How to Lock Your Bike
More than 1.5 million bicycles are stolen each year across the country. Bike theft is a problem in Minneapolis, and police report that there's no rhyme or reason to the types of bikes that get stolen or the to the thieves. Bike theft is proof of the maxim that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Properly locking your bike is essential to ensuring that someone doesn't walk off with it. It's not complicated, but it's important to have the right equipment and lock correctly to sturdy infrastructure every time. Check out these helpful tips:
- Use a U-Lock. University of Minnesota Police estimate that more than 90 percent of bikes reported stolen were locked with cable locks. A U-Lock is costlier than a cable, but it's much cheaper than a new bike. Get a quality U-Lock at one of our local bike shops.
- Lock to Appropriate Infrastructure. In Minneapolis, you can lock your to bike racks and street poles. Do not lock your bike anywhere else (i.e. street lamps, garbage cans, trees, benches, hand railings). If a bike is locked illegally, the City has the right to place a warning on the bicycle for 24 hours and then impound the bicycle. Here is a graphic (pdf) showing where you can legally park in Minneapolis.
- Lock Properly. A bicycle is made up of various components attached to a frame. If you are worried about parts of the bike being removed, you need to make sure that all components are secured. Here are some options:
- Purchase tamper-proof bolts for your wheels and seat post. Many bike shops sell bolts that will replace the quick-release attachments that secure many wheels and seat posts (What's a Quick Release?). These range in price, but even the cheapest option will be harder for a thief to access than a simple quick-release bolt (picture of a simple seat post bolt). Once your wheels and seat post are secured, all you need to do is use a U-Lock to lock the frame to a bike rack or street pole (see above, right-most picture).
- Lock your frame and front wheel. This is better than locking the frame only, but it leaves your rear wheel exposed if it is not secured with a tamper-proof bolt. FYI, a rear wheel is generally the most expensive part of a bicycle (see above, center picture).
- Remove your front wheel and lock it with the rear wheel and frame. This sounds harder than it is. Release the quick release on your front wheel and remove the wheel from the front fork (you may have to loosen the brake to do this). Place the wheel next to the rear wheel, and use the U-Lock to thread around the rim of both wheels, through the rear triangle of the bike and around a bike rack or street pole. With a little practice, you'll find you can do this in a few seconds (see above, left-most picture).
- Get a "leash" for your seat. These are small cables that provide a little extra security for a seat post - find them at local bike shops.
- Remove easily-detachable items from your bike. This includes things like handlebar-mounted bike lights and cycle-computers.
Record and Save a Description of Your Bike. If a bike is stolen, having a good description may be key to getting it back. Take some pictures of your bike. Record the serial number (located on the bottom of the bike, where the pedals attach) and any unique markings on the bike. Also consider registering your bicycle with the City of Minneapolis Bicycle Registration database. Registering your bicycle greatly increases the likelyhood it will be returned to you if recovered.
Secure Your Bike at Home. More bikes are stolen from home than from any other location. Lock your bike, or keep it behind locked doors.
Last updated May. 20, 2013