To Bike a Tree or Tree a Bike: What's Up with Bikes in Trees?

Author: Claire Early

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So long, Christmas ornaments! There’s a new form of tree decoration in town. 

Keen-eyed students and visitors walking around on campus may have noticed that some trees have sprouted a few pedals — bicycle pedals, that is. Treeing bikes (or biking trees, depending on who you ask) is a campus tradition where students find bikes that are not secured to a bike rack and put them in trees. 

This phenomenon isn’t exactly new, nor is it unique to Notre Dame. Online reports of Notre Dame students’ bikes mysteriously appearing in trees date back to 2013. There are also reports of bikes being displaced and reappearing in the foliage of Purdue and Texas A&M. Yet the trend seems more prevalent now than ever. 

If a tree has limbs low enough to the ground and close enough to an unlocked bike, chances are that tree has been made the unwilling victim of a biking more than a few times. 

But what is the point? Whom does it benefit? 

Certainly not the bicycle’s owner, who now has to perform a search-and-rescue mission in between classes. The perpetrator does not seem to benefit much either, as they perform the arguably harder task of finding an unsecured bike and lifting it into the tree in the first place. 

Perhaps it’s just for the enjoyment of the passersby who catches a glimpse of the bikes in branches. There is something tragically beautiful about finding a Schwinn Discover Hybrid Bike immersed in a tree’s colorful autumn leaves. Perhaps these tree-ers of bikes are artists, creating a poetic mixture of nature and human innovation to argue that freedom comes from a return to our roots. 

Or maybe they’re just bored college students trying to have some fun