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So, with all this information and Bikeoff's research what should you do to prevent your bike getting nicked? The following points expand on the basic Dos and Don'ts and I think you need to follow them all!
Recording a description of the bike
Note down the make, model and frame number of the bike. The frame number can usually be found under the crank or on the frame close the hub of the back wheel. Take a photograph of the bike against a plain background and make a note of any distinguishing marks, such as scratches and dents that would be unique to your bike.
Registering your bike with a secure database
If you like your bike and want to improve your chances of getting it back (should it be stolen) then do mark, tag and register it with one of the police recognised schemes and databases shown below. To know more about property marking and tagging and why you should use a police recognised system take a look at Property identification - marking, tagging and tracking. A highly visible warning label placed on the bike so a potential thief in a hurry can see it is most important.
The following company’s bike registration schemes are approved by the police:
Retainagroup Certified to LPS 1224 and approved by police and Thatcham
Bike Register Certified to LPS 1224 and approved by police
Datatag Certified to LPS 1224 and approved by police
Securing the bike at home
When your bike is at your home and it is practical to do so take it indoors with you! Now I realise this won’t be possible for all of you, but I do know people do it. Some housing association and local authority blocks of flats have incorporated an internal cycle store and some private and social landlords have allowed bike storage in large hallways, providing this does not adversely affect means of escape. I’ve even seen bikes stored on the external balconies of blocks of flats (and reported their theft, when they haven’t been locked to the balcony railing!) A mate of mine used to keep his stored on a wall bracket in his flat and if you follow this link to Bikeoff’s ‘Putting the brakes on bicycle theft’ brochure you can view a wall bracket for this very purpose.
Most of us will, of course, store the bike in an outbuilding, such as the garage or a shed and so it’s important to ensure that these outbuildings are properly secured. To see what to do go to Preventing crime in the garden, outbuildings and garage, Preventing theft from the garden
Even if you are storing the bike in an outbuilding do think about further securing the bike to the wall or floor using a ground anchor or wall bracket.
If you have no room in the outbuildings you can purchase purpose made secure storage containers that can sit in the garden. These consist of a large steel box (that has been treated and powered coated to resist rusting) with a lockable lift up front section. The bikes are then further secured inside the box to secure locking points using cable locks. Their appearance doesn’t give away their intended use and actually resemble other garden storage containers.
I recommend you get one that is certificated to the following standard. A product at security level 1 would suffice for bicycles.
LPS 1175 Issue 6 Requirements and testing procedures for the LPCB approval and listing of intruder resistant building components, strongpoints, security enclosures and free-standing barriers
The above security standard has been published by the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB), which is part of BRE Global. Products that are certificated to this standard have undergone rigorous, independent testing by the LPCB and are subject to continuous ongoing assessment to ensure that the quality of the product is maintained. Part of the ongoing assessment includes a regular inspection of the company’s manufacturing facilities and the company must hold a BS EN ISO 9001:2008 Quality management system.
The police Secured by Design project supports the inclusion of bicycle parking facilities in its designing out crime guidance for new homes (SBD New Homes). Where a new large block of flats has included an internal bicycle store the guidance suggests that the store should have no windows and that the door to the store should meet the same physical characteristics of a front door to a house. The only difference is a requirement for the locks to be openable from inside the store using a thumb turn, in case somebody is accidentally locked in. ( Door Security, Improving the security of your existing doors, Entrance doors to single occupancy houses)
Bikeoff’s recommendations for off-street parking (mainly parking at home)
I have included an excerpt of Bikeoff’s thoughts concerning the basic requirements for off-street cycle parking. The following bullet points and the recommendations already mentioned above will be useful should you need to approach your landlord or the managing agent about some new parking facilities.
- Indoor bicycle parking is a cost-effective way to satisfy tenants or occupants of a managed building for long term parking
- Covered, indoor or off-street parking should be accessible, well-lit, and secure
- Providing indoor bike parking is relatively simple and does not [is unlikely to] conflict with fire and building [regulations] or create additional liability for the property owner
- Tenants appreciate well designed, secure bike parking
- In flats - cycles should be able to be safely stored on the ground floor
- In residential areas, cycle parking should be within a covered lockable enclosure. For individual homes this should be a shed or garage [but can also be a purpose made container as described above]
- For communal parking (e.g. student accommodation), this should be individual lockers or lockable enclosed facilities with bike racks
- Within residential developments, appropriate bicycle parking should also be provided. In individual dwellings, this can be in the form of a cycle store, preferably built as an integral feature of a garage
- Considering parking in shared garages: a bicycle requires 1/10 the amount of space required to park a car. Many garages have unused space near the entrance on the ground level, which is perfect for bicycle parking. The bike parking should be well lit, visible and in a convenient location with sufficient manoeuvring space separate from car parking
- Where there are groups of dwellings and communal parking, a dedicated cycle store could be created to complement the car park. This should be secure, well lit and only accessible by residents
- At workplaces, placing parking in a secure compound which only cyclists can gain access to, for example, using shared keys, combination locks or swipe card access, adds another worthwhile layer of security
Securing the bike away from home
If you’re going to a place that you’ve not been to before then see if you can establish if there is a secure place to leave the bike before you make the journey. I have used Google Street View with some success. Whilst it would be preferable to park your bike onto bicycle parking furniture so that you can use the locks in the correct manner you may have to use whatever you can find. Don’t be afraid to ask to leave the bike inside the building you are visiting if they have no parking facilities. I know I have and most times they let me do it (it must be my natural charm). Failing that, look for a solid object that will allow you to lock the bike using the two locks; the favourite being a railing. You might want to avoid things like chain link fences, which can themselves be easily cut and anything that your bike can be lifted over, such as a single pole. Do look out for signs warning you not to leave your bike attached to the railing etc.
