Monday, August 11, 2008

Bike Girl May Be A Bait Bike

Photo by onepointzero

Bike Girl is fairly attached to her various bicycles. Often when she leaves them parked outdoors, out of her eyesight, she worries that determined bike thieves will disassemble her bike and make off with her seat, lights, or wheels.

But every time Bike Girl sneaks out to check on her bike, it is untouched. She’s amazed at the lack of bike theft in Los Angeles. In fact, Los Angeles is nowhere to be found on Kryptonite’s list of the top 10 worst cities for bike theft.

However, things do still sometimes get taken. Bike Girl recommends that all cyclists invest in a quality lock and learn to *use it properly.

Police on the University of Wisconsin Madison campus have a different way to deal with bike theft. They’re using “bait bikes” outfitted with GPS devices to track them once they were stolen.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, 16 alleged bike thieves were arrested this summer.

Another part of the theft-deterrent-program is an awareness campaign. The police are distributing leaflets to all incoming students. The leaflets include stickers that say, “This Might Be A Bait Bike.”

Bike Girl supports this program, and thinks these stickers will be much more effective than another sticker on a bike at a college campus in Ohio.

Here are some of Bike Girl’s tips for locking your bike properly:

1. Actually lock it – you’d be amazed how many people’s bikes are stolen when they pop into the store for “just a minute.”

2. Lock it to something that can’t be moved – make sure that when you lock to something, your bike with the lock still on it can’t be moved. Tiny saplings can be cut or pulled out of the ground. Chain link fences are easily cut. Even some bike racks can be picked up off the ground with your bike locked to them and put in the bed of a truck.

3. Use a u-lock, the small kind – there are large and small u-locks. Even though the big ones look like they’d fit around more things, they really don’t. The little ones are big enough to fit around your frame and a parking meter and also fit easily in your pocket or purse.

4. Any part of the frame, except the fork works – you can u lock to any part of the frame. The lower on the frame you lock it, the more of a pain in the ass it is for thieves to break the lock.

5. If you expect it to rain, point the lock part of the u-lock towards the ground – that way you don’t get corrosion in the lock.

6. Use a cable too – the cable can lock the seat and wheels to the frame, while the u-lock keeps the bike attacked to the stationary object. A cable is also handy to have if there are no parking meters or good racks around. You can cable around a tree trunk in a pinch. Bike Girl frequently breaks this rule because she has a false sense of security cultivated by many many uneventful incidents of bike parking.

7. Don’t park your bike outside overnight – not only will your bike stay in better condition longer, thieves won’t see it parked for extended periods of time in the same place consistently. If they know you won’t be around for hours and hours, they have more time to mess with it.

8. The less space in the u-lock, the better – If there’s a bunch of space inside of the U, a thief can get a car-jack inside of it and bust it.

If you have other tips, please leave them in the comments section.


Karen R said...

Bike Girl, this is Karen from Kryptonite...solid, practical advice about keeping your bike safe...liked it so much, linked the post to our want our readers to find your blog, too.

Anonymous said...

ive left my bike unlocked in LA on accident a couple times. once in front of silver lake lounge for 3 hours, and no one took it!


Gary said...

Great work. I linked to this article today in my own post about locks inspired by this post. I focused less on technique and more on which specific locks I use.

Anonymous said...

If you and a friend are running from a bear, you don't need to be faster than the bear, only faster than your friend...

Using this metaphor, my advice is; always make sure the bike next to you is more vulnerable than yours. Worse lock, locked up improperly, not locked, whatever.

OF COURSE if you see the owner, you should advise them how to better secure their bike...