The Observer Oct. 13 

Here’s a guy who works at Heifer International, doing the Lord’s work, and even though Little Rock’s temps averaged about 150 degrees F. this summer, he chose to pedal a bike to the office rather than suck up fossil fuel.

“Physicists,” Jeff Dailey wrote The Observer last week, “say that in terms of efficiency, a man on a bike beats all other living creatures when it comes to getting from place to place. Today, I learned this theory applies even to middle-aged, unkempt men with sticky fingers.

Dailey’s experience was that “the bike has been nothing but worthwhile, practical, convenient and yes, efficient, with regard to my daily trek to the office. Fellow employees smile with admiration when I roll my bike through the halls of our 10th-floor space. Strangers politely make room on the elevator for the bicycle and me; they quip about gas prices, exercise and the freedom of shedding a car for a mountain bike. Rolling my bike through the lobby of my office building, in a tie, business slacks and a backpack, brings a generous supply of smiles my way. The bottom line? Riding a bike is a good philosophy. Even more, it’s faster than driving. It takes double the time to park and walk than it does to ride to my office building and zip up the elevator.”

But there are onlookers who don’t just admire.

“On the ride home from work,” Dailey continued, “I stopped at the dry cleaners on Main. My clothes weren’t ready when I arrived just after 5 p.m., so I had to wait. Out of the corner of my eye, I monitored my bike, knowing that purveyors of unscrupulous behavior could be waiting in the wings. I looked away from the bike briefly.” Not a minute later, he turned around, and saw the bike had vanished.

“I darted to the sidewalk, leaving my backpack and other personal items on the counter of the dry cleaners. Quickly, I scanned to the left. Nothing. I looked to the right. Bingo. A guy was pedaling away awkwardly on my bike toward the Statehouse Convention Center.” Dailey gave chase.

“Sprinting down the sidewalk, I gained ground quickly at first. At the stop sign by San Francisco Bread Co., the unkempt, headphones-wearing man stopped just as any other law-abiding citizen would do. Focused and pushing my Cole Haans to the limits, I closed the gap at a fast rate and even began to consider how to go about removing the not-so-gentleman thief from my bike. Then it happened. Not five feet from having him in my grasp, my feet slipped from underneath me. I hit the ground, did a roll in the street, and got up and started running again.”

Dailey watched the man speed away toward the Stephens building. “My bike had beaten me, and my hope, in turn, was dashed. Or so I thought.

“A kind passerby who had seen me chasing my bike stopped and asked if he could assist. ‘I’m not going to do any vigilante, high-speed chase,’ he said, ‘but I’ll try to help.’ We zoomed away. Two blocks later, we saw a police officer at a stoplight near the courthouse. I told the man to stop the car and thanked him as I jumped out of his moving vehicle and ran toward the police car. I knocked on the window. “A guy just stole my bike,” I said, out of breath. ‘Hop in,’ said the cop.

“For 10 minutes, we drove the streets of downtown, looking down alleys and among cars in packed parking lots in an area that stretched to Seventh Street. Unfortunately, the stars didn’t line up for me, and the bike was gone.

“Amidst the chaos of the situation, I imagined — and hoped for — that a ‘COPS’ chase would ensue, the scofflaw would get handcuffed (and take my place in the police car) and I would pedal home happily on the bike.”

Instead, all he got was a ride back to the cleaners.

“So now, unless I spot my bike on the streets of Little Rock before it gets pawned (or traded for a 30-pack of Miller High Life), I’m back to good old Am-ur-ican gas-guzzlin’ consumption. Unless, of course, one of those old City Bikes serendipitously turns up on my doorstep before work tomorrow morning. Now wouldn’t that be efficient?”

Ah, the old City Bikes. We rode one once. The transient we borrowed it from made a vinegary remark about bringing it back. He figured — as did his brethren — it was his to keep.

Within weeks, all the City Bikes were gone. This is not enlightened Portland, Ore., or Seattle, Wash. This, apparently, is bike-nabbing country.


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