Park your bike in a well-lit, public area
Bikes are big investments for cyclists. Ensuring proper security when leaving them unattended is an absolute must. Theft can be an issue in even the safest communities, as would-be thieves are savvy to the most lucrative opportunities and don't discriminate between neighborhoods. They're looking for a quick score, and any means you take to deter theft can mean the difference between two wheels and none.
Here are eight essential tips that will help ensure you find your bike just the way you left it.
1. Lock your bike
Always lock your bike when leaving it unattended. Locking your bike is the fundamental means to deterring theft. Even if you're stepping away "just for a moment," remember that an unattended bike also makes for the perfect getaway vehicle.
2. Find a secure location
Park your bike in designated parking areas. Parking areas should have secure bike racks, embedded or flush-mounted to solid concrete, or bike lockers and should be located in well-lit, high-traffic areas—ideally near building entrances with video surveillance.
3. Avoid non-designated bike-parking locations
Road signs, trees, scaffolding, fences and railings often present attractive parking for cyclists but are often less secure and risk obstructing pedestrian or road traffic.
Use a U-lock to secure both tires and frame
- Road signs can often be easily removed by unfastening a bolt and lifting it from its collar. Posts missing their signs mean a bike can be removed by lifting overtop. Some signs, such as bus stops, mark high-traffic areas where stationary bikes are likely unwelcome.
- Trees can damage easily, and in some communities, locking your bike to a tree is illegal and can be fined up to $1,000.
- Scaffolding and fences are rarely secure. Scaffolding is designed to be disassembled quickly. Chain-link fences can easily be snipped through, and wooden fences can be sawn or smashed apart.
- Railings typically demarcate pedestrian-designated areas. Wheelchair ramps should especially be avoided as cumbersome bikes can be difficult to manoeuvre around for those who require accessibility.
4. Buy the best lock available
Even the most expensive locks will be cheaper than buying a new bike. There are a range of options that make for secure bike parking and that offer convenient means to affixing to your bike while riding. U-locks (sometimes referred to as D-locks) or solid chains made from hardened steel offer effective and affordable security. Don't buy a larger lock than you need, as any extra space can offer mechanical advantage when trying to remove. Always buy new locks, as there's no guarantee that a used lock hasn't been compromised.
5. Secure all essential points
Be sure to secure the frame and both wheels—especially if wheels can easily be released. Either remove the front tire, locking it to the frame and rear tire or consider a second lock. If using a second lock, find one with a different locking mechanism, as this will require a multiple sets of tools to remove.
Use bike racks that are properly secured
6. Remove all unsecured components or park in a fully enclosed space
Remove all lights, paniers, water bottles and quick-release seats or tires. Anything that isn't fastened can be quickly and easily removed and sold. Alternatively, some businesses and public spaces offer fully-enclosed bike lockers that will ensure these items aren't stolen.
7. Register and personalize your bike
Register your bike with a national security registry. Some local law-enforcement agencies offer bike registry services. In general, it's always important to be able to prove ownership of your bike. Make sure to keep a copy of the serial number in your phone, or find ways to personalize your bike with easily-distinguishable features.
8. Request adequate parking
If you frequent a location that doesn't offer adequate bike parking, consider making a request to the business or property manager. This can be done in-person, over the phone or in writing. If you have friends or co-workers who could also benefit from designated parking areas, a combined request can show more demand and have more impact.
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