Peter R. Clapper rode his bicycle to L'Enfant Plaza to have lunch. When he arrived, he saw neither a bike rack nor a sign prohibiting bicycles, so he chained his machine to an out-of-the-way tree.

When lunch was over, Peter discovered that his bicycle was gone. A security guard in a nearby building told him he'd probably find the bike in the basement, and he did. A large chain that had "secured" the bicycle to the tree and a small chain that ran between the front wheel and the frame had both been cut.

Peter protested to the management that its action had been "destructive, embarrassing and unnecessary." He suggested that a courteous warning would have been more appropriate.

When I asked Peter whether he had parked his bicycle on public or private property, he readily conceded that he had left it on private property, and that the landlord had probably been within his legal rights to remove it. If a property owner can cause the removal of an automobile parked on his land without permission, the same rule would probably apply to bikes.

However, it seems to me that there is a larger issue involved here. More people than ever before are now using bicycles as everyday conveyances, as well as for sport. Surely there is need to work out parking accommodations for them, just as motorists must learn to live with bikers on streets and highways.

If and when bikes become less popular, the need for accommodation will no doubt change again. But for now, bikes seem to be here to stay, and I am inclined to agree with Peter that there are better ways to deal with a first offender than to cut his chains and remove his bicycle.