Bike Lock Fetish

Unlocking my bike in Allston, I ran into my sophomore year Microeconomics 101 Professor Michael Manove and his wife who were admiring my drum bike:

I’ll never forget the awkward silence that engulfed stone lecture hall B50 as Professor Manove taught us how bike locks are a form of deadweight loss: “…now, nobody gains utility from bike locks, that is, unless you have a bike lock fetish…does anyone here have a bike lock fetish?”

Needless to say, I thanked Professor Manove for his excellent lessons in Economics, which would ultimately sway my decision to become an Economics major and u-lock advocate.

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2 Responses to Bike Lock Fetish

  1. matt says:

    Manove’s a rockstar, but why does he say there’s no utility in a bike lock? I can think of

    * added weight on bike burns more calories
    * contributes to “hipster” look if carried in rear pocket of jeans (black jeans, please)
    * lose a drumstick, grab a lock and keep drumming away

    what’s not to like? oh, and there’s the old theft-prevention thing as well…

  2. greg says:

    Manove included a photo in his lecture slide of “the bicycle thief” which “tells the story of a poor man searching the streets of Rome for his stolen bicycle, which he needs to be able to work.” Theft sucks, so we have bike locks to prevent it I think his point was there is little utility other than piece of mind, and the sum of utility gained from that in addition to that of utility you mention still wouldn’t be great enough to offset the cost you bear of having to carry it around all the time i.e. would you still carry around a U-lock if chance of theft were zero? I wouldn’t, so the cost of a u-lock still adds to the price of owning a bike in the city which on the S-D graph (like a tax) shifts the supply curve upwards, creating a nice little triangle of deadweight loss.

    Hehe, I’ve actually tried drumming with my U-Lock, and its a little too heavy to make a decent drum stick.

    Also worth mentioning is that U-locks can be used as nice blunt (defense) weapon.

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