Claiming Abandoned Bikes

Rusty bikeIt is common to see bikes that have been abandoned and are rusting away when they could be being used, either to ride or for recycling.

Leaving a bike abandoned is treated by some local authorites as equivalent to fly-tipping! An abandoned bike is a nuisance so you can be doing a favour by claiming it, as well as getting a free bike into the bargain!

However, by removing an apparently abandoned bike there is always the danger of stealing someone’s property. If you are caught removing it or cycling it at a later date you could be prosecuted for theft. Legality will vary in different areas so it always best to check with your local council or police.

What you don’t want to do:

  • Get out lock cutters or a saw and start hacking at the lock.
  • Take away parts of the bike and leave an empty frame.

What you should do depends on where the bike is:

If it’s on a stairwell where you live:

  • Ask the neighbours to find out if it belongs to one of them.
  •  Contact the local council – inform them that a bike has been abandoned where you live and that you would like to claim the bike. Local councils may vary in who deals with bikes but try to contact environmental wardens or the department responsible for  recycling.

If the  bike is on private property, e.g. a supermarket or a cycle rack in a university or train station:

  • Contact the organisation, informing them of what the bike looks like and that you would like to claim it.

If it’s abandoned on public property, e.g. a park or on railings by a pavement:

  • Contact your local council’s environmental/recycling department.

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For all cases, state where the bike is located, how long it has been abandoned, get a description of the bike – photos may also be useful, and give your name and contact details. Make it clear that you want the bike and will take it away. Claiming a bike in this way is likely to take time and there is no guarantee you will actually get the bike.