My stepdaughter has been living in Washington, DC (within the District itself) for the past 18 months. Only recently (since August) did she start using bicycles to get to and from METRO stations during her commute. In those two months, both of her bicycles have been stolen.
The first was my used Citizen folding urban commuter bike, which was stolen from under her front porch within a fenced yard. In this case, it was not locked which was a mistake. The second, a replacement bought from Wal-Mart, was stolen this from its secured and locked location at a METRO station in full view of security cameras. Not only had this bike be locked with a fob, but a U lock as well. It was one of a group of ten bikes stolen together. Needless to say, this took some planning and brazen actions to accomplish.
As a result, my stepdaughter is re-thinking her use of bikes in DC – possibly changing over to the bike share program, though that means a four block walk to the nearest station or buying the junkiest one she can find on the web.
It should not be this way – for bicycle usage to continue growing for commuter and recreational purposes, manufacturers, cycling advocates, retailers, internet sites, and law enforcement need to devise ways to thwart and deter bicycle thievery. This may include:
- Better bike designs that hinder/prevent theft
- Tamper proof/saw proof locks
- Greater law enforcement
- Heftier penalties
- Dedicated indoor bike parking structures with digital/keyed access
- Require proof of ownership to sell a bike, or
- some other idea.
We all know this problem is not unique to DC. Across the globe bike thievery is an ongoing headache. Without improved safety and security, the recent growth in bicycling beyond weekend recreation could suffer as owners tire of losing their bikes and the cost of replacing them.