October 21, 2016

Assault the Thief's Senses

Any lock that's halfway convenient to carry can be compromised by a thief with the proper tools and sufficient time to wield them. Two current Indiegogo campaigns—Stingray and SkunkLock—offer cyclists extra security measures in the form of ear- and nose-assaulting deterrents, respectively.

Designed by electrical engineer (and three-time victim of bike theft) Obadiah Sheikh, Stingray combines a powerful front bike light with a motion sensor that triggers a 140-decibel alarm, an ear-splitting screech on par with a gunshot or a jet engine upon takeoff. While typical locks, if broken, "sit quietly and watch as a thief rides away with your bicycle and all onlookers assume nothing wrong," Stingray both deafens the would-be criminal and alerts bystanders to a crime-in-progress.

"The main problem with a stolen bike," says Sheikh, "is once the thief is around the first corner, nobody knows it’s a stolen bike." Watch the full pitch below:

SkunkLock, which bills itself as "the only lock that fights back," holds a surprise for thieves with power tools: pressurized within a hollow chamber running the length of the U-lock is an undisclosed cocktail of chemicals that "induce vomit in the majority of cases, and elicit an instinctive response to run away immediately."

While it will not deliver the "Death to Bike Thieves" my sticker advocates (or fulfill creator Daniel Idzkowski's desire for bikes to blow thieves' balls off), SkunkLock does promise to leave the would-be bike thief with eyes stinging, stomach churning, and clothes ruined. Not bad. Check it out:

October 10, 2016

Loaner Locks and Bait Bikes

In August 2015, nearly a bike a day was reported stolen on Vancouver's Granville Island. Thanks to Operation Rudy, however, August 2016 saw only a theft a week. 

A collaboration between Granville Island, Project 529, the City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Police Department, Better Environmentally Sound Transportation, and several Island businesses, Operation Rudy is "a multi-spoked approach that addresses easy bicycle storage and registration, cyclists’ security habits, theft deterrence, and physical site design."

Given the success of the initiative, other jurisdictions may want to consider implementing some of its components. The program 
  • offers bicycle valet service free of charge seven days a week (at least during the summer months);
  • encourages bike registration with 529 Garage;
  • makes loaner locks available to cyclists willing to leave a photo ID at one of the participating businesses;
  • uses bike rack signage to educate riders about proper locking technique;
  • employs bait bikes to catch thieves (six arrests this summer!); and
  • prompted the installation of bike parking structures in high-visibility (and thus safer) areas.
Heartened by this summer's decrease in Granville Island thefts, Vancouver officials are already hoping to take Operation Rudy to Olympic Village, another of the city's bike theft hotspots.