Community

Keep your bike safe, secure

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

It takes a good bike thief just under a second to cut a cable lock and maybe a day or two to sell your stolen bike on Craigslist, Britslist or chop it into parts. Since 2012, between 250-400 bikes have been reported stolen annually. When our police officers inspect bikes that are found with alleged suspects, the vast majority of the time the serial number on the bottom of the frame hasn’t been registered. The suspect goes free. With your bike.

May is Bike Theft Prevention Month in Bellingham. You can register your bike with ease at events like Bike to Work and School Day, Ski to Sea, and at Galbraith trailheads. Local brew pubs will feature tap nights for people to get their rides registered, too. And you can do it on your own at http://www.cob.org/stopbiketheft. This simple registration process helps police get your bike back to you if it gets stolen. And because our program is not restricted just to Bellingham, if your bike is picked up by Seattle police or other jurisdictions, it can be returned to you.

There’s an important step that everyone can take along with registering your bike: lock it up the right way. U-locks—the clunky, heavy, not really sure how to carry this damn thing—is the best lock to use when you’re out and about. I’m not saying it’s foolproof, but it’s light-years ahead of that easily carried cable lock that won’t do much to save your bike. Cables don’t cut it. When your bike’s outside, U-lock your ride.

Realizing that I’m straying a bit here from the theft-prevention narrative, but as a means to keep all of your body parts where they were intended to be, please ride like a driver. That means being seen by motorists and riding predictably and lawfully. No one wants to run over a person who’s biking—well, that’s not true—there’s some real jerks out there, but most sane drivers just want to get to their destination. Be seen, wear a helmet and use your lights.

I’m happy to report that WTA is adding 10 new bike racks—five of them covered—adjacent to the downtown bus station. This bike parking station will have a pump, a repair stand and coverage by video surveillance. This is a great addition, but we need bike lockers downtown to keep your bike safe while you shop, eat, drink or spend time with friends and family in the downtown core. As your Council representative for downtown (and surrounding neighborhoods), I strongly support bike lockers at Depot Market Square and the Commercial Street Parking Garage—to start. Contact your council member and the mayor if you agree.

There’s a bit of a silver lining happening with bike thefts: They’re down from previous years. In the first quarter of 2018, 39 bikes were reported stolen, down from 58 last year and 98 in 2016. Bellingham Police conducted a “bait bike” program that netted multiple arrests over several months. Almost every time the bait bike was put out, it was stolen. It could have been the rainy and cold weather that kept the number of stolen bikes low, but proactive police enforcement with a high success rate probably didn’t hurt. Either way, bike thefts are down. Let’s get together as a community and keep it this way. Register your bike, U-lock it when you’re out - and most of all, have fun riding and be safe out there!

Dan Hammill is the Ward 3 Representative for Bellingham City Council

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