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big cities and theft

Old 06-18-15, 01:52 AM
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big cities and theft

is it a good idea to get a beater for big city commuting? I never leave them out at night. Im trying to figure out whether I should keep my beater, or ride my cross bike around for errands.
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Old 06-18-15, 02:27 AM
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How long will the bike be unattended? Secure at work?
I would use a good lock for short errands, but a beater for leaving all day in an unsecured location.
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Old 06-18-15, 02:43 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
How long will the bike be unattended? Secure at work?
I would use a good lock for short errands, but a beater for leaving all day in an unsecured location.
short errands mostly

that's asking for it. I will never do that
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Old 06-18-15, 02:50 AM
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get a beater but keep it well serviced and get a good lock for it

it's really liberating being able to shoot about the city, leaving your bike wherever you want, without having to constantly worry about it
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Old 06-18-15, 05:15 AM
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Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
is it a good idea to get a beater for big city commuting? I never leave them out at night. Im trying to figure out whether I should keep my beater, or ride my cross bike around for errands.
GET A HUFFY! I've had one for sale this past week on CL with like new tires and like new paint for $35! Had a note saying pedals included. No calls yet!

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Old 06-18-15, 05:58 AM
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My "beater" bike is an old Trek 7000 with a beat up frame, except that I put almost all new components (XT 10 speed!) and wheels on it so it rides well. Just from looking at it though you'd never know it. I still don't leave it locked up all day in an unsecured location, but I'm lucky in that my office has indoor bike parking.
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Old 06-18-15, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
is it a good idea to get a beater for big city commuting? I never leave them out at night. Im trying to figure out whether I should keep my beater, or ride my cross bike around for errands.
If you already HAVE a beater, which your post implies, I would certainly use it.

I wouldn't get a beater just for that purpose if I didn't already have one, though.

I would get a beater if I didn't already have one and needed to leave it parked outside for long periods of time, like outside a stadium at a game.

Fortunately my city now has a bike share program, so in addition to supporting that concept, I don't have to worry about my own bikes when I need to get somewhere by bike and stay there out of sight of that bike for a while, like at a Mariners or Seahawks game, as long as the bikeshare program has a station near enough to where I am going.
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Old 06-18-15, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by ShortLegCyclist View Post

Fortunately my city now has a bike share program, so in addition to supporting that concept, I don't have to worry about my own bikes when I need to get somewhere by bike and stay there out of sight of that bike for a while, like at a Mariners or Seahawks game, as long as the bikeshare program has a station near enough to where I am going.
This reminds me to start a membership with our area's own bike share program (Capital Bikeshare or "CaBi" as the locals call it). We have the Smithsonian Folklife Festival coming up - the Rackspotter online app shows a reasonable selection of bike racks on the National Mall, but it'd probably be a better idea to use the bike share to get there instead of taking my own bike and leaving it locked somewhere on the Mall all day. It's not a $3000 carbon frame road racer or anything like that, but it is the only bike I've got.

I've heard stories of CaBi stations running out of bikes, so there is a bit of risk there but we'll see.
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Old 06-18-15, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
is it a good idea to get a beater for big city commuting? I never leave them out at night. Im trying to figure out whether I should keep my beater, or ride my cross bike around for errands.
If it's mostly left outside for short errands, and locked quite well, then do as you wish, IMO. It would be sheer bad luck to be stolen like that, but not unheard of. If it needs to be out, exposed for any longer period of time I'm all about the beater. It really keeps your mind from thinking about the worst all day and forcing you to run out and check on the bike every hour.
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Old 06-18-15, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by GovernorSilver View Post
This reminds me to start a membership with our area's own bike share program (Capital Bikeshare or "CaBi" as the locals call it). We have the Smithsonian Folklife Festival coming up - the Rackspotter online app shows a reasonable selection of bike racks on the National Mall, but it'd probably be a better idea to use the bike share to get there instead of taking my own bike and leaving it locked somewhere on the Mall all day. It's not a $3000 carbon frame road racer or anything like that, but it is the only bike I've got.

