Safe Parking, Part 3: Lock’n’Load (actually, just Lock)

(Ed. Note: You can check out Safe Parking: Part 1 & Part 2 right here)

Standard-U Rack 1

The glorious LADOT U-Rack

Bike safety is in the news again.  This time, it’s a local ABC report of a “brazen” bicycle thief at the downtown library (via Streetsblog LA’s excellent daily links post).  We can’t stress enough the importance to proper bicycle parking.  With that in mind, let’s proceed to our next segment of “Safe Parking”.

Lock It Up

So far, we’ve covered why you need to lock up your bike, what to lock it up with, and where you should be locking it.  But now that you’ve arrived at your destination (which has a great LADOT U-rack!), let’s make sure that your bike is properly secured.

How to lock

Well, clearly, you should start by making sure the frame of your bike is locked to your rack of choice(Ed. Note: duh!).

oh, right ... the frame was important too...

If you have wheels that come off easily -such as wheels with quick release levers- make sure to lock both your bike and wheels.  Quick release wheels are great because they are so useful.  It’s easy to get the wheel off when you need to change the inner-tube after getting a flat or if you want to fit your bike in the trunk of your buddy’s car when he graciously offers you a ride.  But those wheels are really easy for anyone else to slip off, too.

Example of Good Bike Parking 1

keep those quick release wheels safe

Make sure you lock both of your wheels to your frame when securing your frame to the rack.  It’s a good idea to carry two locks to make this process easier.  If you don’t have two locks, we’d recommend taking off one of your wheels and either locking to the other wheel or taking it with you.  When you use two locks, each one should have it’s own locking device.  While threading a cable through your U-lock might be more convenient, it’s not nearly as safe as another U-lock or chain that has its own locking device.

When using a U-lock, try to secure the bike frame and wheels in a way that leaves as little room as possible for a thief to place a crowbar.  Whenever possible, lock your bike to a LADOT U-Rack.  They’re the most consistent bike parking in the city and, unlike most other things you can lock your bike to, have been specifically designed for safe bike parking.

Don’t Just Walk Away
Don’t think you’re good to go once you’ve got your bike locked up properly.  Depending on what type of bike you have, thieves can salvage quite a bit from even the most securely locked bikes.  We can often forget the little things after a long ride.  Quick release seat posts, front and rear bike lights, bike computers, baskets, panniers, under-saddle bag, helmets and water bottles are all hard to secure and easy to remove.  Since the bike components are easy to get on and off, they are also easy targets for would be thieves.  Just toss them in your bag before you go and you won’t get burned.  You don’t want to ride home without a bicycle seat, trust me.

Don't end up like this guy

See and be Seen
Try to park in a location where your bike can be seen.  A good rule of thumb is: are other bikes parked there? Bike thieves don’t want to be seen, so park in areas with a lot of pedestrian traffic.  The more people around your bike, the better.  If you’re parking at night, try to park in a location that provides good, safe lighting.  If you can’t find anywhere you’re comfortable with, you can always ask store owners if you can bring in your bike.  The worst thing they can say is “no”, and piece of mind is worth the trouble of asking.

For more tips, plus some pretty hilarious photos, check out MassBike’s post on bike parking.

Coming Soon, Part 4!

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