cycle hangar london

The Bike Theft Epidemic in London: Urgent Need for Action

Last Updated on 7 November 2023 by Stefano

In recent reports, Hackney has emerged as the epicentre for bike thefts, shining a light on a larger issue within the bustling streets of London. The numbers speak volumes – with more than 20,000 cycles being stolen annually in the city, the urgency for preventive action cannot be overstated.

According to Metropolitan Police figures, Hackney tops the list with a staggering 896 reported bike thefts between January and July this year. Following closely are Tower Hamlets (746), Westminster (664), and Camden (630). The statistics are alarming, revealing that over 50 bikes are reported stolen every day across the capital.

However, the grim reality extends further; it is believed that the actual number of thefts is significantly higher. Shockingly, over half of cyclists choose not to report these crimes due to the abysmal clear-up rates. Last year, a staggering 93.7% of reported bike thefts to the Met went unresolved.

In response to this growing crisis, the Clean Cities Campaign has taken a proactive stance, urging Londoners affected by bike theft to share their stories on social media using the #StolenDreams hashtag. This collective action aims to draw attention to the sheer scale of the issue and push for concrete solutions.

The situation has drawn concern from various quarters, notably the Commons public accounts committee, which highlighted the lack of secure bike parking as a significant deterrent to cycling. Moreover, the committee warned about the repercussions, expressing that this inadequacy might dissuade individuals from choosing cycling as a mode of transport.

The government’s recent decision to cut its walking and cycling budget by £233 million in March further compounds the problem. Current measures fall short of meeting commitments to enhance active travel nationally by 2025, as emphasized by the public accounts committee.

While efforts have been made to address this issue, such as the establishment of nearly 5,000 bike hangars across London providing secure storage for 29,000 bikes, it’s clear more needs to be done. Transport for London, in collaboration with borough cycling schemes, aims to increase these hangars to 7,000 by 2030, creating 42,000 secure spaces.

The urgency to address this epidemic is clear. It requires a concerted effort from both the authorities and the community to safeguard the bikes and the dreams they carry. Action is imperative to foster a safe environment for cyclists and prevent the disillusionment of countless individuals affected by these thefts.

Secure Your Ride: Tips for Bike Locking and Security

There’s nothing more disheartening than discovering your bike has been stolen when you rely on it for your daily commute or recreation. Understandably, there’s no such thing as an ‘un-stealable’ bike. Even the most secure-looking bikes can fall victim to the expertise of professional thieves, contributing to an estimated 80,000 bike thefts in London every year.

K-Traz M18 Lock

The pivotal question is about proportionality – assessing the value of your bike, the duration you’ll be leaving it unattended, and consequently, how much effort you should invest in keeping it reasonably secure.

Opportunistic thieves often prey on easy targets. Here are some key tips to outsmart thieves and bolster the security of your bike:

How You Lock Up:

  • Invest in Quality Locks: Purchasing the best lock you can afford is a wise investment, significantly cheaper than having to replace your entire bike. A general guideline is to allocate between 10-20% of your bike’s value to a lock or a combination of locks. Remember, a high-value bike is more appealing to thieves compared to a second-hand, lower-value model.

  • Use Two Locks for Enhanced Security: Employing two locks acts as a deterrent to potential thieves. Organizations like ‘Sold Secure’ categorize locks from Gold to Bronze based on their security level. We recommend at least one lock with a ‘Sold Secure‘ Gold rating. While stronger locks provide better security, they tend to be bulkier and heavier. For maximum security, consider using two different types of locks, as thieves typically require different tools to cut D-locks versus chains.
  • D-Locks:

    • Secure Tight and Facing Down: Wrap D-locks tightly around your bike, making them harder to pry open. Additionally, lock them with the mechanism facing downward to make picking the lock a more challenging task.

    • Lock Placement: If you’re using a single D-lock, avoid securing it through the top bar, as this could allow perpetrators to use the bike as leverage to break the lock. Instead, opt for other parts of the main frame for a more secure locking position.

    • Chains with Solid Padlocks:

      • Elevate Chains: Keep chains raised off the ground as they are more difficult to cut when suspended in mid-air. Invest in thick chains equipped with solid padlocks for enhanced security.

      Remember, while bendy wire cables serve well for securing individual parts like wheels and saddles to the frame, they are insufficient to secure an entire bike.

Taking these precautions and investing in quality locks significantly decreases the chances of bike theft. Prioritizing bike security through these measures ensures a better chance of keeping your ride safe and sound.


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