Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

Dealing with bicycle security in urban areas when solo?

Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

Dealing with bicycle security in urban areas when solo?

Old 01-06-19, 02:10 PM
  #1  
spinnaker
Every day a winding road
Thread Starter
 
spinnaker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 6,245

Bikes: 2005 Cannondale SR500, 2008 Trek 7.3 FX, Jamis Aurora

Mentioned: 20 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3182 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Dealing with bicycle security in urban areas when solo?

Portland is supposed to be pretty much the bike theft capital of the country. On my first tour out of Portland I had a touring partner along. so I never had to leave the bike alone either locked or unlocked. On my second tour out of there I was solo but I pretty much was able to get out of the city before having to stop anywhere.

The rest of the tour I was pretty much out of the "high crime" areas. A couple of times I had a warmshowers host to be a guard. What I did was to try and find a place where when I ate lunch, I could see the bike even though it was locked. But still had to allow it to be out of sight when using the facilities. The one instance that worried me a bit was when I used the facilities at the train station in Eugene. I figured inside the station was safer than outside. But there was no place to lock the bike inside. So I left it unlocked just outside the men's room and took care of a nature's call as quickly as possible.

During a layover (train travel) in Chicago was lucky enough to sit near a very nice couple at the restaurant that not only offered to move so I could be near my bike but also offered to watch the bike while I grabbed something to eat.

So all in all I was pretty lucky at dealing with security. So other than a good lock and leaving the bike unattended for as little time as possible, how do you deal with bicycle security when traveling through an urban area know for bike theft? What do you do with your bags? I have a light weight lock that pretty much just protects from grab and go. Do you take your bags in with you when going to the facilities? Or just leave them and hope for the best?
spinnaker is offline  
Old 01-06-19, 02:48 PM
  #2  
mtbikerinpa
Shimano Certified
 
mtbikerinpa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: PA
Posts: 1,839

Bikes: 92 Giant Sedona ATX Custom

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 37 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
For bags I bring shoulder straps so that they can be carried easily. Always unclick accessories. I also only to to urban/risk areas with the sleeper bike. It has a subdued vintage beater look in spite of being on par with my race XC bike. If there are other bikes nearby a place the camoflage factor can help. Ironically the only bike that I have had stolen was from my low-risk back porch when I left it there while eating dinner. In that case at least the cops had it in custody before I noticed it was gone(an XL size frame being awkwardly ridden past the cop by 12 yr olds).
mtbikerinpa is offline  
Old 01-06-19, 03:03 PM
  #3  
CliffordK
Senior Member
 
CliffordK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Posts: 21,937
Mentioned: 156 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8052 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I've got a thin cable lock that I've started carrying.

For restroom breaks. In the "blue boxes", I just lean the bike up against the box... I assume I'll hear if anybody is messing with it, and I'll be out in a flash, shorts up or shorts down...

For many restrooms in parks, there is enough room to either pull the bike all the way into the restroom, or get at least the front end of the bike through the door.

In Eugene, the bike path system is about 1/2 mile from the train station. There is a small restroom in Skinner's Butte park, so I use the front wheel through the door trick. Two more slightly more isolated restrooms northbound every 1/2 mile or so.

On the other side of the river, is Alton Baker Park, with enough room to bring the bike inside.

As I was locking my bike at Universal Cycles in Portland, someone came outside to tell me to just bring it inside.

I've done a lot of shopping in Eugene/Springfield. A few lights have disappeared, but I haven't had anybody mess with my bags or bike trailer. I do lock up.

My setup varies for road trips. I often have a backpack which goes with me. I think I've removed panniers and put them in a shopping cart in the past.

My general rule is that if I can afford to lose it, then it stays with the bike.

If I can't afford to lose it, it comes with me.

One trip to Portland, I was getting ready to lock up at a convenience store in Salem when someone held the door open for me. It seemed like a good idea, so I just rolled the bike in (bike was clean).

There was a comment recently about bolting the bags to the rack. An interesting concept.
CliffordK is offline  
Old 01-06-19, 03:34 PM
  #4  
jefnvk
Senior Member
 
jefnvk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Metro Detroit/AA
Posts: 8,205

Bikes: 2016 Novara Mazama

Mentioned: 61 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3558 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I've been to a few areas that consider themselves "high theft" areas. In reality, and speaking in broad terms, crime is opportunistic and random, and I wouldn't really consider any urban area incredibly more or less prone to theft than any other. If I am really worried about theft, I use a step up in security from what the locals are using (i.e., if everyone has a cable lock, I have a U lock). Beyond that, be sensible in what you do.

As someone above mentioned, keep valuables on you. I prefer a handlebar bag with a quick release and a strap that I can quickly take off whenever I go into a shop or a toilet or restaurant. Keep my passport, money, camera, etc in there.
jefnvk is offline  
Old 01-06-19, 03:47 PM
  #5  
spinnaker
Every day a winding road
Thread Starter
 
spinnaker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 6,245

Bikes: 2005 Cannondale SR500, 2008 Trek 7.3 FX, Jamis Aurora

Mentioned: 20 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3182 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
I've been to a few areas that consider themselves "high theft" areas. In reality, and speaking in broad terms, crime is opportunistic and random, and I wouldn't really consider any urban area incredibly more or less prone to theft than any other. If I am really worried about theft, I use a step up in security from what the locals are using (i.e., if everyone has a cable lock, I have a U lock). Beyond that, be sensible in what you do.

