If you’re planning to stop anywhere on your rides you’re going to need a good lock to make sure your bike is still there when you get back! There’s a wealth of information on all kinds of locks to be found here.
2 Good Locks
For the best deterrent you should be using two good locks to secure your bicycle, preferably of two different kinds so that a thief can’t use the same tools on both. Check the Sold Secure rating of any lock you buy and aim to have a Gold or Silver rated lock as your main defence; official advice states you should spend 10% of your bike’s value on locks, but realistically you should spend as much as you can afford. Good locks tend to be anywhere from £25- £80 and, whilst this may seem extravagant, it’s almost certainly cheaper than buying a new bike!
Locking Your Bike
When locking your bike, always make sure your lock goes through the wheels and the frame. The easiest way to do this is to put your lock through either the seat tube or seat stays on the frame and then through the rear wheel before securing it to an immoveable object. This stops thieves from taking your rear wheel and fills the lock’s shackle- making it harder for a thief to break your lock with leverage attacks. Using a cable or chain to lock your front wheel to your frame will then keep it in place. If you have quick release wheels you could also simply remove the front wheel and lock it to the rear wheel and frame with a single lock. No lock is absolutely fool proof of course, but it’s all about making your bike as difficult to steal as possible; most thieves will move on to easier pickings.
Make sure you take any small and easily stolen accessories such as lights, panniers and cycle computers with you when you lock up. You may also want to consider securing your saddle, there are small cables available for this or you could use a length of bike chain. Sadly if it looks like it could be stolen, they’ll probably try.
Where to Lock your Bike
Obviously the safest place to store your bike would be inside your home or with you at your destination but this isn’t always practical, so parking in the street is a necessary risk for most of us. Where possible use cycle stands or bike racks, such as ‘U’ stands, as these are specifically designed for double lock parking, though you should always check that the stands are securely bolted to the ground. Avoid cycle parking which only lets you lock one wheel, it’s easy for thieves to remove the wheel and walk off with your bike!
Where no specific cycle parking is available then use secure and immobile street furniture such as railings or lamp posts. Try and lock up in busy public places, though you should make sure your bike isn’t in the way of anyone, as thieves will be less likely to strike if there are a lot of witnesses. Choose sturdy places to lock up as wooden, thin or rusty railings will be easier to cut through than you bike lock. Wherever you lock up make sure a thief couldn’t just lift the bike over the top; for example a signpost could simply by unscrewed and you bike hoisted over it. Avoid locking up in areas which specifically prohibit it as business owners or the council may legally remove your bike.
If you’d like to discuss the options for cycle parking at your work place then feel free to contact our Cycling projects team on 020 7234 9310 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like a Bike Hangar where you live for secure street parking then fill in the form here.
Registering your Bike and Bike Marking
If your bike should happen to be stolen, you’ll be far more likely to get it back if you’ve registered it online. Registering your bike’s description and frame number on sites such BikeRegister, Check That Bike and Immobilise allows the police and bike shops to find your details and return your bike to you should they come across it after a theft. It will also make it harder for thieves to sell the bike online as even cursory checks will show that it’s stolen! The police run free bike marking and registering events frequently, so check here to find one near you.
What If Your Bike Gets Stolen Anyway?
If you can see that your or another person’s bicycle is being stolen you should call 999 immediately. Once you know your bike has been stolen you should report it straight away, either online or by calling 101. Provide as much detail as possible, including a description, frame number, picture, and approximately when and where it was stolen. Always take down your Crime Reference Number as this will be key for checking in with the police about any progress they’ve made as well as vital for insurance companies. Even if you don’t think you’ll get your bike back, it’s important to report theft so the there is an accurate representation of the problem in the city. This may motivate how the police distribute their resources and help stop bike theft in the future.
You can search for your bike online through sites such as Bikeshd or Find That Bike which provide pictures of all bikes for sale on auction websites. Bike related social networks like Stolen Bikes UK and London Fixed Gear and Single Speed Forum can also be useful, providing awareness and hundreds of eyes looking out for your bike as they ride through the city. If you do find your bike then call the police on 999 or 101, or if you are in London, send an email to email@example.com, a specialised police unit that is experienced at tackling online sales of stolen bikes. Bear in mind though that unless your bike is registered or is highly distinctive it is unlikely that the police will be able to reunite you.