Finland is a VERY law abiding country, people simply love to stick to the rules here. For someone like me who believes in just being a good person rather than sticking to ’the book’ word for word it can seem a bit odd but it does mean that there isn’t a huge amount of crime here.
It’s very rare to see any police even here in Helsinki, I’ve not seen any at all out on the beat and only a few times have I seen them in cars. Finnish people just don’t act like dicks, they may ignore each other and not think twice about bashing into you in the street but they aren’t being malicious when they do it.
THERE’S A VERY RELAXED ATTITUDE TAKEN TOWARDS LOCKING UP BIKES
Sights like this are very common in Helsinki, it is not considered cavalier to prop a bike up outside a shop and go inside. It can be seen all over the city which is really great, it’s a beautiful thing.
There is a small lock between the seat stays but if you look carefully you’ll see a cable lock sat in the basket. The back wheel may be immobilised but it’s not securely fastened to anything, if somebody wanted to they could lift the back wheel and disappear into the sunset with this bike.
But they don’t.
This bike and thousands others like it safely wait outside shops like obedient dogs for their owners to come back. And it’s not just in the city centre either, bikes are left like this outside people’s homes, not locked to anything and not being thrown into the back of a van and sold on the internet.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t provisions for locking your bike to something if you want to because there are bike racks everywhere, of all different shapes and sizes, and they are always full because a lot of people cycle here.
SOME SCUMBAG STOLE MY GIRLFRIEND’S BIKE
There are jerks everywhere, even here in the promised land.
Her bike was securely locked to a rack at a Metro station last week and a slimy lowlife crawled out from under the rock where he was hiding and took off with it.
She had only ridden it three times, we hadn’t even cleaned the dirt off the secondhand frame yet and it was gone, probably to be sold for next to nothing to another idiot with absolutely no respect for other people’s property.
The thing that bike thieves don’t know (or care about) is that when they take a bike they aren’t just taking a bike, they are taking away somebodies freedom, they are taking away the owners means of getting from one place to another and they are essentially changing that persons concept of space and time. When a bike is stolen the world suddenly becomes a much bigger place for the person left staring at the empty spot where their pride and joy once was.
My girlfriend was devastated and I was devastated but the bike was gone and we all know that the chances of recovering a stolen bike are slim to say the least.
BUT EVEN A SLIM CHANCE IS A CHANCE
We informed the police, I put the word out on Facebook even though I have very few Finnish friends on there so far and I posted about it on the Yksivaihde forum. All we could really do now was wait but I rode around the neighbourhood daily just in case and watched the Finnish equivalents of Gumtree and eBay every day.
Today I got the e-mail, out of the blue an eagle-eyed member of Yksivaihde had spotted her bike left outside a building, unlocked. He swiped it, took it to a bike rack, locked it up and sent me a message. Bike thieves are stupid stupid people, this is the second time that I have been able to get a stolen bike back because the person who took it was an idiot.
The great thing about fixed gear and singlespeed forums/scenes is that everyone really does look out for each other. I’ve only been here just over a month and haven’t met that many people yet but still the community was able to get this bike in less than a week. It doesn’t matter that until today I’d never met Henri (the guy who found it) because everyone in this very tiny niche corner of cycling is a friend or a friend of a friend and we stick together for the greater good of everyone that has the curse of having just one gear.
Thanks to Henri and Mikko for their help today, thanks to the Yksivaihde forum in general and thanks to the worldwide fixed gear and singlespeed community which I am very proud to be a part of.