We’re going to talk about something a little more serious than usual today: stolen bikes and how to prevent your bike from getting stolen. According to a few recent studies, surveys and FBI statistics, year-round cyclists are 90% more likely to have their bikes stolen than seasonal or occasional cyclists. Additionally, there are just over 1.5 million bicycles stolen in the U.S. each year.
So how do you protect your investment and, in many people’s cases, one of your only modes of transportation? We’re happy to share some solid advice and bike theft prevention tips that’ll keep your Swift from becoming just another statistic – because that would make us seriously sad.
The Six Commandments of Bike Theft Prevention
Always use a lock.
Always! We can’t overstate the importance of locking your bicycle up, no matter how long you plan on being, how close in proximity you’ll be, whether you’re at your own home or a friend’s. If you think we’re being overly cautious consider this: 70%-80% of stolen bikes were left unlocked.
Two locks are better than one.
We recommend using U-locks on all of your rides, however, there are some shackle- and cord-style bike locks that can be effective too. In fact, a better option is to use two U-locks or one U-lock and one chain on your bike; one on the front and another on the back. When using a U-lock on your bike, make sure the lock is around a fixed object (guard rails, bike rack or pole), the rims of both wheels, and some part of the bike’s frame. Cables, even the stronger ones, can still be cut by determined or well-equipped thieves. Here are a few tried-and-true bike locking products we recommend checking out.
Location, location, location.
Don’t lock your bike to something that can be easily cut, like a chain link fence or small tree, even some aluminum posts. Instead, opt for somewhere that other cyclists park. This is because chances are, if a thief comes by, there will be other bikes with less secure locks than yours. As for the lock itself, try and position it as far away from the ground as you can to prevent a thief from using the ground to smash the lock. Ever seen a bicycle locked to a pole that’s at shoulder-level or higher? Now you know why.
More than one way to skin a cat.
Did you know there are 180 possible locking configurations to secure a typical two-wheeled bicycle to a typical bicycle stand? Of those configurations, just 23 were categorized as “good,” or “secure”? It’s true. Almost half of all bicycles stolen resulted from improper lock usage. Check out the images for different lock configurations to try out.
Don’t assume your bike’s safe because it’s snowing.
Bike thefts happen all year round, peaking in July. If you think it sucks having your bicycle stolen, just try having it stolen in 20 degree, snowy weather. Exercise the same cautions during winter that you would in warmer months, and if you’re ever stuck parking your bike without a lock then hide it in the snow. Seriously though, don’t forget your bike lock.>
Avoid flyparking when possible.
Flyparking is the term that describes bicycles that are locked to various street furniture and objects like lampposts, parking meters, benches, street signs – anything that isn’t designed for bicycle parking. Flyparking is iffy because when a cyclist flyparks, chances are they can only secure one part of the bicycle. When using a proper bicycle rack or other designated object, you can secure multiple parts of the bike, making it a lot harder to steal.
For year-round and every day bicycle commuters, registering your bicycle with a national bike registry service can provide you an extra bit of protection in case the unthinkable does happen and your bicycle is stolen. If this happens, call the police and make a report. Bicycles are recovered by the police, but not if you never report that yours was stolen! If you previously registered your bike with a registry service and your bike is found by police, they will be able to look up the registry number and return it to you.