As someone above mentioned, keep valuables on you. I prefer a handlebar bag with a quick release and a strap that I can quickly take off whenever I go into a shop or a toilet or restaurant. Keep my passport, money, camera, etc in there.
My handlebar bag goes with me everywhere. At a hostel (when I don't have a private room that locks) it goes into the shower with me.
spinnaker is offline  
Old 01-06-19, 04:20 PM
  #6  
CliffordK
Senior Member
 
CliffordK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Posts: 21,937
Mentioned: 156 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8052 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
I use a step up in security from what the locals are using (i.e., if everyone has a cable lock, I have a U lock). Beyond that, be sensible in what you do.
My Kryptonite NY doesn't go on road trips anymore. I have a place where I can leave one in Portland when I go up there. But.. no sense carrying a lock half the weight of my bike.

I do have a heavy cable lock that will slow at least a lot of people down.

My backpack is like my "purse", and goes with me everywhere, although I may re-arrange for the next tour. One pannier? Or like @spinnaker suggests, a handlebar bag.

I'm hoping to build an electrical system into a small dry box, and have to decide how I wish to deal with that on the road.
CliffordK is offline  
Old 01-06-19, 06:21 PM
  #7  
raybo
Bike touring webrarian
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 1,879

Bikes: I tour on a Waterford Adventurecycle. It is a fabulous touring bike.

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 45 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
When I am in big cities, I am either getting hosted, so I keep my bike with them, or at a hotel that will hold my bike. All my shopping is done before I get on the bike in the morning.

When I go shopping, my first thought is to find a place where I can see the bike. Often there are places inside the store where a bike can be stowed for a short time out of the way of others. Workers in the store who are bike riders occasionally offer to "keep an eye on it" for me. If I can't find a spot inside (managers can be touchy on allowing it), I try to find a secluded space where I can lock it. If possible, I shove behind a line of unused shopping carts and lock it. Once, I simply took my bike into the store with me and walked it up and down the aisles. In truth, a touring bike isn't all that wider than a shopping cart. I got funny looks but no one stopped me.

Going to the bathroom is tricky. I find most public toilets are big enough to take my bike into. Porta-pottys, I lean the bike on (lock it to it, if I am really worried) and try to be quick.

As for my panniers, I just leave them on the bike. While it would be a drag to lose them, there isn't much in there that couldn't be replaced fairly easily. If I was really concerned, I'd ziptie them to the rack. But, I have never done that.

I use a camelback, so all my valuables live on my back when I tour.

It is worth note that I rarely spend much time in big cities on my bike. I ride into and out of them, but once there my bike is usually safely stored somewhere out of sight.
raybo is offline  
Old 01-06-19, 10:13 PM
  #8  
redbagsrambler
Senior Member
 
redbagsrambler's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: East Carolina, USA
Posts: 80

Bikes: Trek 520, Bianchi Volpe and too many more to name

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 17 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Like others said, I keep anything of value in my handlebar bag with a detachable shoulder strap. This bag goes everywhere I go. I lock the bike either with a U-lock or a cable lock, though I use the cable lock more often now. I leave my panniers on the bike. Most of what is in my panniers is dirty clothes covering useful gear such as a small cookstove. If a thief wants to paw through my dirty underwear, then it serves him right. If I should feel concerned about security of the panniers themselves, I travel with a few long zip ties which I could use to further attach the pannier to the rack using a hard to get to loop in the middle of the back of the pannier. I figure an opportunistic thief isn't going to take the time to figure out what is holding the pannier to the rack and then pull out a knife to cut through it. Like you, most of my stops have the bicycle within view, and those without it in view are pretty short.
redbagsrambler is offline  
Old 01-06-19, 10:48 PM
  #9  
reppans
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: New England
Posts: 757

Bikes: Brompton M6R, Specialized Tricross Comp, Ellsworth Isis, Dahon Speed P8

Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 301 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I enjoy touring in urban and densely populated shoreline/resort areas - 100% comfort when wheeling everything inside with me.
reppans is offline  
Old 01-07-19, 08:45 AM
  #10  
HobbesOnTour
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Tilburg, NL
Posts: 159

Bikes: 90's Trek 800 Sport, setup for Fully Loaded Touring

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 84 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I've only toured in Europe and to date have not been too concerned about bike security for what I call short term parking.
I have a common as muck Trek MTB converted for touring that looks battered and bruised, so that's one point.
I travel fairly heavy so that's a deterrent to any opportunistic thief - if they want to try to cycle it away quickly, chances are they will get a shock.
I lock out the front and back brakes with elastic too.
I try to park the bike where I can see it if shopping/eating.
My valuables live on my handlebar bag and that goes everywhere with me.

