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It's a growing problem in most major cities, and with more people cycling these days, and many cycling nicer bikes, there is always a risk of having your bike taken. We know from bitter experience how rotten it is to turn up to a bike rack and see your bike lock split in two and your pride and joy missing.
Reporting your bike stolen is all well and good, but the statistics show that the chances of having your bike recovered by the police are minimal. Here in Dublin bike usage has grown by 96% over the last 10 years, which is amazing. Unfortunately bike theft has grown by 126% in that same period, and this is only the number of reported thefts, so the figure is undoubtedly much higher! Figures from 2012 show 5,477 reported thefts and a conviction rate of 2%, so with little or no official deterrent it’s really up to us as individuals to make sure our bikes are as safe as possible. (Stats taken from ECF website)
It would be great to see some sting operations take place, and some proper convictions, which would act as a real deterrent to bike thieves. Check out this example from the UK. It’s swift, pretty full-on, and would certainly make you think twice about stealing a bike!
In an ideal world we would all be locking our bikes indoors, safe from rain and bike thieves, unfortunately most workplaces don’t have a provision for bike parking and if you live in an apartment you’re probably not allowed to bring your bike inside. What we need to look at are the best ways to keep your pride and joy safe when it’s alone on the mean streets.
Firstly what you’ll lock it to. The best type of bike rack is probably the traditional Sheffield stand which you see all over most cities. These stands give good support to stop your bike from falling over, and also give a good variation of locking points for all types of bikes and locks. Failing this a good signpost or lamppost will do the job, but be warned! Look Up Before You Lock Up! A recent customer had his pride and joy stolen when bike thieves took the time to remove 2 signs from a signpost and lift his bike over the top. You can read more about it here on Broadsheet.ie.
Now the all important lock. The first thing to remember is that you spent good money on your bike, it’s giving you joy and freedom, keeping you fit, making you look awesome, and saving the planet!!! Now why did you go to the €2 store and buy a tiny plastic cable to lock it with???
A good rule of thumb is to spend 10% of the cost of your bike on a lock. €50 is a good starting point for very secure locks. Look to the more reputable brands: Kryptonite, Abus, Knog etc. will all have security ratings on their locks to make it easy to judge what is right for you.
2 locks are better than one. And ideally you’ll have 2 different types of lock, these will act as a good visual deterrent as well as making your bike more secure. Use a good d-lock or heavy chain to secure your rear wheel and frame to the stand, then use a secondary cable lock to secure the front wheel.
If you run any quick release components it’s a good idea to replace these if you’re going to be locking your bike outside. Cycling home with no saddle is not something you want to experience. You can pick up a cheap set of allen key skewers for around €10 which will replace the quick release axle skewers and your seatclamp, making it much harder to steal them.
It's also worth registering your bike with a free service like Bikeshepherd.org where you can upload an image of your bike, the serial number etc. It allows you to print out all these details in a handy template for your insurance company. If you're bike is stolen you can mark on the map where it was taken from and put a call out for others to keep their eyes peeled!
It pays to be vigilant when it comes to keeping your bike secure, so be aware, choose where you lock carefully and make sure you've given your bike the best protection you can. Here's a great video from Dublin breaking down the good and bad when it comes to locking your bike.