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KOMO: Sabotaged bike share brakes may have caused teen to crash

Screenshot of the suspect, from a surveillance video released by Seattle Police

An 18-year-old who was hospitalized this week after a crash near the University Bridge may be the first victim of a bike share vandal who cut the brake lines on his Lime e-bike. The teen is in stable condition, reports Gabe Cohen of KOMO News.

If caught, the person who cut those brakes could be charged with assault, police told KOMO. But catching the suspect will be the hard part.

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Seattle Police recently released surveillance video of one person casually snipping brake cables in Sodo. You get the idea from the video that this is not the first time the suspect has cut bike cables. Brake cables on bike share bikes have been cut all over the city, and it’s not clear if this one suspect is just very prolific or whether multiple people are cutting them.

It’s very disturbing behavior to sabotage bikes, risking random strangers’ lives. Unlike most forms of vandalism, this is not just property damage.

You can protect yourself by making it a habit to check the brakes before you start pedaling, not only checking whether the levers move but also confirming they are stopping the wheels. This is in general a good idea even with your personal bike just in case a thief or vandal has tampered with the brakes since you locked it up. But the reality is that everyone is not going to check their brakes every single time they get on a bike.

We hope the victim heals up, and I hope whoever is doing this stops before anyone else gets hurt.

More from KOMO:

A Seattle Fire Department spokesperson says the 18-year-old man was taken to the hospital in stable condition after the crash, which happened on Fuhrman Avenue East in Portage Bay, a block from University Bridge.

A KOMO News crew responded to the scene and found a Lime e-bike there with slashed brakes.

Police say this has been an ongoing problem, with several incidents of brake slashings over the summer. I found four vandalized Lime bikes with their brakes either cut or ripped out Tuesday.

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11 responses to “KOMO: Sabotaged bike share brakes may have caused teen to crash”

  1. How common is this elsewhere. It seems to be a local phenomena. I see Lime bikes that have been abused or just pushed over everywhere. I stop to stand them upright and then on the return trip find them down again. Bike rider animosity is very high here in a “bicycle friendly” city. That being said, as I had an appointment in South Lake Union and rode from West Seattle this morning, I witnessed so many cyclist running red lights and behaving in a way that non cycling motorists will find offensive. Not legitimizing the behavior that animosity brings out but here is another example of how there is a local phenomena of cyclists behaving badly. I never see this in Germany where I spend several months a year. What about other areas of the US?

  2. Joseph Singer

    I hope you’ll let this off-topic bit go by. I notice now that with all the Spin and ofo bikes gone the remaining Lime Bikes all seem to be e-bikes. I’ve not seen any pedal only Lime Bikes. Maybe the rush for sharebikes has run its course. Of course it did not help that the city council decided to price sharebikes out of existence.

    1. Owen

      I’ve been seeing tons of pedal-only bikes at the bottoms of hills, and tons of e-bikes at the tops.

    2. Law Abider

      Yeah, I can confirm there are still a ton of pedal only Lime bikes; plenty of people riding them too.

  3. cam solomon

    On my visit to Seattle last month, I was in a hurry to get to a ferry, and all I found was 4 straight dead e-limes. All I wanted to do was roll down the hill, and would have happily rented a dead one. Alas.

    On-topic. No, bike anger and attempted murder hasn’t reached Albuquerque. Probably because the bike share is fairly nascent, though we just expanded and went semi-dockless. Our anger is saved for buses, oddly enough.

    When the infrastructure is so deadly that no one would dare get in the way of a car going 50-60 on local roads, there isn’t really much for people driving to hate. Nor people walking, because it’s even deadlier. So folks don’t walk here. And the few that do, die pretty quickly. We kill peds at an unparalleled rate.

    1. cam solomon

      Thinking more about it, a technological fix might be the answer. Use the potential energy and a dynamo hub to recharge the batteries, and let anyone roll the e-bikes down hill for free. Win-win.

      Anyone know a bike builder who is doing this?

      1. cam solomon


        Yes. Not yet at the right price-point for shares though.

  4. Jonathan

    Maybe it is a good habit while mounting to hold the bike stationary with the brakes. I find this makes easy to get on the bike, and also provides an automatic check of the brakes, although I never thought about it that way before.

    I will have to pay attention to my habits to see whether I always hold the brakes, or just when I feel like it.

  5. Rick

    Apparently, the bike riders have no responsibility here. As in checking the thing out that has been laying around on public property for roadworthiness. Great retirement plan.

    1. Tristan

      Always a good idea to perform a basic safety check before you ride any bike (yours or another), but way to victim blame.

    2. Dave

      Wow. Is that you in the security cam picture, Rick?

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