Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sacrificial Lambs

What is it with people who ride nice bikes to work yet have no clue how to lock them up?

I'm not going to reveal where I work or offer photographic evidence that might tip off a dishonest reader (not like I have any of those, of course), but my bike rack is on the ground floor of a parking garage that's visible and accessible to anyone who walks by on the sidewalk. Despite that, today's count included a couple fairly new Trek roadies (maybe worth $1k each?) "secured" by those flimsy four-number combination cables that are about as strong as dry-rotted twine. I think the Twine-Lok was only running through one wheel on one (not even the frame!), so it wouldn't have taken a very astute thief to walk off one wheel short of a new bike. I think the other Trek had an unsecured wheel, so maybe he could have done some mix-and-match to get something rideable.

The real winner, though, was a fairly new Giant roadie (probably another $1k ride) that featured the same Twine-Lok coiled around the stem. That's right: The bike was locked to NOTHING. Sure, this is Iowa, and there's a security camera somewhere around the rack (watched at all times by our eagle-eyed security staff, no doubt), but c'mon! Are you that dense, or are you running the world's most obvious insurance scam?

Even assuming you run that little cable through both wheels and the frame, it wouldn't take a particularly dedicated thief to leave you bikeless. I'm the furthest thing from a bike thief, but even I have more than one otherwise-innocent tool in my garage that would get through that cable like a Ginsu knife through a sausage link. And those four-digit combo locks? In my experience, most people leave the sticker with the combination still stuck on the thing (do these people leave their house key hanging in the door when they go on vacation too?), and even if you don't, those locks have a "tell" so easy that it doesn't take much to open one (guess how we used to entertain ourselves in the bike shop over the winter?)

Okay, so I'm being a little harsh. Those little locks do have their place. They're light, easy to pack, and they will serve as a temporary deterrent in a low-crime area (yes, like Iowa) if you're just running into a store. I keep one coiled up (with its combination sticker removed, thank you) in my saddlebag for just such a purpose. But if you're leaving a commuter bike sit outside for eight hours a day, pack the heavy artillery and learn how to use it.

Except for you guys with the Treks and the Giant, of course. After all, you're making my bike look like a pretty hard target by comparison. Hey, natural selection applies everywhere, even in the bike rack.


john said...

Ahhh....the cafe lock! Just good enough to run into the coffee shop whilst looking awesome. I should send you the survey I received via email from the company that shall not be named.

Anonymous said...

I took a photo of one where I work of a Ulock around the fork leg and the rack. All it would take was a quick-release and the thief could have the entire bike, sans the lock.