- Get involved
Paranoia will save your bike
Wrapping up the Advocacy Team meeting Monday night, four of us walked around back of Danneman's to the bike rack. I had locked mine to a sign post out front, and, pointing to the rack, exclaimed, "I didn't know this was there!"
Mike, pointing to the rack, exclaimed, "My bike was there!"
Not half an hour earlier, someone snuck up and snipped his lock, pedaling off with Mike's bike.
We grow confident, sometimes overly so, easy to do when we are with other bicyclists in familiar areas. Don't judge: we all have done it, we all have slacked or been lax, and if you say, "No, not me!" you are a liar. The ABC has easy instructions for bike security (http://www.atlantabike.org/security). (I would add that the U should, if possible, go through the frame and rear, not front, wheel.) Here is my advice, though, which has served me well:
1. BE PARANOID.
Even if you are going inside for just a few minutes, even if you're with friends. Secure that sled as though the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were coming for it, one of their steeds having lamed and suddenly finding themselves in need of a substitute.
"Finally, we can continue our grand work ------ uh ------ wait. Wait, what the hell? This Fuji ain't budging. Ah, nerts, that's too bad, Pestilence, looks like you're out."
Someone once told me the longer it takes me to unlock my bike, the longer it will take an interloper.
2. If you arrive somewhere with friends and find you have left your U-lock behind, ask them to double-lock with yours. Bicyclists are smart and kind: they will almost certainly spring into action and find a way to do it securely.
3. Call the police immediately; however, don't say, "My bike has been stolen," say, as Mike did, "My vehicle has been stolen." Not only will it more likely generate a response other than, "Ah, nerts, that's too bad," it will reinforce to them that bikes are vehicles.
4. John Tackett's bike (a LeMond, I believe, John?) was stolen a few months ago. He filed a report. He later found the bike! He spotted it one Saturday at the Oakland City Market Place, 1149 Lee Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30310. HE GOT THE BIKE BACK! How did he prove it was his? Well, he...
5. Put a business card in the down tube, in case of theft. With a police witness, John removed the seat post, and PRESTO!
6. Let other bicyclists know: post it on Facebook, and ask friends to repost and be vigilant; contact the ABC; check Craigslist.
7. If you reach your destination, and find you have forgotten even your cable, bring your bike in the store or shop. Many will be receptive and understanding. If it is a big store, like Target, just walk it around with you. The only clue it isn't a Target bike will be that it stays together.
After Mike called the police, we all departed. I went north on Boulevard en route home, looking for Mike's bike (a 1980s green Cannondale with a front pannier), but I didn't see it. The folks at Cafe Circa checked their rear door camera and saw the guy, in a dark gray hoodie, cut the cable and pedal off. No further description. Bastard.
Part of bicycling's pleasure is its pace: slower; statelier; steadier than motor vehicles. Slow down your security, too. Make certain you have your lock(s) and care for your ride when you arrive. Rushing might even lead you, as it once did my friend, to U-lock your helmet to your frame, but miss the rack entirely.
Even if running late, take the time: secure it. We will wait, and when we are done, we will all have our wheels.