It’s been a full year since I lost my bike to the mean streets of Melbourne. I’ll never forget the feeling of confusion that swept over me as I scanned the street for my bike. This feeling was soon replaced with blind rage as I noticed my cable lock on the ground. Cut in half. With no bike in sight.
Here are the 5 things I learnt from having my bike stolen.
1. I loved my crappy, second-hand mountain bike
I’ve never had an interest in cycling. I only got one to get me to-and- from work. That’s it. I bought the cheapest, second-hand mountain bike I could find. The first ride to work was a struggle. But it got easier each day. Soon I couldn't imagine going back to my old commute, on a crowded peak hour train. If you had asked me when I had the bike if I loved it I would've said no. The seat was uncomfortable. The paint, chipped and rusting. But in reality, I'd fallen in love with riding, and my beaten-up ride in turn.
2. You should protect the things you love, regardless of their monetary value.
It’s a common myth that aging, poor quality bikes don’t get stolen. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Owners of these bikes tend to have a more laissez-faire approach to security. As a result, they use low grade locks which make them more of a target.
I was one of these easy-come, easy-go bike owners. I figured it was silly to spend money on a quality lock to secure my dilapidated bike. But I made a common security mistake. I only took into account the monetary value of the bike, not its value to me. You should protect the things you love, regardless of their monetary value. We seem to forget this after childhood. That teddy bear you used to cling in a crowd for fear of losing could have been easily replaced - in monetary terms. But you loved this one. And protected it from harm.
3. Don’t park your bike in the same spot every day like a fool
We’re a predictable bunch, aren’t we? Unfortunately, our habitual nature makes the work of criminals a whole lot easier. Parking your bike in the same spot everyday lets a criminal do a bit of research before they make their move. What sort of lock do you use? How busy is the street? Do you move it over lunch? All this information helps a criminal decide how and when to launch their attack.
Do yourself a favour and mix up your parking spots. If you can, park in a dedicated bike rack, preferably among other bikes. If there aren't any bike racks around, park in well-lit area with busy pedestrian traffic.
4. Give the cable lock the flick and opt for a quality D-lock instead
Cable locks are a suitable choice for securing your bike in a shed or garage where the risk of theft is low. But once you’re out on the street, that cable lock you got at Kmart on the cheap, ain't gonna cut it.
There's a lot of information out there about the best way to lock down your bike when you're out-and-about. I'll leave the details to the experts, but to me, the one constant in all these articles seems to be the sturdy D-lock. It's tough, reliable and has a reputation for being hard to crack. This alone helps to deter the interest of a potential thief looking for something quick to grab.
5. Don’t let fear of theft keep you from enjoying the ride
I refused to by a bike for 10 months. "What's the point if it's going to get stolen?" I thought. But as Summer approached, my determination wavered. It was time to get back on the bike.
So once again, I bought myself a second-hand bike that has seen better days. This time, I'm taking more precautions to minimise the risk of theft. I've bought a D-lock and I try my best to park in different locations. And although the risk of theft will always be there, I'm trying not to focus on it. Life's to short to stress about what might happen. Do your best to protect what you love. After that, it's all about enjoying the ride.