Did a Bike Basket Eat My Purse?

Vintage Purse

You know that horrible, panic-inducing moment when, having stepped off the subway, exited a restaurant or walked 7 blocks from the gym, you discover that your purse is gone? It happened to me recently when my bag went missing during a ride on Citi Bike. The story is one of those New York humdingers, but there’s some practical advice here as well, to prevent this from happening to you.

It all began when husband and I checked out bikes at a Greenwich Village docking station last Sunday for a ride to meet friends for dinner. I plopped my black leather purse into the front rack and pulled the bungee over it, securely I thought.

Six blocks later, we stopped at a red light and I looked down. The bungee was still hooked, but my bag had vanished!

Breathless, I turned steered the bike around and retraced my route (which meant riding opposite the traffic – oh, the shame!) scanning the bike lanes all the way back to the station. Nothing.

I ran upstairs to my apartment, thinking I must have left the bag on the kitchen table. While I searched, the phone rang.  “Are you okay?” asked the person on the other end of the line. He had found my bag.

Apparently, my purse had been ejected from the front rack into the middle of West 10th Street, probably when my Citi Bike bounced over a steel construction plate. The bag had landed upright, ample and perfectly intact, without spillage of my personal stuff, which is to say, my life, onto the cruel pavement.

And I hadn’t noticed a thing.

The good Samaritan and his wife had snatched up the bag just before a taxi ran it over. (My checkered history with purses in bike racks goes back to my first test ride on bike share.)

“The way we found the bag in the middle of the street, it was like a van had pulled up and taken you away – you know, kidnapping style,” the caller said. He seemed vaguely disappointed at a lack of foul play. A resident of my neighborhood, he was dining in a restaurant only a few blocks away. I jumped back on my Citi Bike and a happy reunion with my purse ensued. How grateful I am to that kind man and his wife!

Purse in Citi Bike Rack

Here’s the Citi Bike riding tip I’ve been using ever since. I now sling the strap of my purse over the front panel of the rack, then string the bungee through it. (See photo above.) If I had done this on Sunday, the purse might still have squirted out of the bungee – although I still don’t know how — but its fall would have been arrested by the forward-hanging strap. See the photo above.

Running late for dinner after the pick-up, I found the Citi Bike station near the restaurant full. But just then, a person strode up and checked out a bike, clearing the way for me to dock. I should play the lottery tonight, I thought. Between the return of my purse, and the convenient opening of a dock, the odds seemed in my favor.

Photo: velojoy

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  • That is an incredible story! Plus, it goes to show that New Yorkers are a really kind and helpful lot. I’m so glad that your purse was rescued.

    Stories like this lead me to design my own purse that has an extra strap that attaches to the handlebars of any bike, in the same way that you see roadies drape their helmets on their bars, if that makes sense.

    Now let me tell you about the time I locked up my bike…and left the keys in the lock!

  • This is exactly what happened to me yesterday. My Good Samaritan was a retired cop who found it standing upright and untouched in the middle of Front St downtown. I almost had a heart attack when I finally found a parking space and went to get my ( vanished) purse out of the front rack. Just picked it up this am and decided I am NEVER putting anything in that front rack again ( if I actually ever venture back on a Citibike).

    • Nancy, I’m so glad that you had the same good fortune that I did in being re-united with your purse. I’m constantly reminded of the good-heartedness of New Yorkers by stories like yours. But I feel it would be a shame if this incident prevented you from enjoying all the benefits of Citibike. Keep riding — autumn is the very best time in the city!
      Thanks for reading, and commenting.

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