I first saw this bicycle about six months ago. It caught my attention because it was early in the morning and it looked a little out of place. Over the months I saw the bicycle slowly lose its parts. It is next to my office, so each day I witnessed the bike slowly lose pieces.
It started with the wheels, then the seat and over months it lost several other pieces. Eventually all that was left of the original shiny bike are the remnants you see in the picture.
As the bike lost each piece, I started to wonder about its rider. I wondered what happened to the rider that took the time to secure the bike. I wondered, was the plan to abandon the bike the rider did not want anymore? No, it couldn’t be that because why would the rider go to the trouble of securing the bike if they just wanted to abandon it.
My office is in downtown Orlando. It is the partying part of Orlando as evidenced by the nightlife that starts around six in the afternoon and appears to go on all night. Downtown Orlando is part of the “work, eat and live” city center renewal strategy where people live and work in the same place in the hopes of reducing the impact cars have on the environment.
The Orlando downtown is mixed use urban renewal where people live in apartments high above the office places at street level where many residents labor throughout the day. Mixed into this urban renewal experiment is a nightlife extravaganza of bars and places to eat.
Because of this I assume the bike rider came to meet a few friends for a night out on the town and never made it back to their bike.
Why, is the question I keep asking myself.
Orlando is a high crime area with murders, thefts and assaults as part of the city’s daily life. Over the months that the bike was dismantled – piece-by-piece – there were numerous reports of murders and arrests.
Was the rider the victim of a homicide? Was the rider arrested for something that has kept them from getting their bike back? Did the rider suffer a sudden serious illness where they forgot about the bike or didn’t live long enough to recover it? Or, is it something as simple as a forgotten lock code?
The pieces of the bike offer little clues as to what happened to its rider. Its pieces scattered across town have no way to convey what led its rider to leave their bike to be slowly dismantled piece by piece over the months.
I will likely never know why the bike remains where it has stood to vandals, thieves dismantling it to pieces and curious eyes, like mine, asking themselves why are you here? Silently, as if imploring, the bike keeps silently asking me – why.