Bicycle Groundscores: Finding Things in the Street

Last month, on my traditional lunchtime ride home to serve as Ginger's doorman, I found a 12-foot metal rod laying in the road.  The auto traffic was swerving to avoid it--swerving into the bike lane, I might add with a grumble. Sooooooooo I stopped, picked it up, and--ultimately--brought it home.  I considered just tossing it out of the way of traffic, but I hate to see things going to waste and it was only a block and half to the house.  Plus, I thought it would be a funny thing to tote home on my bike.  Matt was amused when I called him out to the porch to see my find.  We're going to cut it into lengths and use it as stakes in the garden.  

The recently found 12 foot rod.

In addition to finding occasionally useful objects (like bags, screwdrivers, and bungie cords), I like to pick up the fallen random junk because it can be hazardous laying out in the street.  In November 2020 a passing vehicle kicked up a railroad spike, despite being nowhere near a railroad track.  It bounced loudly across the asphalt before crashing into the front tire of my bike.  The spokes took the damage and not my legs, thankfully, but it inspired me to pick up more than just the useful stuff when possible. 

The railroad spike that hit my bike year back.
This 12-footer is one of the biggest things I've picked up while cycling about my fair city, though not the heaviest.  That is probably the much shorter metal rod I found after a road construction project along my commute.  The plastic dinosaur toy--my Groundscoreasaurus--might be the funniest thing I've picked up on my ride.  I strapped her on the handlebars and now she's my bicycle mascot.  The needle nose pliers with the blue handles are probably the most useful bicycle groundscore.  They're a really nice pair.  Or the tree lopper.  That was a good find, too.
Me and Groundscoreassaurus.

I would say that tools (and related ephemera) are the most common category of objects I find on the street--screw drivers, pliers, snippers, clamps, ratchet straps, work gloves, wrenches, bolts.  So.Many.Bungie.Cords.  And, oh, the screws!  The latter being an occasional bane to my bicycling life.  I bet every bungie cord we own was picked up from the parking lane. 

A couple of found tools.

Earlier this year I found an iPhone (that was remarkably undamaged) in the middle of the bike lane and was able to reconnect it with its (very grateful) owner.  Same story last year, but with a set of lost keys.  I've helped chase down a number of dogs that have gotten away from their humans.   Twice I've found my own (recognizably homemade) scrunchie on the asphalt!  Ha!  ...and once Matt and I had to backtrack and find my own keys when I somehow made it home without them!  (Ohhhhh, Beth, Beth, Beth....)  

The clothes line and the flooded lawn after a heavy rainstorm.  It has been raining quite a bit so I've had to use my indoor drying rack more than normal for the summer. 

I spotted our clothesline in a heap at the curb as I passed by on my bike, though we returned for it later with our car.  That probably nudges out the needle nose pliers for most-useful found item, now that I think about it.  I'm a big fan of air-dried clothes year round.  We got our "work horse" of a wheelbarrow in a similar curbside fashion, too.  Turns out I've actually told that story twice (here and here) since I find the visual of Matt with his bike in the wheelbarrow so funny.

A rod-turned-garden-stake that I found on my commute.

Moving through the world at 10-15mph it is easier to see these lost items--and easier to pull over and retrieve them, too.  Or stop and lend a hand, in the case of the wayward dogs weaving obliviously through traffic going 35 mph.  I also pick up trash if it isn't too icky and/or if I can lay eyes on a nearby receptacle for it.  One time this woman and I did a tag-team clean up of dozens and dozens of cardboard boxes inexplicably strewn all down the middle of the road.  We leapfrogged each other up the street, stopping to pull the boxes to the trash cans along the curb, moving up the street again and then again until the stream of cardboard had been corralled.  We gave each other an accompished nod and went on with our days.

The slower speed and ease of stopping also makes it impossible to resist the entrepreneurial children and their lemonade stands.  ;)   They're so cute and sweet.  Prolific at this time of year, too.


  1. Hi Beth,'ve found some amazing things...I occasionally find things on my rides the metal socket thing-y I used to reattach the Madame Alexander doll's head... I've found things that I've returned to other people as well...a credit card...and a necklace recently...
    ~Have a lovely day!

    1. Thanks for reading--and sharing--T! I hope you're having a wonderful day.

  2. Oh I love this so much! You are such a good neighbor, community-minded person. Just read an article in the paper this morning and cops on bikes in our city and the slower, human pace is so beneficial to policing for the same reasons you named. (Also! So glad you did not get hurt from that crazy railroad spike - sheesh)

    1. I hadn't though about the connect to bicycle cops. I bet you're right though. We have a couple here and they do so much for our downtown community especially.

      Thanks for your sweet comment, too. Much appreciated. I just try to do what I can in my little corner of the world.


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