How Easy is it to Steal a Bike in NYC? Casey Neistat Shows the NY Times

By - Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Filmmaker Casey Neistat wrote an op-ed for the New York Times with an accompanying video showing just how easy it is to steal a bike in NYC. Revisiting a concept of his from 7 years ago, the amateur bike thief uses a variety of techniques to steal a bike from Spring street in Nolita, from Madison Square Park, and even from in front of a police precinct. In the video (above) after each theft they keep track of the time it took to steal the bike and the number of witnesses. But never once does one of the passersby intervene or question the culprit. Known as the bystander effect or diffusion of responsibility, it is theorized that the more people that are around, the less likely anyone is to react. Today is the 48th anniversary of the murder of Kitty Genovese, the textbook example of the bystander effect. On March 13, 1964 for more than half an hour thirty-eight respectable, law-abiding citizens in Queens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks, neighbors being fully aware but completely nonresponsive. “The lack of reaction of numerous neighbors watching the scene prompted research into diffusion of responsibility and the bystander effect. Social psychologists John Darley and Bibb Latané started this line of research, showing that contrary to common expectations, larger numbers of bystanders decrease the likelihood that someone will step forward and help a victim. The reasons include the fact that onlookers see that others are not helping either, that onlookers believe others will know better how to help, and that onlookers feel uncertain about helping while others are watching. The Kitty Genovese case thus became a classic feature of social psychology textbooks.” (Wikipedia) The author, Casey Neistat, concludes his article in the Times suggesting potential solutions to the problem. “But ultimately, greater public awareness may be the only way to substantially curb theft. If someone saw a car being stolen, they would surely call the police. Why should a bike be any different?” Read the full article on the New York Times website here.

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