City of Aspen: Retrieve your bikes or we will
November 3, 2015
If you've left your town bike downtown or think you can store it for the winter at one of the racks in the commercial core, the city has a message for you: Think again.
Signs went up last week at all downtown bike racks warning owners to retrieve their bikes before tomorrow, when the racks will be removed for the winter. City workers will cut off the locks of any remaining bikes and take them to the Aspen Police Department, said Dan Nelson, downtown coordinator for the city's parks department.
The racks make snow removal too difficult, he said.
The police department will store the bikes for 60 days, at which time they become "abandoned property" and will be auctioned off in the spring, said Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn. However, if someone can prove they own a confiscated bike that's been held longer than 60 days, the city will return it, he said.
Bikes — usually the utilitarian townie-types though nicer rides are not uncommon — are frequently abandoned around Aspen in the summer, Linn said.
"We get calls all the time about bikes in people's front yards and could we come get it," he said.
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Often it's a bike that's merely been "borrowed" and abandoned by someone, perhaps around bar time, looking for a quicker way home than their own two feet, he said.
"People leave their bikes everywhere," Nelson said. "They'll just leave them for the winter in a tree well. How am I supposed to do snow removal?"
He said he gets calls about bikes chained to trees or in front of businesses or the loading area at Rubey Park. Nelson said he and his crew end up confiscating about 100 bikes per summer.
Currently, the city has 40 confiscated bikes from this summer stored in front of the Rio Grande Building across from the Pitkin County Jail and behind the Pitkin County Courthouse, Linn said.
Once the bikes are confiscated, they are logged by serial number, color and other details, Nelson said. After 60 days, Nelson and his crew take them to the city's impound yard at the dump, where they are stored outside for the winter, he said.
Then, in May, the city holds a live auction, where the bidding can start as low as $10, Nelson said.
The last auction, held May 15, raised $4,042, which went into the general fund, Linn said.
Nelson, who's been on the job for 11 years, said he learned a valuable lesson one year when he removed the racks before Halloween.
"I learned a couple years ago that locals like to park their bikes on Halloween," he said. "I heard about it."