I have a bicycle in this non-bike-friendly city and I ride it (defiantly) to work, and along the waterfront bike path, and I’m gearing up (no pun intended) to ride around and explore the city. A bike is a great thing – you can cover more ground than if you’re just walking, but you’re connected to the cityscape much more intimately than if you were in a car.

And, I have to say, as a person who was raised in the northern midwest, and then went to Boston, and then to New York, the fact that I’m riding my bike around in November, without freezing my ass off – well, that’s just remarkable. I love it.

But. (There’s always a catch, isn’t there? No catch, no story.)

But. I don’t have a basket on my bike. The original owner of the bike (hi Lisa)  said I should get panniers for the back instead of a basket, because I can carry more stuff and they’re less bulky (you can buy collapsible pannier baskets).

Lisa is probably right (she usually is, about most stuff) except I love to ride no-handed, as I pedal along the flat paving of the Corniche, and having the panniers on the back will disrupt my balance, especially if one is holding a water bottle and the other side is holding a camera. I’d wobble, I’d fall, it would hurt, I’d cry. I don’t want to cry in public on the Corniche.

I want a basket for the front of my bike. You’d think it’s not that big a request, right? I’ve been to three bike shops and nope, nope, nope. I’ve been to some sporting goods stores. Unh-unh.  It’s like my great search for a waffle iron, which Husband finally had to buy when he was in London a few weeks ago.  Couldn’t find a waffle iron here for love nor money (although another friend has a bead on a possible source, so stay tuned).

A basket. Such a simple thing.

Enter the ethical dilemma. Downstairs, in the basement of the building, there are bike racks. Next to where I park my bikes are two bikes that look as if they’ve been abandoned: flat tires, dust, untouched. Even the things in the bike basket–a bike pump, a lock (which is in the basket, closed, and with the key attached), some crumpled pieces of paper – are untouched, and I’m talking months, not days or weeks. Months.

What? Why yes, I did mention a basket.

One of the bikes, which is about the right size for a twelve-year old child, has the perfect basket on its front handlebars. Perfect.

Here’s my question: would it be wrong for me to detach the basket from that bike and put it on my bike? I mean, I’d leave a note with my contact information, and I’d offer either to pay for the basket or return it, if the owner wants it back.

Otherwise the basket is just sitting there, collecting dust. Shouldn’t I liberate it, let it out in the Gulf sunshine to be its best basket-self?

My children, feral beasts that they are, said TAKE IT. They weren’t even sure I should leave a note.

What do you think I should do?