Bicycle theft and BICYCODE
As we head into this new period where new bike lanes are popping up like dandelions many people will be buying bicycles, many will also be stolen and resold. Bikes are stolen way too often and it is likely to increase in the next months. Be sure you lock them up tight with two quality locks. Cable-type locks don’t withstand the test of an equipped thief. U-locks are the best rated and will hold up longer. Add a fixed frame lock to be even better protected. Be sure to lock your bike to something solid and fixed as well. Position the lock on your frame – not on the wheel – and try to place it as high up as possible (50cm from the ground) so a thief doesn’t have easy leverage. Many bike racks are not well conceived and only allow you to lock the front wheel to the rack, these are best avoided as they are pretty much useless. Lock your bike inside a hallway or garage or bike room as well. Most bikes are stolen during the day, in busy places and from inside buildings. Thieves use discreet tools or pretend that it is their bike and they have lost the key. See the results of lab tests on bike locks here to help you select the best lock for you.
Another thing you can do to fight bicycle theft (and this will work better and better as more and more people do it) is to have your bike registered. For less than 30 euros a bike shop will engrave a BICYCODE number on the frame of your bike, then you register it in the national online database www.bicycode.org. The more bikes registered the less easy they will be to resell on the black market and thus fewer will be stolen. Plus about a third of the bikes that are stolen are abandoned later and if the bike is registered you just might receive a call saying it has been found. In France more than 400,000 bikes are stolen every year! Each year over 150 000 recovered bikes can’t be returned to their owners, due to the lack of traceability. So give your bike a chance to find its way home, register it! Read about Bicycode in English.
If you want to buy a used bike from an individual, do your best to ascertain if it might be stolen property. Look for a Bicycode on the frame. Ask for a Bicycode registration and sales receipt in the person’s name. Ask a few questions about how long they’ve had the bike, why they are selling it (especially right now!) and of course inspect it for damage and security. If the price is really low that might be another indication of stolen property being unloaded.
If your bike is stolen, spend some time on the boncoin, craig’s list or other free ads sites – you just might see your bike for sale. Be safe and contact the authorities, don’t go get it yourself. And even unregistered bikes can be declared stolen on www.bicycode.org.
And PLEASE wear a helmet. Bike theft is not the only thing that is going to increase – accidents will too! There’s going to be a lot of inexperienced bikers out there along with pedestrians who thought the streets were theirs again.
Here’s a couple other articles about biking in Paris.
Thank you to the people at FUB (Fédération française des Usagers de la Bicyclette, an association of associations) who have worked on putting this system together since 2004. So far almost 300 000 bikes have been registered.