Description: Bicycle theft is a huge problem, but you shouldn’t let it put you off cycling. If you follow these five steps, your bike will be as secure as possible.
Keywords: bike security, bike theft, students, cycling at university, bike locks, bike parks
Cycling is a great way to get about whilst at university. It’s free, eco-friendly and it keeps you fit whilst you’re studying. Plus, you never have to worry about missing the bus again.
However, there is a catch – bike theft is a huge problem in the UK.
An estimated half a million bikes are stolen in the UK every year, with less than 5% returned to their owner. Bicycles are an easy target for thieves, as stolen bikes can be easily sold online. The rise of the internet has seen bike crime double in the last decade – not good news for cyclists.
Despite that, there are plenty of steps you can take, which will greatly reduce your chances of becoming one of the million victims of bike theft each year. Not only can you reduce the chance of your bike being stolen, you can also increase the chance of it being recovered. Here are our five simple steps to ensuring your bike is safe and secure at university:
1. Register Your Bike
Firstly, register your bike with Bike Register. This means your bike will be registered in your name, making it easier for Police to identify and recover your bike, if stolen.
You should also take a photo of your bike and record the frame number (usually located underneath the bike, in between the pedals). As well as this, it is recommended that you mark your postcode on two different spots on your bike – one obvious place and one hidden place.
All of the above steps will help Police to identify your bike and can help you prove the bike is yours.
Just like any other expensive item, it’s a good idea to insure your bike. You can ensure it on your home insurance – as long as you get cover for theft away from home. Or, if your bike is really expensive, you might want to consider insuring your bicycle through a separate policy to cover theft and accidental damage.
3. Choose a Secure Lock
Although any kind of lock will deter a casual criminal, a cheap chain or wire lock can be easily cut through. If you really want your bike to be secure, you should choose a D-lock with a Gold ‘sold secure’ logo. In tests, these locks can withstand attack for the longest. If possible, you could also consider choosing a lock that is suitable for motorbikes, as these are the most secure.
For maximum security, combine a D-lock with a wire or chain lock like this. Here, you can see the bike is completely secure – with both wheels locked, so that they can't be stolen either.
While this may seem a costly option, it will save you money in the long-run and give you peace of mind. Be prepared to spend at least 10% of the value of your bike on lock/s – it's a worthwhile investment.
Buying a good quality lock is still much cheaper than driving or getting the bus – so just think of the money you are saving by pedaling yourself across town.
4. Find a Safe Place to Park Your Bike:
Whether you’re just popping in to return a book, or staying for the day, you should always lock your bike. It takes just a matter of seconds to steal a bike, so don’t get caught out.
Make sure you choose a secure place to park your bike – preferably the university bike park. But if you need to find a new place to park your bike, choose a well-lit, busy public space. If there are lots of people walking by, then few thieves will risk stealing your bike. Also, take a look and see which areas are covered by CCTV – this is a good deterrent.
Never lock your bike simply to itself with the logic that no one would be able to cycle it away – thieves will simply pick it up and put it the back of a van, and cut through the lock later.
Always ensure that you are locking your bike to an immovable object. One common mistake is to lock your bike to a chain link fence or small tree, as the bike can easily be cut out. There's no point having an expensive lock, if your bike is locked to something flimsy.
Wherever you park your bike, try to lock the bike so that it is held tight and rigid against whatever it's locked to. The harder it is to manoeuvre, the harder it will be for a thief to break or cut through the lock.
To give you an idea of potentially dangerous places to park your bike, this graphic shows techniques which are used by criminals to steal bikes.
You may think that your bike is safe at home, but more than half of all bike theft happens at the owner's home. You should always lock your bike – even if it's in your house, garden or shed. This is even more important if you live in a shared house or hall of residence.
Make sure you keep your bike out of view – ideally locked in a secure bike shed or hallway.
5. Secure Parts That Are Easy to Remove
While a good quality bike lock may secure most of your bike, there are still parts which can be stolen. For example, lights, bike pumps, wheels and saddle can be easily removed.
Get in to the habit of taking your lights and pump with you. If your saddle is easy to remove, it may be a good idea to take this with you too. If you have quick-release wheels, then you should try using two locks as mentioned above, so that both wheels are secure.
While cycling may be a ‘free’ form of transport, it can only stay cost-effective if your bike is secure. By taking these simple steps, you should be able to enjoy cycling to university throughout your student days.
If your bike is stolen, you must make sure to report the incident to the Police. But if you take all the necessary precautions, it will be very unlikely you'll have to make that call.