I've heard stories of CaBi stations running out of bikes, so there is a bit of risk there but we'll see.
Actually, I would be hesitant. In DC, big events usually end up with "Dock-Blocking." When everyone takes a CaBi down to the event, and there's not enough space in the stations to drop the bike off. You then either have to carry the bike around with you and pay for the time, or drop it off way out of the way. They have started setting up corral services for big events and morning rush hours, so you may want to see if they plan on that for the festival. Honestly, you're fine locking up your bike downtown with a U-lock, especially during a daytime festival. There will probably be a thousand other bikes locked up in the area as well.
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Old 06-18-15, 11:41 AM
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I don't have a beater. I do not leave my bike out at night. And I have taken plenty of precautions to make my bike safe.

1. I use pinhead locks for both my seat and wheels to secure them
2. I use a u-lock, maybe 2 in some locations
3. I do use a cable to secure my seat or wheel, in addition to the u-lock

I aim to make my bike harder to steal than the one next to it!

I also look for secure bike parking: bike valet, bike lockers, bike rooms or watched locations.
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Old 06-18-15, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Matt144 View Post
Actually, I would be hesitant. In DC, big events usually end up with "Dock-Blocking." When everyone takes a CaBi down to the event, and there's not enough space in the stations to drop the bike off. You then either have to carry the bike around with you and pay for the time, or drop it off way out of the way. They have started setting up corral services for big events and morning rush hours, so you may want to see if they plan on that for the festival. Honestly, you're fine locking up your bike downtown with a U-lock, especially during a daytime festival. There will probably be a thousand other bikes locked up in the area as well.
Good point about the dock blocking issue. I'll probably go there by Metro/walking Friday and assess the bike rack situation (thousands of bikes might mean little leftover space for my bike), then ride in Sat/Sun, depending on my comfort level with the rack situation.
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Old 06-18-15, 12:26 PM
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It is less likely, but not unheard of for locked bikes to get stolen in front of a store. U-lock plus cable or chain.

Also consider paint damage from racks.

I am generally happy that my old Colnago has had years of hard wear rather than riding a bike I disliked all that time.
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Old 06-18-15, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
It is less likely, but not unheard of for locked bikes to get stolen in front of a store. U-lock plus cable or chain.

Also consider paint damage from racks.
Already scratched my bike from taking spills as a beginning cyclist, so not worried about paint damage.

Just heard of a U-lock being cut in 2 min. by a bolt-cutter. But it's the 2 min. to cut vs. 30 sec. or less for a chain that is the reason people use U-locks. If both are used, that's more time required to cut than either option alone. I used to have one of those steering wheel locks in my car, so I understand the game of making the effort of stealing just inconvenient enough for a thief to pick another target. To add to the list of worries is another cyclist locking his/her bike to yours by accident with his/her U-lock/chain.

Sometimes though I want to ride my own bike somewhere, and lock it up so I can shop for groceries or just buy a cold drink on a hot day. Risk is a part of life.

Last edited by GovernorSilver; 06-18-15 at 01:23 PM.
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Old 06-18-15, 01:34 PM
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If U-lock secures the cable, then just cut the U-lock.

Dual U-locks means twice as much to cut (to ride).

I would hope someone would notice a person working a lock over for 3 min in front of a store.
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Old 06-18-15, 01:50 PM
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While I'm new to this bike thing, I've noticed some odd ways people lock their bike. As I was loading my panniers with groceries, a woman pulled up and locked her bike to the next rack over with a chain. After she walked away to enter the grocery store, the bike fell over, stretching the chain so it hung just a couple of inches over the ground. No U-lock.

I do see more people though U-locking the bike to rack/sturdy something, and using the chain to lock the wheel to the frame, or take the front wheel off and lock it and the other wheel to the frame with the chain/cable. I have yet to see anyone putting their U-lock around the chain.
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Old 06-18-15, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
If U-lock secures the cable, then just cut the U-lock.

Dual U-locks means twice as much to cut (to ride).

