Zach Hilton - Zach is a firefighter / paramedic with the Oakland Fire Department , a City of Gilroy councilmember , husband , dad , and avid biking enthusiast . Follow him at : zachhiltonca . blogspot . com
Keeping Your Bike Safe And Sound with Jordan Rosenfeld
The South Valley attracts bike riders from all over the state with its miles of picturesque roads and numerous bike paths . All those shiny bikes can also attract unwanted attention , however , from thieves hoping to get a free ride . When you take your bike out for errands or transportation , the last thing you want to worry about is whether your bike will still be there when you return . No matter how safe you think your bike is , or whether you ’ re parking it in what you consider a safe place each time , it ’ s better to be smart , and think about security in advance .
Where to Park ?
While there are some bike-friendly establishments that will let you bring your bike inside , to be safe , you should always try to lock up your bike to a bike rack that is located in a highly visible location with a lot of foot traffic , where it ’ s less likely to get stolen . Here are a few great options :
Most of our downtowns have a variety of public bike racks . Municipal racks are usually put there by the city , according to bicycleroots . com , and you will often find these outside city buildings , restaurants and grocery stores . The upside of municipal racks is that they ’ re often located in well-trafficked locations . The downside is that they often fill up fast . But if you can find one , be sure to lock your bike on the sidewalk side , rather than the street side , to avoid cars or trucks hitting your bike .
Street Signs and Bus Stop Poles
If there ’ s no bike rack in sight , try street signs and bus stop poles--these are sturdy and ubiquitous . Bicycleroots . com does warn that if you leave it somewhere too long , intrepid thieves can remove the top of the signs and slide the bike and lock up over the top of the pole , but if you ’ ve chosen a high-visibility location , that ’ s unlikely to happen .
School Bike Racks
Additionally , many elementary schools and middle schools have their bike parking located on the inside of the school campus , though many are outside , as well . If your school has a secure fence , then all you need is a simple cable lock to secure your bike to the rack . Even if it ’ s just a rack that you can lock your wheel into , go ahead with a cable lock . Having a combination lock for this is easiest for the little ones . If your school has bike racks outside then use the U-Bolt lock to secure your frame to the rack and run the cable through your wheels .
If you are planning on leaving your bike for more than two hours , then I highly suggest you find a bike locker to store your bike . You will find bike lockers for use at most transit stations , commercial developments , public parking lots , schools , and hotels . You may need a credit card to access a pay station . Or , for older locations , you will need to contact the management company to rent a bike locker out by key . Inside the lockers you will have space for your bike , helmet , clothes , and usually a place to hang your backpack .
What Kinds of Locks ?
When it comes to choosing the right lock for your bike , first consider the different types of bike locks :
U-Lock and Woven Steel Cable Bike Lock : A “ U ” shaped steel bike lock with a pull and drill-resistant key-lock cylinder is very hard to cut or break . Place the lock through the front frame , wheel and then bike rack . Insert the woven steel cable through your wheels and loop inside the bike like before you secure it .
Woven Steel Cable Bike Lock : Cable bike lock features a set-your-own-combination , four-digit combination lock . It provides a basic security level that is best used as a theft deterrent . This bike lock is made with braided steel for flexibility , and includes a protective vinyl coating that helps prevent scratching . Though these are difficult to cut , they can be , so it ’ s worth investing in the best one you can afford .
If you don ’ t know where to keep your bike lock , you can install a mount on your bike that holds these bike locks , or you can opt to carry them in your bag . A rack system allows you to secure a lock with a bungee cord . Additionally , a rack enables you to carry things , from grocery items to school books , and will make your trips much easier .
Some racks can handle weights of up to 50 lbs . You can find racks that fit in front of your handlebars and on the sides of your wheels . In some cases , for added security when your bike is locked up , some racks transform into bags you can remove and take with you .
Protect Your Bike in Other Ways
If your bike were to get stolen , police can identify it by the serial number , so write it down , photograph it , and keep receipts so that you can , hopefully , get your property back in the worst case scenario , according to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition . Renters ’ and homeowner ’ s insurance may also cover a theft , so long as you have proof of purchase and serial number written down .
Whatever option you choose for securing your bike , you ’ ll enjoy your outings that much more knowing your bike is safe and ready for your return trip home .
See you on the road .
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