September 30, 2016

U-locks Are Targets Now

Bike security is an arms race: As riders employ sturdier locks, would-be thieves wield more powerful tools or devise sneakier attacks.

Consider the Bay Area. For years, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has mounted a public information campaign aimed at getting cyclists to swap their cable locks for more secure U-locks. And BART bike thefts have declined, 28 percent between 2014 and 2015, and another 22 percent in the first seven months of 2016. Bike East Bay's outreach coordinator Robert Prinz told the East Bay Times he attributes this decrease not only to BART's installation of bike lockers and encouragement of bike valet parking, but to its pro-U-lock message.

But now that the low-hanging cabled-locked fruit is more rare, thieves are increasingly targeting U-locks. Analysis by the East Bay Times of bikes reported stolen in the first three months of 2016 showed that, where the type of lock was mentioned, approximately 45 percent of thefts involved a cable lock, while around 38 percent involved U-locks. Sentences like this one from the East Bay Times's story strike fear in the heart of any bike lover: "In at least one case, the cyclist secured the bike with two Kryptonite U-locks—among the most expensive around—and a Kryptonite-brand chain, only to find the bike missing." Is no configuration of locks safe??

BART is considering upping its theft-prevention game with the installation of a new kind of bike rack, called Bikeep. Check out the next security measure thieves will be figuring out how to foil:

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