As I previously wrote about, locking the bike is key if you want to enjoy it. Today, I am going to focus on how to avoid bike thefts. Of course, the best way is to lock your bike at home, specially on nights, but this is not always possible. When you lock your bike in the street, you should consider a few points:
Locking bikes on thin metal bicycle parkings is a bad idea. Better, locked it to a sturdy, hard to hack post or a tree (this last point could be controversial according to some local laws)
Difficult, but not impossible: Locking wheels to the frame so that they can’t turn, but not locking the frame to a post or something. Bicycle can easily be carried away and locks open at one’s convenience at home.
Locking just wheels, not the frame itself, to a post or a tree. Wheels are simply taken off, left, while the rest of the bike is carried away.
Locking the frame, but leaving the chain close to the ground. Ground provides lots of leverage for different cutting tools. Keep locks as high as possible.
Having too long to wide locks and padlocks, leaving room to insert leverage metal bars, car lifting jacks etc – is also a bad idea.
Combine at least two types of locks so that thieves must use at least two different tools.
Lock the frame to a strong immobile object, putting the lock through the frame so that it can’t be taken off without cutting the frame (or the lock).
Lock both wheels (to the frame, or an immobile object).
Make sure saddle, or other expensive parts are either taken off, or locked to the frame as well.
No method is 100% safe. Even a well locked bicycle with a good lock takes about 20 minutes to hack. If the thief uses a battery powered angle grinder, it is just few minutes. However, if the bike is better locked than the other bikes in the street and it doesn’t look more expensive, there is a greater chance you conserve it the next day.
When one thinks about locking the bike to a cycle parking or a piece of a street furniture, it is always useful to consider three key elements in whatever bike. No matter if you have a folding bike, tandem or mountain bike, all have the same parts. Saddle, front and rear wheels should be properly locked as these elements are the most common target of bike thieves. Of course, they can steal the whole bike, but it is normally faster to just rob one part. Nevertheless, I will write about the whole bike and the ways of locking it right in other time. For now, take into account how your bike elements are secured because it is not the same having fast-open locks, locking skewer or traditional nuts. The last ones make thefts to take more time, because an adjustable wrench is needed. Also, try to use different locks so that you have an indirected advantage: more than one tool is need.
As it comes to bike locks, you can find several types in the market.
- Chain and padlock: Hardened steel chains are heavy, but flexible. Try to use one with hexagonal profile so that cutters press on a wider area, creating less force per mm. It should be at least 10 mm thick.
- Cable with lock: Cable locks use to be easy to carry and flexible. However, they are a bit easier to cut and I recommend use them as additional locks.
- U-lock: Lower weight per level of protection and easy to carry, but it has the lowest flexibility and you need to find a proper post.
- Folding lock: The best locks joint with the U-locks. The folding locks offer good security and are easy to carry.
Cheap bad locks and poorly locked bicycles are taken within a minute or less with ordinary tools every small thief has. Better use a combination of good locks and lock the bike in secure, crowded places.
Few weeks ago I talked about the “anillo ciclista” as one the most important cycling infrastructures in Valencia. It was inaugurated with the obliged cut of the ribbon. This change has been demanding by Valencia en bici for more than 23 years. The former government of the city demonstrated a total rejection towards bicycles and sustainable movement. It has became possible thanks to the new government. Not only has it constituted a symbol for the change in the urban movement, it also has represented an improvement for pedestrian as we enjoy more space on the sidewalks. Furthermore, cars do not drive at so high speed since the new bike line has reduced one car line. This fact has helped to correct part of the infamous highways inside the city, although there is still a lot of work to do.
Hundreds of urban cyclists have met to celebrate it. The inauguration has took place in an informal way. The new government has proposed itself not to inaugurate anything due to the fact this was a form of generating manipulated pieces of news by the former government. Indeed, the opening party has been made by people from Valencia en bici. The mayor and the councilman of sustainable mobility have been presented looking the event. After that, we have rode it forming two groups which in turn have divided in subgroups. One of the first has started riding clockwise whereas the second big group has done it the other side. We have coincided in front of the Serranos towers at the end.
The use of a helmet when riding a bike is always a controversial issue. Some people argue that it can save your live in an accident. Some politicians have pushed its use with specific laws just to follow the previous point. Curiously, the same politicians do not ride bikes. They prefer driving cars. They also think helmets are a kind of titanium armor, able to stop bullets and space rockets. I think the statement is false in most of the cases. The true key is that the helmet does not save your life in a car accident, the car speed does. Studies show that the more car speed, the more probability a cyclist has to die. The probability a biker lives in an accident driving the car at 50 km/h or approximately 31 miles/h is less than 10% and it diminishes as car speed increases. Moreover, the low speed bikes reach, normally bellow 25 km/h or 15.5 miles/h, makes it unnecessary. The helmet use is compulsory in some countries and areas. What was its impact on the number of biker use the next months after approving by law? They have discouraged bikers to use the bike.
To sum up, forcing bikers to wear helmet is not a correct way to improve bike use or reduce cyclist deaths. It is better to force cars to drive slower, not to mention the fight against climate change.