February 28, 2014

Anti-seismic (and Anti-theft) Bike Parking

Why is all the coolest bike infrastructure always elsewhere? I'm thrilled about the bikeshare programs sprouting up everywhere from Denver to Miami Beach to the Big Apple, but I want a Hovenring, damn it. Or an anti-seismic underground bicycle park like the ones currently in operation across Japan. (I'm amused that Time clarified "anti-seismic" as "code for earth-quake resistant." Seems like a reasonably transparent term to me...)
Each of Giken Ltd.'s ECO Cycles stores upwards of 200 bicycles below street level, away from both the elements and potential thieves. What I like best about the video below is the bit about the research Giken did to figure out how to squeeze as many bikes as possible into the available real estate (without compromising the automated removal of the stowed cycles, of course). It reminds me of the sorts of packing problems mathematicians ponder—except with a practical application that I can immediately grasp.

February 21, 2014

Faithful, Ride-along Bike Security

This short post is a follow-up of sorts to February 7th's "Get Yourself a 'Killer Wolf Dog'." Here's a guy who does appear to rely on a canine companion for his bike security needs:

More cute than scary, though. Has Fido been trained to bite the hand off anyone other than his owner who tries to make off with the bike?

February 18, 2014

XKCD on the Frequency of Bike Theft

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, over my morning bowl of oatmeal, I check out the latest installment of xkcd, a self-proclaimed "webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language." Bike theft may not have cracked the top-four list of most treated topics, but it did make an appearance in yesterday's offering.

Titled "Frequency," the comic features a 10 by 5 grid of words and phrases flashing according to how often the events they describe occur. It's mesmerizing to watch, and interesting if you fancy, say, a visual representation of the relative frequency of earthquakes of magnitudes 1, 2, 3, and 4 or care how the pace of car production in the United States compares to that in China or Germany or Japan.

Now I have no idea how Randall Monroe came up with the numbers he used to create the graphic or, therefore, how much stock to put in them. According to the hover-over explanation, the "comic shows estimated average frequency." For whatever it's worth, Monroe estimated the frequency of bike theft at one bike every 25 seconds.

That's the reading I got, anyway, when I took a break from contemplating cat adoption and bottle recycling and domain registration and sex in North Dakota (!) long enough to put a stopwatch on the time lapse between flashes of "SOMEONE STEALS A BICYCLE"...

February 15, 2014

"If we do nothing at all, then we are all to blame"

If, heaven forbid, I ever get another bike stolen, I want the theft to occur in Austin, Texas. That way I'll be able to enlist the Sith Lord Vader Squadron to help me get it back. According to the group's open Facebook page, the mission of the S.L.V.S. is "to protect every cycle and cyclist from the grasps of the worse people on earth- BIKE THIEVES."

If your bike is stolen in Austin, you post a photo of it on the S.L.V.S. Facebook page, and members of the squadron will try to track it down on one of their weekly recovery rides.

"We use internet tools, logic and word of mouth to locate, recover and make sure the individual(s) in question gets the consequences they deserve (of course legally) to the highest extent," the Facebook page explains.

As the group's founder and president Michael Johnson told Austin's KXAN News, the Sith Lord Vader Squadron recovered 47 bikes in 2013:

Want to know more about the S.L.V.S.? Moving to Austin and wondering how you can join? Check out the Austin Post's story "Two Wheeled Justice: On Patrol with Austin's Bike Vigilantes."

February 12, 2014

"It's not mine but I don't care"

When Ben Davis's wife's bike was stolen from inside the couple's locked garage, Davis added snarky onscreen commentary and a soundtrack—Freezepop's "Bike Thief"—to the security camera footage and posted the result on YouTube:


Davis composed "this little homage to the uselessness of surveillance cameras" to make his wife laugh, he said.

You can read the full story here, but this is how it ends: Based on a tip from a neighbor who watched the video, Davis was able to track down the thief—dressed exactly as in the footage, despite the three weeks that had elapsed—and turn him over to police. The 51-year-old culprit was subsequently sentenced to eight years in prison.

[Anyone know of any other bike theft songs??]

February 7, 2014

Get Yourself a "Killer Wolf Dog"

I can think of two things people commonly leave chained (or tied—somehow affixed to something immobile) outside restaurants and convenience stores: bikes and dogs. Maybe anyone who owns one of each should consider using the latter to protect the former? (Assuming the pooch is sufficiently threatening, that is.)

As Mtbr reported on January 23, thieves recently relieved Santa Cruz Bicycles of $100,000 worth of high-end carbon demo bikes, cutting a chain link fence and dismantling padlocks to do so.

Apparently Mtbr's account of the theft got folks in the beach town of Santa Cruz riled and ready to assist in recovering the stolen property—or in exacting revenge against the thieves.

Mtbr quoted Santa Cruz Bicycles Media and Communications Manager Scott Turner: "Seems nothing brings a community together more than the prospect of some good-old fashioned vigilante justice, though we don’t condone that at all."

The same Mtbr post included a picture of a napping and very non-intimidating looking husky with this caption: "Santa Cruz has coaxed killer wolf dog Tag Heuer out of retirement to keep future would-be thieves at bay."

Now I can't swear to the seriousness of this threat, but enlisting a guard dog to frighten off thieves might not be a bad idea. I'd throw my bolt cutters back into my bag pretty quickly if withdrawing them had sent a sizable canine snarling fang-faced in my direction...

February 4, 2014

"The licorice lock was my first mistake."

Despite its allusion to Lifehacker's deservedly harsh characterization of cable locks, the title of this post is not my favorite line from Kashmir Hill's piece in Forbes last week about recovering a bike that was stolen from her. That designation belongs to this charmer:
It’s hard to describe the feeling of seeing your stolen property listed for sale; it’s perhaps comparable to watching your significant other make out with a stranger.
Granted I've yet to spot an ad for my onetime Cannondale (or, for that matter, observe a boyfriend lock lips with someone else), but I imagine that with the above comparison Hill pretty handily captures the cocktail of emotions I'd experience if I did.

Hill's piece, "I Did Everything Wrong But Still Got My Stolen Bike Back," enumerates the mistakes the Forbes staffer made immediately before and after the Trek she was borrowing from her landlord got stolen from San Francisco's Kearney Street:
  1. She locked the bike using only a flimsy cable lock.
  2. She left this insufficiently secured ride in a neighborhood plagued by bike theft.
  3. She alerted the Craigslist seller that she was onto him/her.
  4. She didn't have the bike's serial number.
Hill told her story so that others might learn from her experience. One of her recommendations I followed ASAP:
If you’re a bike owner, I encourage you now to take a photo of your bike’s serial number and email it to yourself.
Read and learn, people, read and learn.