If the building you are visiting doesn’t have any bicycle parking furniture politely point out that it would be a good idea if they did. I do this all the time (fight the good fight and all that).
If you’re parking the bike in a town centre location try to use a parking facility that is in a busy part of town. That’s no guarantee that your bike won’t be stolen, because you can’t rely on all members of the general public to interrupt a theft, but this is still a better place than down some back alleyway out of view from passersby.
Bikeoff’s recommendations for short and long term parking away from the home
As for parking at home above I thought it would be useful to include Bikeoff’s carefully thought through recommendations for parking facilities, so that you’ve got some ammunition to use when you’re writing letters to your local council or MP about the lack of facilities for cyclists. You can also visit the Bikeoff website and contribute your own thoughts and ideas. Likewise you can send me the same stuff for inclusion in this chapter.
Short term parking
In this context ‘short term parking’ means the bike is left unattended from a few minutes up to several hours, and the facility is typically on-street.
Short stay parking is aimed at visitors to sites
At such locations:
- security is essential (e.g. natural surveillance [good overlooking], lighting)
- ideally the parking should be located no further than 30 metres from an actively used main building (destination) entrance
- The facility should be clearly visible from the entrance it serves
- The location should be no further than the nearest car parking place, preferably closer
- Parking furniture should be a stationary object
- Stands should permit at least one wheel and the frame to be locked, ideally furniture should allow both wheels and the frame to be secured
- Parking furniture should be compatible with D (U)-locks
- Facilities should be located in areas of high pedestrian activity to discourage thieves
- Facilities should require little (or no) maintenance or staffed management
- Small clusters of stands at frequent intervals may provide a better level of service than larger groupings at fewer sites
- Provision of individual stands at short stay locations – for example, outside a local shop – is often wrongly overlooked. The removal of one short-stay car parking space outside a row of local shops, and its replacement by a kerb build-out and four double sided cycle stands, can provide for up to eight times as many shoppers as the car park space
- When cycles are likely to be parked for over 1 hour, then some form of weather protection is recommended, this should include a roof and protection on 3 sides, and the facility should be designed to deter theft
- Outdoor areas protected by existing building overhangs often represent the most economical solutions, assuming such space can be found. Ideally six to seven feet of covered horizontal length should be available and the area should be close to a building entry
Long term parking
In this context ‘long term parking’ means the bike is left unattended for a few hours or more and the facility is typically off-street
- Long stay parking is mainly for commuting cyclists. Security and protection from the elements and vandalism is essential
- For longer visits, the security of the location will become more important than its exact distance from the destination. Nevertheless, cyclists will still normally expect to park on the same side of a main road as their destination
- Bicycle parking facilities intended for long term parking should protect against theft of the entire bicycle, its components and accessories. Where possible the facility should be covered as this will be more attractive to cyclists. Longer stay parking is more attractive if covered
- To reduce petty vandalism, facilities should not be immediately adjacent to walkways
Common ways of providing secure long term bicycle parking are:
- fully enclosed lockers accessible only by using a key or swipe card (which should be able to cope with jammed or lost keys)
- a continuously monitored facility (e.g. CCTV or security staff)
- restricted access facilities in which short term type bicycle racks are provided and access is restricted only to the owners of the bicycles stored therein
- Cycle lockers work best when they are assigned to individuals and have effective key-management systems. The ability to search a locker and to trace a user is important for security reasons.
Medium/long term hire of facilities (e.g. lockers) requires an explicit agreement with users, which should:
- Define the user’s responsibilities in keeping the door shut at all times when leaving the locker, storing only bikes and related accessories, and reporting any problems
- Set penalties for misuse and termination conditions - return of keys; forfeit or refund of deposit; fines for ending an agreement before term
- Obtain user contact details, waivers for inspections and set out provider’s liabilities
- Set out the locker owner’s obligations to provide a secure locker, including transfer in the event of damage to the locker
- Ideally lockers should be available late at night so locations will need to be well lit
- Offer added value incentives, such as options of insurance cover for parked bikes and locker users (e.g. block third party liability assured through national cycling organisations)
- In terms of purpose built cycle stores, passers-by should not have easy or direct access