I would hope someone would notice a person working a lock over for 3 min in front of a store.
The onlookers in this video pretty much didn't:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AdugFzCi24
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Old 06-18-15, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by ShortLegCyclist View Post
The onlookers in this video pretty much didn't:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AdugFzCi24
Whew!!!

No bike touring in London

Those were big bolt cutters on some of the locks. Plus damage to the bolt cutters.

I'm surprised they got through a U-lock with a hacksaw.

No alternatives offered in the clip I saw.
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Old 06-18-15, 08:00 PM
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I like the tracker idea from the video
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Old 06-18-15, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Whew!!!

No bike touring in London

Those were big bolt cutters on some of the locks. Plus damage to the bolt cutters.

I'm surprised they got through a U-lock with a hacksaw.

No alternatives offered in the clip I saw.
Yeah, i think the message was that there really is no alternative, but most cyclists know that if a bike thief wants your bike, there is nothing you can do to guarantee he won't get it, maybe short of chaining yourself to it 24/7. Most people's realistic goal, as sad as the concept is, is just to make your bike harder to steal than the next bike down.

The scariest thing about that video for me is how the guy could carry 42" bolt cutters right through busy streets, cut the lock and then ride off with the blot cutters sitting in plain view across the handlebars without anyone saying or doing anything.
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Old 06-18-15, 10:30 PM
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One day I went to the local Jerry's Building store and realized that I didn't have a lock. So, I asked someone at customer service if they'd watch my bike, and they said to just take the bike into the store. Wheeling it around really wasn't much different from a shopping cart.

I've seen people trying to break into cars using a coat hanger, and always thought the ones using a coat hanger and not a sledge were the legit owners.

A few years ago I did see a car botch a parallel parking job (making a mess of the car they were next to), then drive off. It was a cute little sports car that was mangled. So, I memorized the license plate and called campus security. Someone else had a description of the car. I assume they got snagged for Hit & Run.

In today's world, just about everyone has a cell phone and camera, so it wouldn't be surprising for a thief to be caught on camera... or have the police called. But the London film was just odd. Even people looking at the "thief" and casually walking on.
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Old 06-19-15, 11:09 AM
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if the big city you're referring to has a bike share program, i would do that and have that be your "cheap bike"

pros and cons: you have it always but have to renew which adds $$$ to your "beater" so first year $150, second year $150, third year $150 and so on...
if you buy a bike but it gets stolen in a month then you add $$$ to your "beater" so first bike $150, stolen - buy a second bike for $150 to replace it - for year one.

but if it doesn't get stolen, it's a free ride that pays for itself for sure.

in a big city i would do the bike share b/c you can combine transit rides and bike rides and don't have to worry about bringing the bike with you if you decide on transit. that said, a bike share dock isn't everywhere here in NYC yet so... :/ hard to say.

i use a cyclo cross bike and i have pitlocks for the wheels, stem and seat (similar to pinhead) and i use a NY Kryptonite lock. but i know b/c it's NYC, it's very possible i'll never see my bike when i lock it up outside.
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Old 06-20-15, 09:24 PM
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I'm still considering getting a membership with our area bikeshare, but there are some scenarios like that big festival where you're in danger of getting dock-blocked - the bike share is so popular here, everyone else and their grandparents will also have used bike share bikes and taken up all the docks. There's also the opposite problem of no bikes being available at the bike share station, again due to the popularity.

For those scenarios, I'd be fine with riding my own bike to said event and locking it up as best I could. Sure, something might happen despite my best precautions, but if the folks in my area are saying that dock-block is a greater risk than possible bike theft, I'll trust their experience.

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Old 06-21-15, 08:01 PM
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Theft and bike mode are very positively correlated. The more people cycling, the more likely your bike will be stolen.
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Old 06-22-15, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by spare_wheel View Post
Theft and bike mode are very positively correlated. The more people cycling, the more likely your bike will be stolen.
Or maybe it's just a function of crime percentage rather than like a correlation with increased bicycle population. I.e., if roughly 5-10% of bikes are stolen, then of course you would see very little bike theft in a town which only has 5 bike commuters relative to a big city which has a much larger population. However, the percentage of theft, and thus likelihood, would remain the same.
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