Why Bicycle Locks Are Needed
Unlike many other types of property theft, bicycle theft has risen in recent years. This is most likely due to two reasons; the increasing popularity of biking as a means to commute to and from work, and the growing interest in road cycling as a sport. Another probable reason that bicycle theft is on the rise is that police departments put very little precedence on finding stolen bikes or punishing the thieves. So despite the fact that criminals often have to sell the stolen bicycle for pennies on the dollar, the limited risk still makes them an attractive target. It is estimated that over 1.5 million bicycles are stolen every year in just the U.S. alone.
If we look at the bicycle theft statistics for New York between 2011 and 2014, we can see almost a 70% increase over this four year period. In 2011, 2,894 bicycles were stolen in New York. In 2012, 3,503, in 2013, 4,249 were stolen, and in 2014, 4,849 were stolen. To make matters worse, only about 2% to 3% of reported stolen bicycles are ever recovered.
Your riding habits and where you leave your bike locked up are directly related to the chances of your bicycle being stolen. Students should be particularly concerned as bicycle theft statistics for college campuses are extremely high. Active cyclists, defined as those who use their bicycle nearly every day for commuting, face some of the highest risks. Nearly 50% of active cyclist have a bicycle stolen at some point in their lives, and many have two or even three stolen. During a study on bicycle theft, McGill researchers found that from 961 respondents who were victims of bicycle theft, a total of 1,890 bicycles were stolen.
Understanding The Three Most Popular Types Of Bicycle Locks
When it comes to buying a bicycle lock, there are many different kinds to choose from, each of which has distinctive benefits and drawbacks. One of the most popular types is a U-lock, sometimes referred to as a D-lock. These are comprised of a rigid metal ring in the shape of a U and a crossbar that locks onto the two points of the U. To lock a bicycle, one can either hook the lock around their frame and a pole or other object that is securely grounded.
Unfortunately this leaves the front tire unsecured, and if somebody has a quick release mechanism on their tires it can be easily stolen. Another option is to lock the frame to the front tire, but when locking a bicycle in this manner, there is nothing to prevent somebody from picking it up and walking away with it. The benefit of a U-lock though is that they are extremely hard to break, offering your bicycle a higher level of protection.
Chain locks are comprised of just a chain and a lock, which can either be a key of combination model. The security of a bicycle chain lock is directly tied to the thickness and hardiness of the chain. Smaller chains, while easier to transport, can be cut relatively quickly with a pair of standard bolt cutters. Extra thick and hard chains may require the use of an angle grinder or other power tool to break the chain. Most chain locks are large enough to loop around the frame, through the front wheel, and around some type of grounded pole. The flexibility of a chain also makes them easier to loop around unusually shaped objects, which might not be possible with a U-lock.
Cable locks are similar to chain locks in style and functionality, but instead of using a chain to secure the bicycle, a heavy-duty steel cable is used. Cable locks tend to be lighter in weight than chain locks, making them easier to transport. Some also coil up tightly, so they can be stored in places where U-locks and chain locks cannot fit. Unfortunately, cable locks are one of the easiest to cut, which only makes them suitable for low-risk areas and daytime use.
Biking For Good Health
Despite the increased risk of bicycle thefts active cyclists experience, the health benefits of regular cycling are well worth it. Any type of regular cardiovascular exercise can lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and more. Many such exercises, like running and HIT training, are often high impact. High-impact exercise can lead to knee and ankle joint pain later in life. Cycling, along with swimming, are two of the best low-impact, high cardio exercises one can perform. They are also suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.
In addition to physical health, studies have shown that regular cycling can improve mental health as well. One such study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research stated that scientists found that participants scored higher on memory, reasoning, and planning tests after 30 minutes of cycling than before cycling. They were also able to complete the tests quicker. Another study found that individuals who regularly participated in high levels of physical activity had a significantly decreased risk of developing clinical depression. Research has also shown that both high and low-intensity exercise can reduce levels of anxiety.