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 BikeSee 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: Bikeportland.orgEven 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: SFstreetsblogOf 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.
- Slate.com: Avoiding Bike Theft
- Commutebybike.com: The Very Best Bike Locks
- REI: How to Choose a Bike Lock
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.