Five ways to save your bike from theft on campus

Lessons to prevent bike theft from someone who just had their bike stolen.

When you truly love, you not only appreciate the good traits, but you also you find the imperfections and idiosyncrasies as perfections — as beautiful. Even though the the gears on my bike didn't shift perfectly and it didn't fit my towering 6-foot frame like it should have, I loved it all the same. 

That beloved bicycle was recently stolen on campus, and now I have to walk everywhere. Travesty, I know. But in all seriousness, I never knew how much I hated walking until I got a bike. Dealing with this, I’ve learned along the way that there are steps I could have implemented to prevent my bike from being taken, and there are ways I could have been more prepared to deal with the after-effects of the theft itself. 

Five ways to help your future bike-riding self:

Invest in a U-lock

As a proud bike owner, I had the foresight to lock my bike up, but I had a measly cable lock on it. If you really want to prevent your bike from being stolen, then your best bet is to spend the extra cash on a U-lock. They might not be as versatile (or as cheap) as a cable lock, but it’s worth the inconvenience if it means keeping your bike on the rack. 

Bring your bike inside at night

I easily could have brought my bike inside every night, and if I did, then I'd still be riding my bike around campus today (and not walking). It’s more work to drag your bike inside and let’s face it — as college students, we’re already cramped for space — but if and when possible, bringing your bike inside ensures that it’s not taken overnight.

Be wary of damages or missing parts

We've all seen the lonely bike parts scattered across campus — remnants of what was once a happy, healthy bike-rider relationship. A classic scheme for bike thieves is to take your wheel, steal your seat or puncture your tires during the day banking on you leaving your bike there overnight so they can come back later and take it. If any of these things had happened to me, I know that I would have just left my bike for the night. If this happens to you, then the best bet is to bear with walking your bike back.

Choose where you lock your bike carefully

Because of my newfound disdain of walking, every time I went to lock my bike, the only thing going through my head was “How close can I park this to the door?” In hindsight, my priority should have been safety. The two main considerations are protection and visibility. If your bike is in a hard to find location then it makes it more difficult for a thief to find, but the lack of visibility makes the steal an easier process. According to a former bike thief, the best place to leave your bike to keep it from getting stolen is where there will be people around.

Keep a file on your bike

After this whole ordeal, I would recommend everyone keep a file on his or her bike. Like the rest of my life, I was able to succeed in completing the bare minimum requirement — having a picture of my bike — but I failed to record the serial number, keep a purchase receipt or register it. By taking a few minutes to secure these, you'll be best prepared to deal with a bike theft in your life. 

I was going to write a 6th point on how to cope with losing your bike, but unfortunately that is an issue I have yet to come to terms with myself.

Ultimately, whether or not your bike is stolen is less up to you than it is thieves, but there are preventative measures you can take to give yourself the best chance of keeping your bike in your life. Luckily for me, I have a renters insurance policy that will cover the cost of bike replacement. Still though, I wish I had taken the time to learn these bike safety practices from the start. If that had been the case, it's very possible I wouldn't have had to deal with walking, or the separation anxiety from losing my one and only bike.


Reach the columnist at bjking6@asu.edu or follow @benkingaz on Twitter.

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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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