By Charles Hagman
Bicycle theft is a problem.
Yesterday, I was walking 12th St downtown, and I saw this wheel locked to a street sign at 12th and H st NW. My guess is that it used to be a bicycle locked to sign. Unfortunately, it looks like the rider only locked the wheel. A thief, then, quick released the wheel and walked away with a frame and rear wheel in about 20 seconds. Less time then it would take to get your keys out and remove the u-lock. This is not a one time incident. This couple in Columbia Heights had eight bikes stolen in two years. This Toronto man was caught with 2,865 bicycles.
The best thing you can do is learn how to properly lock your bicycle. If it’s not locked down eventually it will get stolen. Lights, seats, wheels, anything really. Removing the front wheel each time, might be overkill for a quick run to the grocery store; however, at a minimum your frame, the most expensive component, should be locked to something that’s not going anywhere.
In terms of what to lock you bicycle with, cable locks are pointless; they prevent fourth graders from getting your bicycle, but that’s about it. Invest in the best u-lock you can buy. Do not get a u-lock with a round key, they can be picked with a bic pen.
My u-lock has a square 13 mm schakle (you’d have to cut through both sides to break it free) and a flat key. If I didn’t buy the best I could, I’d always wonder. The lock is from Germany and tough to find (City Bikes carries them). Slate has also published reviews of locks rating them by security, ease of use, and value. They recommend the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit U-lock which is more widely available in the US.
If you’re parking at work, ask if bicycle parking is available. If it’s not, ask if they can put rack in the garage. Ask again. And last resort if secure and accessible indoor storage is not available, you can lock your bicycle outside. But lock it properly.
For the most part, locks are a deterrent, but why make your bicycle the low hanging fruit to a thief. And seriously, you don’t want to be made fun of by Hal.