Monday 24 April 2017

Break the cycle: best ways to beat the scourge of bike theft

It might seem obvious, but investing in a really good lock will frustrate the efforts of the wheeler dealers, writes John Cradden

If you are among those who has given up on cycling after one bike theft too many, it's true that you can't always prevent it, but there is more you can do to throw a spanner in the works of a thief.

According to a Dublin Cycling Campaign survey, one in six don't replace their bikes after a theft, with a further 42pc stopping or reducing their cycling.

The huge rise in the number of folks cycling to work, particularly in Dublin, has inevitably seen a corresponding rise in bicycle theft, particularly since the introduction of the cycle to work tax scheme in 2009.

Garda figures showed the number of reported bike thefts in the city reached 5,000 in 2013, a rise of 100pc since 2003. But with only around one in three such thefts thought to be reported to gardai, the figure is likely to be closer to 15,000 or more, according to David Timoney, who heads the Dublin Cycling Campaign's Bike Theft group.

And when you count reported thefts outside Dublin, the figure was nearly 7,000 in 2014, according to the Gardai, so this is likely to be closer to 20,000 in reality.

A survey conducted by Dublin Cycling Campaign in 2014 found 66pc of thefts were from bikes with cable locks or "sub-standard locks".

But poorly designed bike racks, particularly in apartment blocks, are also a huge contributory factor to the number of thefts. "People just couldn't leave bikes at the racks in the basement as the racks offered no security," said Timoney. "That's why you see so many bikes on the balconies around Dublin."

As well as publicising better bike security awareness through a poster campaign, the group is working on producing a bike-parking guide for use by developers, architects and property management firms.

So, assuming you can find a place to secure the bike, what kind of lock should you go for? The main thing to look out for is an independent security mark called 'Sold Secure'.

"If you go into the shops you'll see the Sold Secure sticker on the better locks. They range from bronze to silver to gold. We recommend that cyclists get a minimum of silver and preferably gold.

"The Series 2 Kryptonite has a silver rating and is probably the most popular lock in Dublin. They cost about €50-55. We'd recommend a Gold Series lock, for example the New York Kryptonite. It is heavy but the holder, that you attach to your bike and that the lock fits into for carrying, means you don't notice the weight. They retail at about €110 but you can get them on Amazon for around €60. A very worthwhile investment."

Timoney himself had his bikes taken on average once a year but not since he invested in a New York Krytonite lock two years ago. Some experts advise using two locks, but Timoney says one good one is all you really need.

Other highly-rated bike lock brands include Abus, Squire, Knog and Hiplock, while there are a new breed of electronic locks, such as the solar-powered Skylock, which you can open with an app on your smartphone.

In terms of insurance, a bicycle will be covered on a home insurance contents policy if it is worth less than a certain amount, such as €500. If it is worth more than that, some firms will include it as a separate listed item, but this will increase your premium.

You can also get bicycle insurance for high-value bikes from specialist insurers like Bicycleinsurance.ie. However, among the conditions are that you must have owned your bike from new and that it is no more than three years old at the time you first take out the cover.

A two-year-old road bike worth €1,000 would cost you €85 a year, which includes cover for accidental damage as well as theft.

Irish Independent

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