It’s difficult to put into words the way your stomach drops when you go to grab your bike at the start of a long day and are greeted by a broken lock sans bike. It’s a little easier to describe the feeling of frustration felt when you realise that you’ll have to either pay for a bus or hike all the way onto campus: very, very frustrated.
With 3.2 billion miles covered via bicycle in the UK annually, cycling is clearly a popular mode of transport. And in case you hadn’t noticed all the cycle lanes, Brighton is no exception. Cycling is particularly popular among students for obvious reasons: it’s cheap, it burns off the booze calories, and you can take a juvenile sense of pride as you whizz past friends stuck on slow, cramped buses. Unfortunately, with 327,000 bicycles stolen in the UK each year, bike theft is also popular – arguably an epidemic. To help wrap your head around that figure, that means that a bike is stolen every 90 seconds. So, how can you battle bike theft?
One option is to not let the bike out of your sight – trust no one. At the end of the day, bring your bike inside the house. Brilliant. However, you can’t take your house and the safety it offers when you cycle away from it. And let’s be frank, having a few bikes blocking your corridor is likely to exacerbate the passive aggressive tension found in a student house. So, the majority of us have to go on in life locking bikes up in the big bad world. When doing so, it’s important to consider what you’re locking your bike up with, how you’re locking it, and where.
In terms of what you lock your bike up with, don’t skimp. Invest in a high quality, heavy chain. Although a more expensive option might seem like an inconvenience in the short term, it’s definitely worth it. Admittedly such chains can still be broken, but doing so would require larger tools and time periods which will deter the average thieving opportunist.
When it comes to how and where you lock your bike, there are some key guidelines. To begin with, pick a sturdy object to lock to – most obviously a bike rack. Then, make sure to lock your bike up via both its wheels and its frame. Although a would-be-thief could still take your bike, they would need a lot of time to get through all those barriers! In terms of where you should lock your bike, the best possible locations are those that are well lit, has CCTV, and has passive surveillance – actual people present who would witness the crime first-hand.
It might seem like a pessimistic point, but the next step is to prepare for the worst. In addition to taking out insurance, you can also register your bike with schemes such as Immobilise which help the police identify stolen bikes. To be even more helpful to a potential investigation, consider etching identifiable features such as your postcode or name onto the bike’s frame and taking photos of other distinctive features.
As you will have gathered, if someone really wants to take your bike and they have the time and tools to do so, you can’t really stop them. The only way to definitely outsmart the bike thieves is to not own a bike. This isn’t as dumb as it sounds – you can hire one instead! Over the summer, Brighton gained its very own bike hire scheme in the shape of the BTN BikeShare and its trusty Life Bikes. Similar to the famous London scheme, users can grab a bike from a hub and enjoy a worry-free ride for 3p a minute as an Easy Rider. Or, at £72 for an Annual Rider membership, which gets you up to 60 minutes of riding time everyday, the hire scheme is a carefree option, way cheaper than buying any decent bike! Download the Social Bicycle app to get riding.