Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips
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Parking, Locks & Security
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PARKING, LOCKS AND SECURITY
Many employers show no hesitation about creating enormous parking lots, at a cost of $15-25,000 per space, for their workers' cars. It's amazing -- and sad -- that these same employers vigorously resist creating bike parking areas. One automobile space could be converted to create parking for 10-12 bicycles.
Many municipalities, state governments or air district agencies are now providing funding to support additional bike parking. But until Corporate America gets more enlightened, the responsibility for finding a place to store your bike during the workday will be yours. Again, with a little ingenuity, it's not too hard. Perhaps your office is big enough for you to leave your bike in a corner. Maybe there's a nearby closet or storage area with available space. But, then again, many office buildings won't even let you bring a bike in at all.
Leaving your bike outside is riskier but not impossible, provided you know how to secure it. More than half of the one million bikes stolen every year weren't locked. Duh. Always, always have a good lock with you. Most days I use a combination of a Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 LS Bicycle U-Lock with a heavy OnGuard Beast Chain Lock. I use these heavy locks for my everyday commuting bike, as I describe on my blog. I also have other locks for lighter riding in less risky areas, including a heavy chain, an armored cable lock, and several cable locks, which I often combine depending on the situation. Find a solid object, a street sign or post. (I see many cyclists in San Francisco who lock up to small trees, which is stupid. Besides possible damage to the tree, a thief could easily cut it down to remove the bike.)
Locking your bike is a lot like the two guys camping in the woods. It's getting late, the campfire is dying down, and one of them starts putting on running shoes. "Why are you doing that," the other one asks. "In case of bears," replies the sneaker-clad camper. "That's crazy, you can't outrun a bear," says the other. The one in running shoes replies: "I don't have to. I just have to outrun you."
The reality is that no lock is 100 percent secure. A determined "pro" will find a way to break any lock. Concentrate on making your bike more difficult to steal than the other bikes around it. "Out run the bear," so to speak. Two, three or four locks raise the theft threshold. Perhaps the culprit has the tools to cut a cable, but not the tools to break a U-lock, or vice-versa. Lock it in a well-lit area with lots of pedestrian traffic.
You may be fortunate enough to live in a community with some bicycle planning professionals on the Department of Public Works payroll. You might inquire at the DPW about the availability of bike parking in your town. (At the least, it's always helpful for these agencies to be alerted to the desire for improved bike facilities.) Many employers, transit agencies, or local governments provide bike lockers, basically a large metal box. Many communities are even developing dedicated "bike stations" serving commuting bicyclists.
With a little consideration, perhaps even an inquiry or two among other bicyclists, you should be able to find a suitable place to leave your bike during the workday.
Bike thief tells how to stop your cycle from being stolen, The Guardian
Avoiding the Bicycle Thief: The best locks to protect your wheels, Slate
Need to protect your bike in S.F.? The lock is key, San Francisco Chronicle
Bike theft threat real, preventable, Bike Commute Tips Blog
It's 5 p.m., do you know where your bike is? , Bike Commute Tips Blog
The "Always Outdoors" bike , Bike Commute Tips Blog
Theft Prevention, produced by San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
Urban Bikers' Tricks & Tips: Low-Tech & No-Tech Ways to Find, Ride, & Keep a Bicycle
"Those who wish to control their own lives and move beyond existence as mere clients and consumers--those people ride a bike."-- Wolfgang Sachs, For Love of the Automobile (UC Press, 1992)