Keeping your bike safe
Why it's important to keep your bike safe
Over the last 10 years, the amount of bikes stolen each year in the UK has doubled - its around half a million at present.
The vast majority of these are 'opportunist' thefts. In other words, the bikes stolen are usually those left unattended just for a few minutes - maybe while the owner nips into a shop and the bike is out of sight for 30 seconds - that's all it can take.
With opportunist thefts, the bike is usually ridden away so as not to attract attention.
To prevent this type of theft you must ensure that your bike is either 'immobilised' in some way, or secured to a fixed immovable object.
What can I do about it?
To avoid your own bike becoming one of those stolen, there are a few basic steps you can take:
- Never leave your bike unlocked, not even when you can see it from where you are.
- Choose a place to leave it where there are lots of people around - always give a thief less opportunity to work unnoticed.
- If there are no purpose-built bike racks or stands around, lock your bike to something strong and immovable. If you have to choose a piece of street furniture or a railing, its important that you don't obstruct people's passage.
- Only use a good quality bike lock (see below). A poor quality lock at the lower end of the market can be easily sawn through or bolt cropped in seconds. You do get what you pay for. Police guidelines suggest that you spend approx 10% of the value of your bike on a lock to secure it.
- If there are items on your bike that are easily removed (eg quick release wheels, saddles etc) make sure that these items are also secured (or better still, remove them and take them with you).
Types of Lock
There are many of types of locks available, but which one is best?
Most people use one of two types:
Cable, Chain & Padlock Type - (usually the cheapest option)
This is usually the cheapest option and can the most flexible, with cables and chains coming in varying lengths. Cables should be of the multi-wound multi "braided" type. A braided cable with many thin wire strands is far more difficult to cut than a cable which consists of a lesser number of thicker strands.
Chains should prove more secure than cables for longer periods but are considerably heavier. They can be virtually any length and because chain collapses into a pile, they can take up less space.
For both cables and chains, you need a strong padlock. These can be operated by key or by a dial type combination. Key locks, in reality are less convenient than combinations because they require a certain amount of maintenance (lubrication) and people are prone to losing the keys! However, key operated locks do tend to be more secure than combination locks.
Shackle Locks ('D' or 'U' Locks)
Shackle locks usually consist of two parts, the mechanism housing and a U shaped round bar, the ends of which fasten into the mechanism housing.
Good Shackle locks are generally more expensive but are tend to offer the highest level of security.
They are solid and quite heavy but often come with a mounting bracket to fasten it to your bike whilst riding.
Shackle locks do not tend to be particularly large and as such you need to find something suitable to lock your bike to, eg either a bike rack/ stand or perhaps railings.
If you leave your bike at home in a shed or garage, install an anchor points on the wall or floor to give you something to fix your lock to. Too often bikes are stolen from sheds and garages because they're left unlocked.
Security Marking may not make it harder for a thief to steal your bike, but if its clearly visible, it may reduce the chance of it being taken. It will also greatly improve the chances of it being returned to you if it is recovered. For more information about security marking, you can contact your local police station. You should also keep photographs of your bike and a record of the frame number.
It well worth making sure that you have insurance cover for your bike. Bikes can be covered under your house contents insurance - but make sure its covered against being stolen away from home too!
If your bike is of a particularly high value, you may need separate insurance. Discounts may be available if certain levels of security are achieved and some providers even provide breakdown cover.
Secure Cycle Parking in Fife
In Fife, we provide parking facilities to meet the needs of local cyclists and tourists.
Where bikes will be parked regularly for short periods of time, we normally provide racks or stands. These are secure metal frames which you can fasten your bike to using either a cable or shackle lock. They are available at many of our offices, town centres and places of interest.
Where bikes are parked for longer periods of time and where quite often, there are less people around, we provide secure cycle lockers which are effectively large secure and weatherproof cabinets where you can leave both your bike and accessories. You must bring your own padlock and secure the locker door with that. We have provided cycle lockers at most Fife Rail Stations and they are provided at Fife Bus Stations.
Remember: As the majority of bicycle thefts are opportunist ones, it is essential that, no matter how long you leave your bike for, you take adequate precautions to ensure that your bike is still there when you return!