The Abandoned Bikes of New York City

A female bike rider rides past an abandoned bike on 2nd avenue in Manhattan

Since we first pointed out the growing number of unique abandoned bikes around the city, we’ve become particularly observant when we take our routine walks or bike rides around the city. It’s easy to see these bikes as eyesores (or as hogs of valuable bike rack real estate), but lately we’ve been noticing something charming, if not artistic, about these misfits.

Like the photo from the original post, we thought that many of these bikes we’ve seen recently resembled works of modern art. The lines of the rusted bike chains brought to mind Richard Serra, while some of the more twisted frames reminded us of John Chamberlain’s work.

Since these abandonments aren’t likely to go anywhere anytime soon, we figure we might as well appreciate them.

- Laura and Ryan

A bent wheel amongst straight wheels in the East Village

Abandoned bikes near Cooper Union in NYC

A rusted out green bike in Manhattan's East Village

A bicycle abandoned in front of Madison Square Garden in New York City

A bike appears to have broken off as part of a building's scaffolding in Gramercy Park

Bikes left near Cooper Union

Cooper Union and its abandoned bikes

An abandoned bike left to float along 8th avenue in NYC

Bent and rusted bikes in St. Marks place in Manhattan

27 Comments

  1. hammondwf
    Aug 07, 2012 @ 11:56:32

    I noticed this when I was in NYC too. Some bikes look really cool too! I’ve started noticing it around Toronto too!

    Reply

  2. erinjsimpson
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 22:19:16

    Great photos! I’ve also come across bikes covered in colored yarn in the city. So strange, these abandoned bikes!

    Reply

    • Smith & Ratliff
      Aug 09, 2012 @ 23:27:13

      We love the yarn-bombed bikes! They’re actually the work of a semi-anonymous artist who goes by Olek. Very strange indeed. -LR

      Reply

      • erinjsimpson
        Aug 10, 2012 @ 13:28:10

        Oh wow, how cool! Thanks for sharing!

      • Smith & Ratliff
        Aug 11, 2012 @ 22:38:59

        Erin, while biking down 5th Avenue this evening I saw a bike locked to a pole, covered in greenery. It was one of the most interesting I’ve seen yet! -RS

      • erinjsimpson
        Aug 12, 2012 @ 20:09:03

        Really?? I’ll have to keep a look out for that!

  3. Kobey
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 22:47:13

    I like this. I would love to know the history of some of these machines.
    It would be cool if some of these could be salvaged and rebuilt and donated to those in need.

    Reply

  4. Weekly Rewind « Fossil Blog
    Aug 10, 2012 @ 08:55:37

    [...] 8. A series of abandoned bikes on NYC streets on Smith & Ratliff. [...]

    Reply

  5. Mike V.
    Aug 12, 2012 @ 21:34:18

    Cool stuff.

    I took this shot on Eldridge Street in April – http://mikevella.com/NYC2012/pages/img_0483.htm

    Reply

  6. Abandoned Bikes of New York City • Selectism
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 06:02:06

    [...] and Laura of Smith&Ratliff bring us this amazing photo set recording the ever increasing number of abandoned bikes, alone and [...]

    Reply

  7. David C.
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 08:24:56

    We love bike snuff! Here’s another set taken in Montreal and Amsterdam

    Reply

  8. David C.
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 08:25:44

    Reply

    • Smith & Ratliff
      Aug 13, 2012 @ 09:09:16

      Can’t believe that Peugeot frame just sits there, unused. Great photos, I love the cycling spirit in Montreal! -RS

      Reply

  9. Lars
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 10:15:35

    Hello, I made a sequence of 99 sad bikes in Hamburg, Germany. I also was very impressed about the stories these bikes might tell. After 10 days I had to stop, cause there are too many here I could stop watching them ;)
    Here my link:

    99 Sad Bikes in Hamburg, Germany

    http://laserfisch.org/99_Sad_Bikes_Hamburg/large-1.html

    Greetings from HH to NY

    Lars

    Reply

  10. New York’s Orphaned Bicycles (Photos) | New York Writes Itself
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 10:41:16

    [...] ATTN taxi drivers: this graveyard gallery of abandoned New York bicycles is for you! Check out a few pics below, and find more at Smith & Ratliff. [...]

    Reply

  11. The Abandoned Bikes of New York City | StyleSOS.co.uk
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 07:49:21

    [...] and Laura of Smith&Ratliff bring us this amazing photo set recording the ever increasing number of abandoned bikes, alone and [...]

    Reply

  12. Not Safe For Riding | Distant Voices, Vibrating Electrons
    Aug 16, 2012 @ 00:15:28

    [...] possibly, crash-landed space ships for tiny [...]

    Reply

  13. Corrina M.
    Aug 16, 2012 @ 13:24:37

    In Philly we know these bikes very well. As part of my practice I decided to visually “fix” some of the bikes in center city. Here are some examples: http://objectsofobjects.blogspot.com/2012/07/bike-phix-now-available-to-press.html

    Reply

  14. Ссылки и мысли #63 : Тысячазнаковбезпробелов
    Aug 21, 2012 @ 04:20:05

    [...] Заброшенные велосипеды на улицах NYC. [...]

    Reply

  15. Weekly Rewind « Fossil Blog
    Jan 09, 2013 @ 13:09:51

    [...] 8. A series of abandoned bikes on the NYC streets on Smith & Ratliff. [...]

    Reply

  16. The Abandoned Bikes of New York City | Urbex/ Urban Exploration | Scoop.it
    Feb 02, 2013 @ 06:43:21

    [...] Since we first pointed out the growing number of unique abandoned bikes around the city, we’ve become particularly observant when we take our routine walks or bike rides around the city. It&#…  [...]

    Reply

  17. The Abandoned Bikes of New York City | Urban Exploration | Scoop.it
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 13:30:25

    [...] Since we first pointed out the growing number of unique abandoned bikes around the city, we’ve become particularly observant when we take our routine walks or bike rides around the city. It&#…  [...]

    Reply

  18. The Abandoned Bikes of New York City | Urbex/ Urban Exploration | Scoop.it
    Feb 28, 2013 @ 00:54:52

    [...] Since we first pointed out the growing number of unique abandoned bikes around the city, we've become particularly observant when we take our routine walks or bike rides around the city. It's easy …  [...]

    Reply

  19. Twisted, abandoned bike carcasses on the streets of New York | Brifingo
    Aug 12, 2013 @ 06:26:54

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

    Reply

  20. Red#5 Yellow#7 (@red5yellow7)
    Oct 20, 2013 @ 18:07:13

    ghost bikes were originally abandoned bikes – a project of an SF artist also admiring their decay. Then in 2003 “Ghost Bikes” became memorials to cyclists who had died or been gravely injured. This year is the 10th anniversary of the Ghost Bikes as memorial movement. We’re hosting the first ever gallery show to commemorate: https://www.facebook.com/events/380536758715300/

    Reply

  21. Bernard Klevickas
    Oct 20, 2013 @ 22:05:07

    Reply

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