As bike is vandalized, a piece of island life may disappear

It would be a shame to see the bike in the tree go away. While Vashon undoubtedly has a lot more to offer than a bike that became encased in a fir tree 60 years ago, the bike is one small thing that makes our island different.

The bike in the tree is a tourist attraction, but it’s also many people’s first taste of Vashon. In typical island style, there are no signs indicating where the bike is — people often have a hard time finding it. There is also no signage explaining how the bike got there or even naming it. The bike in the tree is somewhat mysterious. When people find it and learn its story, they feel let in on a small part of island life. Like the director of the chamber of commerce said, the bike doesn’t necessarily bring business to the island, but it’s simply fun, both for residents and for visitors, and it’s a piece of our island history.

But lately the bike seems to be succumbing to vandalism. Thieves have taken more than ever, and unlike past vandalism, this time the parts have not yet been replaced.

In a similar instance a couple years ago, the exercise bikes at Portage, another island oddity, began to dwindle and then completely disappeared. It was a sorry sight for those who drove by them regularly and enjoyed the quirky Vashon tradition. But eventually some new exercise bikes (and several treadmills) returned to the side of the road, either because islanders cared or maybe because people always have exercise equipment to get rid of. Unlike those bikes, though, when the bike in the tree is gone, it’s gone.

Perhaps the bike in the tree has seen its heyday and will eventually be replaced by the next quirky thing that can be written about in tourism publications and articles about weekend trips to Vashon. But it would be sad to see that happen without at least some effort to keep the bike around. Over the years, the owner of Vashon Island Bicycles has replaced parts that have been stolen, and it’s been said that other islanders have done the same. The bike shop is closed now, so it’s possible the same types of parts won’t be as accessible.

What should be done to preserve the bike in the tree? That’s where local creativity will hopefully come in. The sister of the bike’s original owner suggested a fence, but there could be other options as well. Or maybe just continuing to replace parts is an option itself. Do you have an old, rusty children’s bike lying around? The bike in the tree is no longer the original bike, but if kept up, it could also come to showcase what islanders are known for — lending a hand to help.



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