Bike theft is on the rise, and as thieves use more sophisticated methods, we bicyclists need to respond with ever better deterrents to thwart their efforts. Following are a few of the things we’re doing to keep our bikes safe.
For locking out in public where the bikes are most vulnerable, we take the security-in-numbers approach by using a U-lock on the frame and a heavy duty cable lock threaded through the wheels and frame. Since it takes a pry bar to break a U-lock and it takes a set of high-quality bolt cutters to get through a heavy cable, right off the bat we’ve effectively eliminated the thieves who aren’t carrying both, and we’ve slowed down the thieves who came prepared.
If we’re loaded with multiple bags, we may also carry a smaller, lightweight “accessory” cable lock to thread through the bags. This doesn’t ensure the bags are 100% theft proof, but it’s probably enough to keep the random opportunistic thief from running off with the low hanging fruit.
It may seem obvious, but it’s important to lock up to something that’s immovable and at least as strong as a U-lock; there’s no sense in locking up to a little tree that can be snapped in half. Also, locking up to a pole is ineffective if the bike can simply be lifted over the top of the pole. It’s surprising how often I’ve seen both of these methods employed.
We always avoid leaving a bike outside overnight regardless of what kind of lock is employed; giving a thief that much time to work on a lock is asking for trouble. We also avoid locking a bike in a location completely hidden from public view, particularly if the bike is going to be locked there on a regular schedule.
For bike commuters, parking a bike outside, regardless of what type of locking strategy is used, is nowhere near as secure as indoor bike parking. Unfortunately, the building where I work no longer admits bicycles of any type (including folders). As an alternative, the City offers bike parking “bullpens” (fenced parking areas) and a limited number of secure bike lockers. Neither are ideal, but both are preferable to simply locking a valuable bike on the street all day and hoping it’s there when you return.
I’d love to hear what others are doing to keep their bikes safe.