A few weeks ago, whilst about to cross Westminster Bridge on my bicycle, I was approached by one of those community police types; you know the ones, they look a bit like a police officer but they are not really (I’m kidding, they are very hard working and are doing a job I would not want to do). I had just hopped onto the pavement onto what I thought was a cycle path, it was thankfully, when one of them starting walking towards me and gestured for me to approach him. Police have this wonderful way of stirring a guilty feeling inside me even when I know I have done nothing wrong. I checked the floor again to make sure it was a cycle path, relaxed slightly, and waited to see what he had to say. I wasn’t about to be hauled off to the cells, I was pleased to discover; instead they wanted to tell me about a new scheme that assists in the recovery of stolen bicycles called Bike Register.
I popped around the corner where a (real) policeman painted my bike with some invisible ink, took note of my frame number, and told me a bit more about the scheme. If, please no, my bike does get stolen and is recovered by the police, then they can scan the invisible number, check it against their records and hopefully get it back to me. Of course it is a big if that it is recovered, there are more than one blue Trek bikes in the world, but if it is recovered then I have a better chance of getting it back than without the scheme. Oh, did I mention that it was free, or at least the nice police man did not charge me anything.
This is all very good but you do not want to return to where you had left your bike a few hours earlier to find it is gone. This is very annoying and can be a major pain in the whatsit if you happen to be a long way from home. It is recommended that you always use a good sturdy bike lock. In fact it is recommended that you use two good sturdy bike locks. I have two different types of D-locks and one of those plastic coated flex cables for looping through the front and back wheels. Even this is probably not enough if someone is determined to take my bike but why make it any easier for them than is necessary. The little man who sold me my bike suggested that I spend at least 10% of the value of my bike on a lock and I have no reason not to believe him as he didn’t try to sell me one. Kryptonite locks seem to be the most popular and the most reliable in my experience but if anyone has any better suggestions then I would be happy to hear them (whilst researching locks I did come across a YouTube video on how to pick a kryptonite lock with a Bic pen, but it appears that this is old news and not possible with new Kryptonite locks; I hope).
Having only had one bike stolen in my lifetime I would say that I am luckier than a lot of cyclists out there who use their bikes regularly. I do remember how I felt when I returned to find my bike missing and do not want to repeat the feeling any time soon but we are not in complete control of these things unfortunately. I do get nervous leaving it somewhere that I am unfamiliar with and will often try to keep it within eyesight if I can. This is not always possible and you just have to trust your security arrangements or risk ruining your day out. Invest in a decent lock, register your bike with the police and get some insurance are some preventative measures.
According to the London Cycling Campaign website (this is a good website and well worth a look at), 21,770 bike thefts were reported to the Met Police in 2012. This is an enormous figure and just goes to show just how many bikes there are out there and just how many are capable of being stolen. This information just makes me more determined than ever to keep little bike that I have. I think my locks are in need of an upgrade though; much like myself.