Another adventure with my bike…

14Dec12

bike lock, jammed, theft, prevention

I had to break into my own bike today and it was a little too easy. I think I always knew it would be, but I had hoped that it would put up a little more resistance. I always use more than one lock on my bike. One more expensive one and admittedly one cheaper one. The cheaper being the above pictured combination lock that I use for securing my wheels. However, recently when I went back to open it – it had jammed and just refused to open. Pretty annoying at the time, as it left me walking home and consequently walking to work.

Admittedly I have never tried to cut open a bike lock before. So I did a quick Google searched and came to the conclusion that I would probably need bolt cutters at the very least to have a crack at it… which I don’t own. So I did a call-out on Facebook for some help and a friend offered to give it a go with two pretty basic hacksaws. I wasn’t too confident he would succeed, but he did, rather quickly!

So as it went… on a rainy Friday around 2pm, as lots of random people passed by going into the entrance of the busy public venue* where my office is based. With quite a few even openly standing watching as they smoked a cigarette, my friend cut open my lock for me. It took about 5 minutes.  I smiled at the people watching and kept on chatting to Peter as he cut away at my lock. But there was no public intervention, nobody tried to intervene at any point or even asked us what we were doing.  I am basing it on the fact that I guess I looked quite presentable and we were very open about what we were doing. But a little part of me had kind of hoped that someone might have at least questioned us, even out of curiosity. As that would have given me faith that if it hadn’t been my own bike and in fact someone else was trying to steal it – someone might have questioned it. I guess I am just a little too optimistic in this regard.

I don’t really like to advocate the ease of these things, and this is definitely not the point of the post, but realistically if you Google a number of terms relating to bike theft there are plenty of blatant displays of how-to. Plus I do think awareness in regards to the bicycle ownership is also important. This is because theory and practice are two very different things… As much as I know about the figures of bike theft, the reality of having had a bike stolen in the past, the confidence I had in having two locks. Actually trying to break into my own bike was incredibly eye-opening and I hope it will make me more aware of how I lock it up in the future. So I haven’t tried to attempt to break the more expensive lock – as I can’t really afford to replace it at the moment. But I am curious and would quite like to at some point.

However, Google is a good tool in itself and Gizmodo have kind of done it for me here.

Pretty good research for this £50,000 Nesta anti bike theft competition, which I wish I had spotted sooner. As I would like to draft up a few concepts, although I am realistic and probably not going to create a working prototype of a design that can beat bike theft within the next month.

I have since been reading a few bike theft related articles. The London Cyclist’s Guide to getting your bike stolen is a good tongue in cheek place to start, he also follows up with some handy prevention tips based on how to lock your bike and a pretty handy bike lock guide. The Guardian’s article title Five Ways Cyclists Can Help Police Tackle Bike Theft which is quite insightful into how the met are trying to tackle the staggering 22,467 bikes thefts reported in London each year, TFL basic but handy guide. I also quite like this Bikeoff website looks at who steals bikes, who are the victims, and ultimately some really interesting anti theft design concepts. Although of course perhaps the Baint Paint has already got the solution as this little article by Verda’s Corner displays.

So yes, a somewhat informative night in. I was supposed to be preparing myself for my friend’s wedding tomorrow, but I got a little caught up in writing this post. So now in the total opposite of this bike themed blog post… I am going to turn the computer off and do my nails!

*I had spoken to the reception staff to tell them what I was doing it and they know me and my bike.

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