Does the fear of having your bike stolen keep you from riding anywhere that you would have to leave it parked outside? Do you think that bike thieves are technically so savvy that no matter what kind of lock you have your bike is not safe?
Help us bust this myth and at the same time help those who fear the bicycle thief, to understand how best to thwart their efforts.
Most everyone has either had their bike stolen of know someone else that lost their bike. It can be very upsetting to lose your bike, especially if you use it for transportation. The good news is that there are some simple (not necessarily cheap) ways to protect your bike from thieves and you don’t need to carry 20 different kinds of locks.
Buy Good Locks
The first you need to do is ensure that you have a good lock. When it comes to locks the old adage of “buy a $ 50.00 bike and a $ 100.00 lock” applies. Remember that a cheap lock is only a visual deterrent and can be cut or removed easily by a dedicated bike thief. The most common lock used by cyclists is a U-lock, however these locks are not all created equal, so check the quality carefully. Beware of locks that have cylindrical keys. These types can be opened very easily with the barrel of a ball-point pen.
Secondly you need to have either a second lock or a cable. The U-lock can be used to lock the frame and one wheel. But what about the other wheel. This is particularly important if you have quick release wheels. It can be just as disappointing to come out and find your bike is there, but one of your wheels is gone. If you are choosing a cable or cable lock, remember that again quality matters. Inexpensive cable locks are easily cut and unfortunately are also quite common. As one of the responses indicated, “I’m amazed when I see bikes locked up with some thin cable. It just makes it too easy!”
Lock it Right
So now you have your locks, you need to make sure that you lock your bike properly. Based on the responses and our own experience, lock the front or rear wheel and the frame to a solid “fixed post or bike stand.” Then use either your second lock or your cable to secure the other wheel.
You have to make sure that the post or stand that you are locking to is secure. As Glen indicated, he has had “sign poles uprooted” so check it before you lock to it. This is especially true in downtown areas where sign posts are often secured to a bracket that has been solidly set into the concrete sidewalk. These bolts that secure the post to the bracket can be easily loosened if they are not already loose. Look for a rack or post in an area that has either video surveillance or lots of public traffic, however as this video that Shona sent us shows, you don’t want to depend on others to watch over your bike.
Bike Storage Compounds
If you can find a bike cage or locked area to put your bike inside, even better. If there are lots of bikes being used at your workplace, maybe you should approach your employer about providing a fenced compound for bikes. If this is not an option, the Winnipeg Parking Authority operates “bike corrals” at the Civic Centre and Millennium Library Parkades. The cost is on $ 50.00 per year. As well Eric tells us that a bike cage is being built in the Albert Street parkade “sometime soon.” [2012 update: It’s built!] Membership for the use of this facility is said to be a mere $10.00 plus a refundable deposit on the key.
Things to Consider
Just a couple of other things that your might want to consider. If you have a quick release on your seat, either remove the seat and take it with you, or secure it as well with another cable. It is also a good idea to keep a spare key at work in case you loose your keys, otherwise you will be the one looking like a bike thief as you try to cut or break a lock off your own bike.