Given that cycling is a pandemic-safe outdoor activity, COVID-19 has sparked a bicycle boom. A spike in sales has left bikes sold out at many stores.
But with that boom, there’s also been a spike in crime.
According to BikeIndex, a national bike registry, bike thefts went up nearly a quarter between 2019 and 2020.
“With this big increase in ridership, partially due to COVID — people not wanting to take public transit, people looking for things to do that are safe outdoor activities — there’s a huge influx of bikes and there has not been an analogous increase in bike parking in urban areas,” said Lily Williams, the communications director at BikeIndex.
It’s believed the numbers are actually much higher because bike thefts are usually under-reported — many don’t report their stolen bikes because they don’t think they’ll get them back, or don’t think their bikes are worth that much money.
Regardless of how much a bike costs, it’s still important to take the right precautions.
One mistake many make is not locking up their bikes properly. Because cable locks can usually be cut, experts recommend using a u-lock instead.
“You want to lock as much of the bike to the bike rack as possible because wheels are easily removable,” Williams said. “If you lock your bike to the rack by the wheel, then they can take the wheel off and take the rest of your bike. which is obviously the more expensive part of the bike.”
Also, riders should make sure their bikes are locked to something sturdy that can’t be cut. If possible, cyclists should store their bikes inside.
Riders should also register their bikes at BikeIndex or with a local police department. It’s free and can make things easier in the event that it’s stolen.