Pedal Parking and Locking up

As much as we would love to never get off the joy-machines so much of the world calls a bicycle, eventually it comes time to eat, sleep, and do whatever else occupies our days. This leads to the question of where do you park your pedal powered ride. So much of this question is answered in context. Where are you parking? When? For how long? Day or night? How frequent and sophisticated is the potential bike theft in the area, generally?

Parking basics
Styles of bike racks, 3 lack adequate lock points
I think it is somewhat helpful to think about bike parking in comparison to car parking. Both riders and drivers want safe and convenient parking. Each means something different in different places and times. There are some similarities and there are some differences. The most important difference is probably about scale. The average car weighs about two ton. The average city bike weighs somewhere between 20-50 pounds, depending on the bike and how it is outfitted. This disparity really makes a difference of where it is safe and expected to park the respective vehicles, not to mention how and where they are ridden/driven. We generally frown, laugh, or even run in terror if a car tries to park on the sidewalk. In contrast, it is pretty well expected that a bike can find an appropriate location on a sidewalk. 

A basic similarity is in the rational behavior desire to walk as little as possible after parking. According to the Association of Bicycle and Pedestrian Professionals' Essentials of Bike Parking, bike racks for short term parking should be visible from the entrance of the served destination and no farther than 50 feet away. You might think of bike riders as some sort of fitness freaks, but I think we actually think of choosing the active transit method of riding a bike to our destination as having the benefit of not needing to walk another mile after parking. 

The kind of parking desired for parking a bike allows for security. The image of bike racks shows some examples that either meet or do not meet the structural frame to allow best practice locking. Read on for the why or check out some of the linked sources.

Just in case this how-to for providing/using pedal parking feels to you like I have taken for granted the why provide it at all, please review the "Social enterprise and social problems" post, additionally there can be significant economic benefits to being bike friendly, read here and here.

Security basics
Bikes are potentially a pretty easy target for theft and can be quite valuable (either in real monetary value or as realized transportation value). They happen to be their own form of getaway for a thief (perhaps even without a front wheel) or at the very least have a lot of parts that are specifically designed to be easy to remove. These design perks for the owner/rider end up also being vulnerabilities when it comes to theft. Therefore, bike riders need to take special measures to insure the security of their ride.

Elgin is a pretty sleepy town when it comes to the everyday bike scene, compared to many other places. Bike theft seems to get more aggressive with the more bikes are ridden and sold in the town. So my approach to bike security is with a major metropolitan risk possibility meeting up with the relatively lower risk currently experienced in Elgin. If the goal of Elgin Bike Hub is to cultivate a vibrant bike riding community, then best practice for high end security will be my starting point.

There are three basics to the mechanics of locking a bike: what you lock with, what you lock to (anchor), and how you lock to the bike. The three primary types of locks are cable, chain, and u-locks. Each come in varying strengths of materials, but are generally considered to be progressively more theft resistant in the order listed. Anchors for locking come in all shapes and sizes, but the most important function is that it can be locked up to and it is more difficult to compromise the anchor than it is the lock (i.e. just pulling the street sign out of the ground or breaking/cutting a young tree that was used as an anchor). Finally, locking technique needs to secure the bike frame, wheels, and complement the lock's strengths. Due to the particularities of locking, I recommend reviewing lock manufacturers' guides: Kryptonite or Abus.

The really short of bike locking is that you need to lock it, if you want to keep it. The best security is a locked indoor location, particularly for overnight. Additionally, get your bike registered with Elgin Police Department to increase your chances of recovery and keep records of your own bike's serial number and ownership. Happy pedaling and safe parking!


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