I love bike riding. And I love bike riding around DC. It’s truly a fantastic mode of transportation, whether you’re headed to work or play. Since moving to DC in 2006, with my Cannondale in tow, I’ve noticed a significant increase in the amount of bike traffic. I’d most likely attribute this rise to 1) increased Metro fares, 2) the addition of numerous bike lanes and bike racks, in part spearheaded by the WABA, and 3) the increase in popularity of road biking. Sadly, the increase of bike riding has also meant a parallel increase in DC bike theft, and if you’ve ever had your bike stolen, like me, you know how much of a personal affront it is and how irreplaceable your perfectly fitted and outfitted bike was. So, in an effort to prevent further bike theft and the ensuing anguish, I asked Mike Christian of Revolution Cycles for some tips and advice on how to better secure our bikes.
Mike’s first nugget of wisdom is for all riders to buy a U-Lock and cable combo. Whether you park your bike on the street, in a parking lot or in your building’s bike room, these locks will arm you with the best method possible of securing your bike. Mike recommends combo locks from OnGuard Locks, and points out that OnGuard also provides buyers with varying insurance policies when you register, “the insurance that is offered…you pay either 1$ for 1 year, $10 for 2 years, or $15 for 3 years.) Additionally, if you have renters insurance, be sure your bike is added or included in your policy.
When it comes to other types of locks on the market, Mike says heavy chain locks (like the BEAST series) offer a good, but second best level of security, and that cable locks should be avoided because it can be easily and quickly cut through.
From Mike’s experience at Revolution Cycles, the most frequent bike part stolen (from most to least) are the front wheel, back wheel, saddle/seat and then the entire bike. By locking your bike properly with the U-Lock/cable combo, you should avoid wheel thefts, but for the seat Mike recommends buying a saddle lock. Alternatively, bike seats are often removable, so take your seat with you, if you’re not securing it.
Once you’ve got your U-Lock and cable combo, the next step is learning how to use it to secure your bike properly. “You want to aim to get the U-Lock to go through the seat tube and around the rim of the back wheel. From there you want to loop the cable through the front wheel and into the U-Lock, [so] that way both wheels are locked.” Next choose your anchor location; bicycle rails/racks, lamp posts, street signs, or metal railings are good options. Be sure that whatever you secure your bike to, it cannot be unscrewed or easily taken apart. Also try for a location that is frequented by people and is well lit. And don’t lock your bike in the same area all the time; vary your routine up to prevent thieves from scouting your bike’s location and returning to it with their thievery gear.
Ideally, when thieves spy a properly secured bike, they should immediately be deterred from stealing it and should move on. However, if a thief truly sets his/her heart on a bike, as much as it sucks, it’s likely they’ll get it. Should that happen, be sure to report the theft to the MPD.