If I'm camping in or near a large urban area I will be more careful and lock the bike to something. I have a homemade (not by me) lock of several layers of flexible steel that is difficult to break/cut with conventional bolt cutters.
This year I got an ExtraWheel trailer and carry a long cable lock for that.
HobbesOnTour is offline  
Old 01-08-19, 01:18 PM
  #11  
Rob_E
Senior Member
 
Rob_E's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 2,497

Bikes: Surly World Troller, Downtube 8H

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 222 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I usually carry a cable with a padlock. If I expect to be in some urban areas, I will either add my Abus folding lock, or my U-lock if I'm really concerned. In Cleveland, I tried to stay close to the bike, used the U-lock to secure it, and used the cable to secure the bags. Far from fool-proof, but it did the job. And I also have a handlebar bag with valuables that travels with me. Although, to be fair, if I were to loose my bike and luggage, that would probably cost more to replace than anything in my handlebar bag. I just assume someone cutting two locks and riding away on a fully-loaded bike is unlikely.
Rob_E is offline  
Old 01-08-19, 03:39 PM
  #12  
escii_35
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: PNW lifer
Posts: 550

Bikes: 2007 C-dale 63cm T series. My 1994 was a better design 1994 Bianchi 61cm El/OS Sachs 2004 Rodreguiz 26' UTB touring thing

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 37 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I've got a thin cable lock that I've started carrying.
If I can't afford to lose it, it comes with me.

.
As I was locking my bike at Universal Cycles in Portland, someone came outside to tell me to just bring it inside.
What the person above said x2.

Business in Eugene and Portland are rather friendly to heavily geared tourists when it comes to bringing your bike inside. They can tell the forigners vs local Flora and fauna.
escii_35 is offline  
Old 01-08-19, 03:52 PM
  #13  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 40,294

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 179 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6355 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
During the brief time I took to use the public bathroom, in Copenhagen , across from the Tivoli Park , someone starred stripping my bike locked to a fence
less than 10 meters from the bathroom door..

I had my Panniers left in the Hostel .. so I soon after checling on needing a visa * found a Baltic sea Ferry, and left for Poland after replacing the bolt ..

*thanks to all the Poles in Chicago I did not need a visa .. .. & Warsaw pact had just dissolved in march of that year.. with the breaking up of the Berlin Wall ..








....
fietsbob is offline  
Old 01-09-19, 05:54 AM
  #14  
andrewclaus
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Golden, CO, Scottsdale, AZ
Posts: 1,446

Bikes: 2016 Fuji Tread, 1983 Trek 620

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 195 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I don't own anything I would miss very much. If the bike and gear got stolen, my worst anxiety would be changing travel plans--and then the time needed to salvage another inexpensive kit. I don't neglect basic security--I carry a light cable lock, and keep things in sight or with me as much as possible. I also tour with only two rear bags, so it is easier to carry the gear, which is many times more valuable than the bike.

One extra item I carry is a Velcro strap to close a brake lever. It serves double duty, making the bike harder to quickly ride away, and making it more stable when leaned against something.
andrewclaus is offline  
Old 01-09-19, 07:37 AM
  #15  
Paul Barnard
For The Fun of It
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Louisissippi Coast
Posts: 3,670

Bikes: Lynskey Backroad, Litespeed T6, Lynskey MT29, Burley Duet

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 859 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by escii_35 View Post
What the person above said x2.

Business in Eugene and Portland are rather friendly to heavily geared tourists when it comes to bringing your bike inside. They can tell the forigners vs local Flora and fauna.
I wish more businesses were friendly like that. It strikes me as odd that a shopping cart or a double wide stroller is perfectly acceptable, but a bicycle is objectionable.
Paul Barnard is offline  
Old 01-09-19, 12:38 PM
  #16  
3speed
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 3,259
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 265 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
One thing I havenít seen mentioned - If thereís no place to lock and you need to use a porta poty or something, you can always still put your lock on the wheel and frame. That way no one can ride off woth your bike. If they want to try to carry and run off with a fully loaded touring bike, good luck... I would also say for many areas like Portland, the major bike theft isnít during the day. I think you could probably lock up with a crappy cable lock durring the day and leave the bike for hours(Iím Not saying to do that!) and be fine. Someone might steal your lights if theyíre quick release, but they arenít out cutting locks in broad daylight. As soon as it starts getting dark, thatís when the scumbags come out. Iíve spent time there and seen scumbags blatantly walking along carrying a bike with a missing front wheel in one hand(bad lock up) and an arm full of mismatched stolen wheels in the other, cargo pockets bulging, probably with stolen lights and bike theft tools. Itís infuriating.
3speed is offline  
Old 01-09-19, 02:37 PM
  #17  
spinnaker
Every day a winding road
Thread Starter
 
spinnaker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 6,245

Bikes: 2005 Cannondale SR500, 2008 Trek 7.3 FX, Jamis Aurora

Mentioned: 20 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3182 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
I wish more businesses were friendly like that. It strikes me as odd that a shopping cart or a double wide stroller is perfectly acceptable, but a bicycle is objectionable.
I have stopped at customer service and asked if I could leave the bike at the desk while I shop. Never been turned down. I also use those curbside kiosks that are growing in popularity now.
spinnaker is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.