DETROIT—Bicycling to a sports event or concert in downtown Detroit can be a great way to avoid the headache of competing with hordes of cars and trucks for space in a parking garage, but it can still carry its own challenges. Just ask Joe Gall, a freelance photographer for Real Detroit Weekly. He says security at Ford Field cut the lock off his bike on Aug. 6 and left it out in the open while he was busy taking pictures there at a Jay-Z/Justin Timberlake concert.
"No one asked me anything so anyone could have grabbed it," he told Mode Shift during a series of text conversations.
Gall's gold-colored 1978 Schwinn road bike is his primary mode of transportation. Although the 29-year-old Royal Oak resident recently purchased a used truck, he uses that mostly for hauling around lighting equipment. In contrast, he commutes an estimated 150 miles each week on his bicycle.
According to Gall, he parked his bike against a light pole on a public sidewalk near the stadium the evening of the concert and locked it up with a cable and key master lock. When he returned at around 11 p.m., it was gone. After inquiring with a security guard, he was told to check with the security booth.
"The man I asked knew it was a gold bike. He said security had to remove it," Gall said. "I walked towards the booth in the parking garage where the bike was just leaning against a fence in the open."
Confused and upset, Gall said he just grabbed his bike and went home. At the time, he felt lucky he had found it before anyone else. The Schwinn, which once belonged to his father, has sentimental value for him.
Now he feels just plain irritated about how the arena's security treated him and his bicycle.
"The messed up part is I know they watched me chain it up. They also knew I was there for work because gate G is also where I picked up my credentials," he said. "I feel like their actions were pointless, and it was probably just some goon power tripping standing around bored."
It appears that Gall's situation, while frustrating, is far from unique.
Ben Manges, director of Corporate Communications for the Detroit Lions told Mode Shift in an email that Ford Field's "policy is not to comment on specific security incidents involving guests." He did, however, shed some light on the stadium's policy towards locked up bikes.
"Bicycles locked to light poles or racks designated for crowd guidance and control within the perimeter of Ford Field are considered a security liability," he said. "Per Ford Field security protocol, locks for these bicycles are to be cut and bicycles brought to the security command center where they are available for owner claim and pickup."
The recent uptick in two-wheeled transport downtown, though, may lead to a different way of doing things at Ford Field.
"With increased bicycle usage in Detroit," Manges said, "We are evaluating ways we can better accommodate cyclists and expect to have a solution in the near future."
Tell Ford Field to install bike racks on the Detroit Lions’ website.