Twisted, abandoned bike carcasses on the streets of New York

Ryan sez, "We recently went out on the streets of Manhattan to photograph bikes around the city that have been abandoned, destroyed or otherwise left for dead, and how they contrast with the many vibrant scenes that surround them. The bikes tend to take on a surreal shape after being twisted and rusted for so long, rusty bike chains begin to look like miniature Richard Serra constructions and bent wheels melt like Dali's clocks. We tried to bring the beauty out of these things that many people would consider eyesores."

I got creamed by a drunk driver on my bike twenty-plus years ago. When I finally got off crutches and rescued what was left of the frame that I'd U-locked to a post before the ambulance came, I brought the bike to Duke's cycle for an insurance replacement. They confirmed it was a write off and told me the dead frame would go to the Bovine Sex Club, a venue across the street whose sign was made of hundreds of twisted abandonware bikes welded together.

The Abandoned Bikes of New York City (Thanks, Ryan!)


  1. This is a nice-looking collection of photographs. The one thing I always find funny with this type of photo essay is the fact that the photographers assume that phenomena such as this (abandoned bikes, etc) are only localized to their particular local, in this case NYC

    Broken, abandoned and rusty locked bicycles are common in all American cities. In my town, bikes such as this can be seen about every two blocks. In other words, a true comprehensive photo essay such as this should acknowledge the phenomenon that’s also occurring in other places. New York doesn’t have a “lock” on crummy bikes left on sidewalks

    Like I said, nice-looking collection!

    1. the photographers assume that phenomena such as this (abandoned bikes, etc) are only localized to their particular local, in this case NYC

      Photographing abandoned bikes does seem to be particularly popular in New York, though- another example is a book called “Bicycles Locked to Poles” that was published a few years ago.

  2. I’m astonished by this.  Here in L.A., scavengers for metal would have snatched them up in a flash. All you have to do is leave it on the curb and it is gone in a day or two, sometimes, just under an hour. I guess in a throwaway society, what one person sees as trash, another sees as resource.

    1. Notice that every abandoned bike in New York City is attached to the rack by a chain sturdy enough to tow a semi-truck. Well, not exactly, but the lock companies sell special “NYC-grade” locks.

  3. Cory, I’m loving that I know exactly the two references you’ve made (I’m a Toronto bike mechanic who volunteers at a DIY shop), and I LOVE the Bovine Sex Club sign.  :)

    1. Which DYI shop, Pirates or Juice?

      I use to pay people to fix my bike, going to Bike Pirates has helped a lot and now I fix my own bike and my friends bikes. Thanks for volunteering.

  4. It’s not OK to part that Trek;  if I come back and somebody has stolen my rack and fenders I’ll be pissed.

  5. Wonder how many abandoned bikes are people who got drunk and plain forgot where their bike was locked up. 

    1.  I’ve had a bike removed and discarded by a landlord who assumed that it was discarded because of its poor condition.

  6. New York City seems to be one of the few places where people are proud to live among their own filth and refuse.  Sad commentary on humans.

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