Don’t become another Bike Month statistic

Bikes are stolen at an average of one per hour every day throughout the year in Seattle.  But, obviously, bikes are stolen at different rates depending on the time of day and month of the year.

Summer time is worst.  More people are riding, so more bikes are available to be stolen.  In 2015, more bikes were reported as stolen in May — Bike Month — than any other month.


An average of 6.1 bikes were reported as stolen each day of Bike Month 2015.  If the national underreporting holds true for Seattle, that’d mean 36 bikes each day were lifted.

So, don’t become one of the 2016 Bike Month statistics. Here’s what you can do:

1. Register your bike

Before you do your next bike commute or recreational ride, take a few pictures of your bike and register your bike for free on both Bike Index and Project 529.  While registering your bike won’t prevent your bike from stolen, you need to do this before you ride your bike someplace and put it at risk of being stolen.  If your bike is stolen, your odds of getting it back are dramatically improved with a complete and accurate description of your bike and a community-powered team of theft recovery experts who power and follow Bike Index and Project 529. So do it.

LockedBikeGuide2. Lock your bike correctly

This past Saturday, we saw too many bikes improperly locked around Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood — people who had used locks but not actually locked their bike to anything.

Stealing bikes is a terrible thing for people to do. But in a city where bike theft is rampant, you must at least make a good faith attempt at locking your bike.

We recommend, at a minimum, locking your bike with a U-lock around your front wheel and frame, secured to a bike rack or other post firmly attached to the ground that can’t be unbolted.

If you are locking to a bike rack with a middle horizontal rail, make sure you lock to the vertical post above the middle rail. These racks are installed to be unbolted from the ground easily but designed to keep the bike locked to the rack if you lock above the middle rail.

Some people prefer locking their back wheel and frame because the back wheel is usually worth more than the front wheel.  That makes sense to us, although based on personal experience we also like the added benefit of locking the front wheel so the handlebars and front wheel aren’t wobbling around, potentially damaging your bike or someone else’s bike.

Seriously consider locking both wheels, especially if you leave your bike outside at night.  Some people recommend using a combination of a U-lock and a cable lock to lock both wheels as this method requires the thief to use at least two different tools to steal a bike (a lever or hydraulic jack for the U-lock and a cable cutter for the cable).  However, as one couple learned this weekend, that might mean you save your frame and one wheel, but still get one wheel stolen. So, whether you use one U-lock and a cable or two U-locks is up to you.

Finally, remove or lock-down your accessories.  Headlights, taillights, tool bags, and water bottles are easy for thieves to snatch.  And saddles like a Brooks leather seat are very easy to steal with an Allen-wrench.  You can buy low-cost, small cables that help lock-down your seats, and I can personally attest that the cables have helped save my Brooks leather saddle at least once (because I’ve seen the wire cut marks in the cable).

Secured Common Spaces

Be careful about where you park your bike.  Just because your bike is in a locked apartment building or bike cage does not mean it’s safe.  If your bike is in a “secured” common space, you still should lock-up your bike as thieves can sometimes slip-in behind someone with keyed access. Again, I can personally attest to this.

While on Rides

When on a ride, you will inevitably want to take a pit stop. Whether its a ten-minute stop at an ice cream stand or a two-hour stop for a beer and a burger, you will need to lock-up your bike.  Preventing your bike from being stolen is well-worth the added weight of carrying a lock.  Again, I can personally attest to this.  Even if it’s merely a small cable lock, carry one.  Plus, you’ll become quick friends with anyone on the ride who doesn’t carry a lock.

Best wishes to you during Bike Month. With a little added vigilance, you won’t become a Bike Month statistic and will still have your bike to ride for the rest of the year.


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