We all know bike theft in San Francisco is rampant. The city released a report last month that confirmed as much: a 70 percent increase in bike theft in five years, which is up to a total of 4,085 stolen bikes in 2012.
So what can you -- and the city -- do to help keep your precious ride safe?
Tweet At SFPD
This is a community affair. If people can standby and watch as a bike thief flagrantly saws through a u-lock with a battery-powered angle grinder, then there's not a great chance of stopping bike theft. Luckily, the SFPD knows that witnesses and victims are more likely to report crimes through Twitter than by phone, so they've launched this very handy @SFPDBikeTheft account to start shaming thieves and communicating with the public about current efforts to curb bike theft. If you see something, tweet something.
What to Do Before Your Bike Gets Stolen
In San Francisco it's not if your bike will get stolen, but when. Even with the best locks money can buy, all you're doing is slowing a determined thief down. Here are some good safety practices:
What to Do After Your Bike Gets Stolen
What We've Got To Look Forward To
With any luck, SFPD's efforts to curb bike theft will work. New building regulations require that new development gets indoor bike parking; that should help those who can live/work in new buildings.
The bike task force may also use "bait bikes" equipped with GPS trackers like the ones mentioned above to track down thieves and break up organized rings. One less high-tech solution that I'd love see deployed is a cardboard cutout of cops -- or maybe Mayor Ed Lee? -- positioned in high-theft areas. It seems to work in Boston, so why not here?
Leif Haven is a writer and cyclist living in the Bay Area. He's can be spotted dragging himself up a hill -- literally and metaphorically.