What do you think the future holds?
10 of the top independent bike shops in London share their views on what the government and private companies can do to help reduce cycle theft in London.
The government could go a long way to improve cycle parking. More secure and well monitored areas that are regularly checked and properly maintained would be a good start. As for private companies, the same thing really, but maybe aim to provide off street parking for employees who cycle to work.
More monitored places to park up would be a good start. A lot of things that are done at the moment with things like Bike Register and through the police are great but could do with more reach, advice on how to lock up and where to be wary etc. I think an organised network is always the way to go, like Bike Register or Stolen Ride but then that network needs to be expanded and people need to be aware of its existence which I suppose is about getting funding.
The government and police can take bike theft more seriously. I think they’re doing better with the bike marking, but that’s not necessarily prevention. If penalties were harsher that could put thieves off. It’s the same with drivers – if we had strict liability laws, I betcha that we’d see fewer road casualties.
I think entrepreneurs are the ones that are going to come up with better ideas. Some are more realistic than others, but the things people come up with to deter thieves, like the Stinkbomb lock, are hilarious.
We would like to see secure parking areas developed as well as increased resources used for following up on bike theft. Employers should be encouraged to provide a safe place for employees to store bikes. Central London especially could do with more areas for bike locking as commuters are having to resort to locking them to fences and lesser secure places. It would be useful to see new developments having to include bike storage as a part of the planning permission.
Caged bike lockups are a good start, ones with CCTV.
More respect for cycling as a whole. Improving the cycling infrastructure on London’s roads, to see offences against cyclists taken more seriously. If that respect was in place, then perhaps bicycle theft would be taken more seriously too.
There’s a number of things we think the government and local councils could do. Firstly, if it became the law to wear a helmet when riding a bike, this could single out a bike thief a lot easier. If you were a thief, you’d have to carry around a bike helmet so as not to draw attention to yourself, I couldn’t see many younger bike thieves buying a helmet and carrying it around while they steal bikes. If they are on a bike and they don’t have a helmet then it gives the police a reason to stop them.
Secondly, the police need be more clued up on spotting a stolen bike. At the shop, we get a high number of teenage kids on ladies bikes, extra-large men’s frames and even kids bikes that are too small for them. They’ll be outside the shop trying to remove baskets, mudguards, bag racks; anything that makes the bike stand out. There’s no way they’ve bought these bikes from a shop, what shop would sell a 13 year old a ladies bike with a baby seat? Or a bike that’s suitable for a 6’4″ man?
Thirdly, and I think this would be brilliant for bike shops and the repair industry, is if bikes had to have a yearly MOT, where they have to pass certain safety checks to be certified to ride on the road. There are too many bikes on the road which are unsafe to ride, from brakes that don’t work to worn down chains that are on the edge of snapping. These bikes aren’t just unsafe for the cyclist but they can cause accidents with other people. The MOT would be registered that bike and the owner, if a thief gets pulled over on a bicycle and the paper work doesn’t matchup, the police would know it’s stolen. Equally if someone went to buy a second hand bike on Gumtree for example and the person can’t provide them with the correct paperwork then at least they know it’s stolen and that might put them off buying it. I know all these are tall orders to enforce but drastic times equal drastic measures!
Maybe it could work the way Facebook does when it recommends people you may know because of the people you are already affiliated with. If there was a data base that people could upload a photo of their stolen bike with a description of frame colour, components, size etc… the data base could search places like eBay, gumtree etc… and find similarities. It could even be a government scheme that the police could be involved in and they could even upload pictures of recovered bikes.
Some councils are doing good work to provide better parking and TfL has also provided support for this. Quality stands in well-lit public areas are more secure than poorly designed stands in tucked away places. Private landlords could do more to provide secure parking in flats and other businesses could provide better parking at places like cinemas and shops (we provide Plantlock stands outside our shop).
Some sort of compulsorily cycles recitation for every new bike sold, a national database of frame numbers, make and model.