Advice

Like your Bike? Lock it up!

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All of this beautiful, sunny weather means that more people are going to be riding bikes to get around our cities. Who wants to cram on to a stinky bus or subway when you can cruise around freely on two wheels with the wind blowing in your hair? Biking is greener, healthier and typically faster than driving or taking public transportation. Just remember to take precautions when it comes to locking up your fixie, 10-speed or cruiser!

And I’m telling you this from personal experience. Throughout my life span, I have probably gotten at least 5 bikes stolen in various countries. A few of the times it was definitely my own fault, while others I can’t even figure out how someone could break such a big lock. Each time, however, I felt like I learned a huge lesson about protecting my belongings – but then a couple of years pass and, boom, my bike goes missing again. A couple of weeks, I was finally given a second chance when I somehow managed to get my bike back the same day it went missing…

For months, a whole bunch of people in my apartment building would just leave our bikes in the entryway, not locked to anything, just kept in a big pile next to the staircase. They seemed fairly safe, since one needed a key to get into two doors to where the bikes were. But there was a day when that cold SF wind was so strong that the second door kept blowing open all day, giving way to a perfect view of the bikes through the gate. For a bike thief, this job was a piece of cake. All they had to do was ring the buzzer until someone let them in the gate, and just walk right in and snatch up the unlocked bikes. I returned from work to find my bike and my roommate’s bike gone!

As you can imagine, I was pissed. I swear I had just questioned the safety of my bike as I walked up the stairs to my apartment the night before. Why didn’t I even lock the wheel to the frame so that someone wouldn’t be able to whisk it away easily? Anyways, if you are not down with wasting your money buying new bikes on Craigslist all the time, here are a few tips for NOT getting your bike stolen this Spring:

1)   Always lock your bike up (even if it is inside your building)

2)   Don’t leave your bike overnight in a sketchy area

3)   Use 2 locks (I recommend a Kryptonite and another long lock that goes through both of your wheels)

4)   Take off your detachable wheels and put them through a fat lock to avoid wheel theft

5)   Get a seat that doesn’t come off easily

6)   Take your lights with you when you lock up your bike

But, if your bike does happen to get stolen even after you have take all precautions, don’t be afraid to chase your bike down. Take my own advice and get your bike back! The same day my bike got stolen, I was walking down Fillmore St. and saw a whole bunch of thugs chillin’ on the corner two blocks away from my house. The closer I got, I saw that a huge man was just chilling on MY bike! WTF!!! I marched right over to him and demanded my bike back.

After a few minutes of negotiating, I ended up buying my own bike back for $40 dollars! My heart was racing and I couldn’t even believe that just happened. I rode my bike home and actually locked it up in the garage, where it should be. I got a lucky break this time – but for all of you other broke-asses out there – lock up your shit if you don’t want it to get stolen!

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Heidi Smith - The Ultimate Scavenger

Heidi Smith - The Ultimate Scavenger

Heidi works for a non-profit cultural exchange organization helping others experience life from a different perspective. She likes magnetizing the obscure and scavenging the city for fun, free things to do. She is a world traveler, a freelance writer and a spontaneous chef. She is also said to be part-mermaid.