Friday, September 19, 2008

Part III - Bicycle Security: Conclusion

Concluding this three part guide on the topic of avoiding bike theft, which started with; Part I - Bike Theft Choices, this article also looks at bike parking locations and decisions.

Statistics show that, depending on who is consulted;

“A bike is stolen every 71 seconds in the UK”

“A bike is stolen every 65 seconds in the UK”

Neither choice makes for happy perusal. The fact remains that stealing bikes remains a low risk and high reward combination for thieves. The Metropolitan Police are not interested in the problem and it is largely treated as a paperwork exercise.

The cycling adage of “strength in numbers” seems not to apply to public bike racks. London's selfish individualism is exposed in this respect, where no-longer can you rely on reserves of have-a-go heros, to tackle the bad guy busting a lock in 17 seconds.

Many “official” cycling tips advise that bikes be left in busy public areas, in clear view of passers by. Personally, I disagree, based on the fact that everybody does exactly that; passes by.

Where to leave your bike?

Professional criminals will ultimately steal something if they really want it, and bike theft centres on desire. If you lock a desirable bike in a public place, the bicycle thieves on patrol will eventually see it. So an underrated logic is; don't show the bike thieves the bike in the first place.

The traditional idea is that if you leave a bicycle in a secluded room, the bike thief has an uninterrupted opportunity to go to work on the locks. True, but as we've seen, a public spot is not much deterrent anyway.

Personally I'd feel happier locking my bike in a store cupboard or locked garage, because no attention is being drawn to the bike while it is hidden away.

Alternatively, I've had office jobs where the (conventional) bike has lived next to my desk at work. Aside from the benefit of having a permanent security guard (me), the bike became a talking point and encouraged others to cycle to work, whilst also reminding the employer that the need for secure bicycle parking is genuine.

Folding bikes then, have a huge advantage in terms of security because they need not be left unattended, and can be stowed pretty-much anywhere convenient; under desks, on shelves, completely off the thief's radar.

London bike theft

Stepping back to ask why bikes are stolen, aside from international criminal gangs who ship stolen bikes abroad, it brings the simple domestic mechanics that we the riding public are willing to buy stolen bikes: Sometimes we are duped, sometimes we are suspicious, and sometimes we irresponsibly turn a blind eye.

It doesn’t matter if the story is; “it’s second hand…” or “clearing out my old gran’s house…” it is inexcusably obvious that a bike worth £500 being sold for £50, is stolen. Short-sighted buyers who help perpetuate the demand, receive a severe dent in karma-phala and a path strooned with guilt-ridden punctures.

Open question: Where do you lock your bike during the day?

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Anonymous said...

My bike sits happily in a basement car park all day, it's locked securely and out of sight, off the street. Seems to be a secure combination.

el director! said...

leave it in full public view. but i make sure that my bike looks so filthy that no one wants to steal it. plus a couple of big chunky chains and padlocks puts thieves off.

Matt Dinnery said...

I lock mine in the local town centre car park when I'm out - it's a secure room at the back of the multi-story with plenty of bicycle racks. Only security can let you into the room, and it is covered in CCTV!

Otherwise, it's a D-lock to the frame and rear wheel, long key lock around the frame and one or two anchor points, and finally a short combination lock to bind the front wheel to an anchor and the frame. Nothing like making sure it stays put, is there?

As I'm taking a bunch of 10-or-so cyclists down to London from Sunderland in July 2009, any tips on where to park or where not to park?


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