Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bike thieves and humanity

Why is bike thievery so rampant? Two reasons, people don't care to stop thieves and bikes aren't locked property.
A cyclist in the UK got fed up with thieves and did a little experiment to see how easy it really is to steal a bike. He stole his own bike nine times and no one did a thing. (story)
Another guy did the same in thing in New York. Maybe I'll do an experiment in Sacramento, see if folks here are a little more proactive.
So, how do we protect ourselves from the hordes of thieving jerks? It's all about low hanging fruit.
A few weeks ago I road up to the bike rack outside Target and began the arduous task of looping my cable through my tires, the rack and my u-lock. I glace over and see a pretty pink cruiser chill'n with an adorable basket. The first thing I notice is the basket is locked to the rack.
I thought to myself, "Is this neighborhood really so bad someone might steal the basket right off your bike... should I lock up my basket too? I guess anything that's not locked down is libel to get stolen, that person is just being extra cautious. If a basket thief comes by and sees that basket locked up they're surely going to go for mine... I should lock up my basket."
Then I realized, the basket was the only thing locked up! The basket, attached to the bike with a few measly screws was the only thing between just riding away on that adorable cruiser.

Here are some other classically bad moves for locking up a bike:
Image from: This Girl's Bike
See the error made here by the Linus's owner? That beautiful bike is just locked up by the front wheel, a mistake made by another bike owner on that same rack. Front wheels are way cheaper that an a whole new bike, so be sure to lock up the frame as well.
Image from:
Even cable locks with a U-lock when not used correctly will result in the absence of your bike upon return. Be sure the frame is attached to the rack and the U-lock. Cables are good for securing the tires.

Image from: SFstreetsblog
Of course, wheels are also valuable, so be sure to deter theft by using a cable lock to secure the front and back wheel to the U-lock and around the rack.
Even with all that you still risk someone using a crowbar on the u-lock or striping all your extra parts. In that case, try not to leave it locked up where you can't see it for too long.
Here are some articles reviewing different bike locks, if you ride an expensive bike getting one with a warranty is most beneficial. I ride bikes I buy used for $50, but they have so much emotional value; I should probably get a $100+ bike lock.
Here's a German made bike lock I haven't seen reviewed, ABUS.
They have the full range of U and chain locks, as well as these folding locks I'd like to see in action.
In the end I wish we lived in a world where this wasn't an issue, where we didn't have to think about the many ways someone could steal our bikes... but we do. And I hate to see a pretty pink cruiser fall victim to an owner's stupidity.


Kari said...

I've got an AXA Defender lock on my bike, and I LOVE it. My boyfriend uses both a U-lock and a cable lock, and it takes me about half the time to lock my bike that it takes him to lock his.

I really don't know why rear-wheel locks aren't common in the US--they're pretty standard on European bikes. Ironically, a couple of summers ago I came back from Amsterdam (where I'd rented a bike for a couple of days) to find my bike stolen out of my backyard... that's when I resolved to find a rear wheel lock for my new bike.

I don't have pics of it, but here's a blog post that shows how it works:

Kari said...

FWIW, I got my AXA lock with the optional chain that plugs into the lock. Expensive, but so was my bike! I've left my bike parked outside of the mall downtown at night time, and it's always been there when I've come back. Knock on wood. :-)

Peter Hogan said...

Bike thieves are the lowest of the low.

lonsac said...

I just got a vintage bike and I am so in love with it I'm scared to take it out. Ahhh...what's the point of a bike if you are afraid to ride it. I just need to find a good bike lock.
P.S. I saw you riding the other day on my way home from work! You looked so insanely cute its kinda ridiculous. Any recommendations for bike locks?

Anonymous said...

Bike thieves have no humanity


Forevermelody said...

I suggest getting a nice, heavy duty U-lock, one with a warranty and a cable for the wheels.

Anonymous said...

I actually carry two u-locks (put a lock through each tire and the frame and the rack), have a locked seat leash, extra-tighten the bolts on my handlebars, and never have quick-release ANYTHING on my bike. I live in Oakland, and, seriously, people will steal anything they can.

k come karolina said...

no way...they0re still stealing bikes! :///

happy holidays!!!
xoxo from rome

Jaron Latona said...

It's just effing ridiculous that we have to haul around so much crap to protect our bikes in the first place. It's true that bike thieves are pretty low.


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