A hero rides the bus — DWP employee Chris Bolivar stops a thief and saves a $2500 bike

Dan McLaughlin at the Tour de Palm Springs with his boss Andy Leeka; Dan is on the left

When Dan McLaughlin rode his bike into work on Wednesday, he never thought it would be stolen before he could get back home.

And he never thought a total stranger would run to his rescue, retrieving the bike almost before he knew it was gone.

According to Dan, he tries to ride his bike into work at least once a week. But the two-hour, 25-mile ride each way to his job at Good Samaritan Hospital is too much to sandwich around a full day at the office, so he usually takes the Commuter Express bus back to his home in Palos Verdes.

Wednesday night, he placed his $2500 Trek Madone in the rack at the front of the bus, and settled in to check his email in the back of the bus.

He barely noticed when the bus pulled over at a Downtown bus stop — it was somewhere on Flower, might have been at Washington Blvd, maybe Pico or Venice. What got his attention was the angry honking of the driver; soon everyone was standing, and someone yelled out “Your bike!”

He looked up to see his handlebars moving out of view through the windshield; by the time he got to the front of the bus, the bike was gone. He could see a young man struggling to hop on and ride it off, possibly because of the clip-in pedals.

As he stepped off the bus, though, he saw someone holding his bike. In the excitement, he ran towards him, only to realize that the man was walking back with it.

The other passengers were more than happy to fill him in.

When the bus stopped, the young man got off and immediately started to remove Dan’s bike from the rack. The driver, Pat Kesvy, started honking to stop him, but the thief kept going.

Thanks to DWP employee Chris Bolivar, this bike made it back home Wednesday

That’s when Chris Bolivar flew off the bus in pursuit of the thief. Bolivar, on his way home from his job with the Customer Service Department at DWP, quickly caught up to the struggling thief, scaring him into tossing the bike aside as he ran off down the street.

Bolivar picked it up and walked back, still shaking from the adrenalin rush.

Dan thanked his rescuer, and placed the bike back onto the rack. As they entered the bus, the passengers broke out in a spontaneous round of applause, applauding again when Bolivar got off at his stop.

And despite all odds, Dan McLaughlin made it home with his bike; as he puts it, it would have broken a roadie’s heart to lose a bike like that.

Meanwhile, one of the other passengers sent out an email telling the story, describing Bolivar as a gentleman who typically gives up his seat when the bus is crowded.

I’m told that email made it’s way to Chris Bolivar’s boss at DWP. And when he arrived at work Thursday morning, his co-workers stood up and applauded, as well.

McLaughlin is planning to take him to lunch next week to show his gratitude.

Maybe we should all thank him, in whatever way we can. After all, it could have been your bike. Or mine. And a total stranger cared enough to keep it safe.

It’s not every day you find a real hero riding the bus.

Update: A couple people have contacted me to point out that Chris Bolivar will honored at this year’s Blessing of the Bicycles at Good Samaritan Hospital on Tuesday, May 17th.

And am I the only one who sees a wonderful symmetry in a good Samaritan being honored by Good Samaritan?

20 comments

  1. Forrest says:

    Wow! Amazing bike ‘n bus story all around! Standing ovations… but hopefully no encore!

  2. John says:

    I’ve had friends lose bikes that way, so I never let the bike leave my sight at stops. I try to sit or stand somewhere in the first half of the bus. Also, lock up a wheel if possible, that’s a good deterrent.

  3. jonthelam says:

    Thank you Chris Bolivar. I can only wish there are more folks out there like him.

  4. Jim Lyle says:

    An upbeat story to balance all the recent bad news. Thanks for posting.

    Another option, always shift the bike into the lowest gear before putting it into the bus rack. Anyone lifting the bike is going to have a hard time getting up to speed. A wooden peg in a brake lever is also cheap insurance.

  5. Wow, what a cool story to start the day with. Cheers to Mr. Bolivar.

  6. Carlos Morales says:

    Awesome article thank you for sharing, I am sharing it with everyone I know. ;)

  7. Sirinya says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing the story. I’m glad there are Good Samaritans out there on the bus!

  8. Lexica says:

    Great story – bravo to Chris Bolivar!

    I sometimes lock my u-lock through the frame and front wheel before loading the bike onto the front bus rack. It doesn’t affect my being able to get the bike on or off the rack, but I figure if anybody tries to take the bike off they couldn’t ride it away, and I know darn well from hoisting it up & down the stairs how heavy the thing is — they wouldn’t be able to carry it far.

  9. Allan says:

    And this is why I stand directly behind the yellow line on the bus. It doesn’t matter how crowded the bus gets, I ain’t moving!

    Lexica has a good tip that I used as needed too.

  10. Jon says:

    Also, thanks to the bus driver (I think). It seems that he/she played a part in this as well?

  11. Lance says:

    Great story, mad props to Bolivar for going above and beyond…and to the driver for noticing and caring.

    But seriously, who lets a trek madone out of their sight, on a bus going through DTLA? As a Steelman owner who lived at 7th/spring for three years…I hate to say it, but I almost think Mr. McLaughlin deserved to lose that bike for being so situationally unaware.

    • Louie says:

      Thank you Lance for saying the one thing that I wanted to say. Come on! I don’t let my $300 Novara Buzz beater bike out of my sight when I’m on the bus with it! But am really glad he got it back and it feels good to know that there are still some good people in the world.

  12. danceralamode says:

    Thank goodness for a feel good bike story!

  13. See what a wonderful world this be if there were more Mr. Bolivars out there!

  14. Lena says:

    WHAT AN AMAZING STORY! He had no regard for his own wellbeing; just jumped into action! That’s my big brother! Always on the side of Justice! I shall now call him “SuperChris”!

  15. [...] Another honoree was Chris Bolivar, a cyclist who recently saved another cyclist’s prized bike from theft. Rather than recap, CicLAvia recommends you read the excellent story told well at BikinginLA. [...]

  16. [...] Good Samaritan and DPW employee Chris Bolivar was also honored for saving someone’s bike from being stolen off of a bus rack, and 3 boys from the neighborhood related a harrowing story of one being  hit by an inattentive [...]

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