This morning I bicycled from my place in Albany to the Berkeley City Club on Durant Avenue, near the UC Berkeley campus, to attend a breakfast for the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce. I wanted to introduce the new business membership ($100 per annum) for the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, which just moved to the Berkeley Bike Station downtown. I locked up my bicycle across the street from the City Club -- designed by Julia Morgan -- and noticed the building was draped in black and a construction crew was busy working on the roof.
At the meeting, I introduced myself and the coalition and told potential members they'd get exposure to our 3,000 members by joining on at the business rate. I also told them I had bicycled to the breakfast and they gave me a cheer.
When I walked out of the breakfast, after about an hour, I looked across the street. No bike. Nada. I must have looked shocked because Damon Guthrie, a commercial artist and mapmaker who came out with me, immediately asked my if my bicycle was missing.
When I went to the pole where I had locked it, my heavy steel lock had been neatly sliced open. Damon suggested we call the Berkeley Police, which we did and made a report. When I got home (I bought another bicycle right away at Mike's Bikes since it was nearby and I cannot live without a commuter bike), someone from the breakfast called about joining the EBBC. I told him the story about my stolen bike and he suggested I call the City Club to see if they might have an outdoor camera that could have filmed the theft.
No camera at the venerable City Club, but the head of security told me that two construction workers had witnessed the theft of my bicycle that morning. They were working on the roof, saw a young fellow with a sack walk up to my bike, pull something out of the sack, cut my lock, and ride off. They were too high up to do anything, and they didn't call the police either.
If it's so easy to cut through a steel bicycle lock to steal a bicycle, I think from now on I'll park my bicycle at the new Berkeley Bike Station and walk to my destination downtown or on campus. Someone needs to invent a far more sophisticated theft device for the bicycle, maybe using mobile communications. Or maybe it (a chip embedded with an owner's recognition software program? ) should come built into the frame of each new bicycle. Whatever is clever. Bicycle thieves would all but disappear if their brawny tools no longer sufficed.