

From North Hollywood, I would go through Griffith Park and head into the LA River Bike path.

During the sunny days, the LA river bike path is where I'd catch all the flies in my mouth and face. I always wondered why this one person always wore fake eye-glasses whenever she rode her bike --- that very situation is why. On the day of my orientation at Long Beach, I even had one screw break off at Griffith Park making it so that I could no longer pedal; I had to use my bike as a skateboard to the nearest bike shop --- 4 miles away in North Hollywood. I got a replacement screw for 5 dollars, and ended up taking the Red and Blue Line.

After getting through the LA River in Griffith Park, I'd make the decision to either go to East Los Angeles or just go through Silver Lake into Echo Park.

Sometimes I'd go the East LA route, which took me through its surprising hills, narrow right lanes, and Salesian High school.

However, most of the time I'd take Silver Lake into Echo Park because that provided the option of spending $1.50 to take the Blue Line to Long Beach.

If I opted not to, I would make my way down to South LA. I would turn left on Martin Luther King St. and find my way to 41st Street and Alameda, the site of the much-contested South Central Farm. Last time I rode down, there was literally a circus on site.

I'd find myself then side-by-side with 18-wheel trucks in the "city" of Vernon. It's not so much a city with people walking and living there, but a massive storage space for various industries. I wouldn't recommend it, but somehow this is where the LA River Bike Path continues into Long Beach where I usually cruise 14 miles before hitting Pacific Coast Highway.

I ride 4 or 5 miles east on another supposed bike-friendly street, Pacific Coast Highway, roundabouts and fast-cars, to Cal State Long Beach.

I'm not saying I biked all these miles to brag, I'm just saying that I was really, really, really, did I mention... REALLY...DEPENDENT on this form of transportation.

It wasn't really fun, luxurious, or recreational. It was just fun, functional, and necessary.

Just a plea from a student who just wants to make things better, doesn't care who you are, and just wants his bike back in one piece.