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Check that bike rack

by Richard Masoner

You’ve done your homework and bought the best locks for your bike, you know how to securely lock your bike, and perhaps you’ve even uglified it. But have you ensured the bike rack itself is secure?

University of Oregon students Lauren Miller, Hollie Putnam and Lauren Prince discovered all three of their locked bicycles were stolen when a thief took the entire bike rack. Though they locked their bikes to the bike rack, the bike rack itself was not secured to anything.

I’ve been to places with unsecured racks and made a stink to facilities management about it, insisting that racks are properly secured. Besides racks that are just placed on the ground, I’ve seen racks that are falling apart so that it’s easy to move the tubing around. I’ve also heard of entire racks that are stolen even when they are secured because the mounting bolts use standard heads that can be removed by commonly . I like building standards such as this one used in Denver that specify mounting bolts that are resistant to vandalism and removal.

When you lock up, wiggle the rack around to ensure it’s secure and look at the mounting bolts, especially if the bike will be unseen for more than a few minutes.

 
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13 Responses to “Check that bike rack”

  1. kaz_kougar says:

    I live in the Eugene-Springfield area and don’t work too far from the U of O. While this is typically a pretty low crime area with regards to the crime index, being such a bike friendly community we do have a very high bike theft rate. You can never be too secure when it comes to bike locks. Where I work, we have a covered cage with access only to employees by their ID badge. Most employees don’t lock their bikes inside the cage but I do. While I would hate to see security compromised on our bike cage or the door left open one time only to have a fellow employee robbed of a bike, my thought is that if that facility is compromised my locked bike being surrounded by a number of unlocked bikes will not look nearly as attractive and most likely be left untouched.

  2. Nick Nunns says:

    The Denver building standard is great, as long as the inverted U is actually attached to something.

  3. Jett says:

    I’m picturing a bike rack with three bikes dangling from it. That has got to be worth turning into a video. ;-) .

  4. danomite says:

    In Vancouver BC a number of the posts that hold up the parking/ no parking signs are bolted into coupler at ground level. This allows for easy removal and maintenance of the signs. It also makes for easy removal of bikes that are locked to them. I also see many a proper bike rack that is held into the ground by a bolt that might aswell be a thumbtack. I always try to find a parking meter as my first option. Its in the city’s best interest to keep those stuck in the ground!

  5. Choke says:

    Most of the places I need to lock-up at here in Fremont, CA have those big upside-down U-shaped racks sunk into the concrete. Pretty sweet.

  6. bikesgonewild says:

    …i once convinced the manager of a food store in a small shopping center, who had acquiesced to getting a bike rack for customers, that it needed to be permanently anchored…

    …i asked him out to the parking lot & pointed out something he hadn’t considered…i simply said that just like we both had jobs, there were nefarious people out there who made it their job to steal bicycles & if they drove up in a truck or van, waited for just the right moment & then threw the whole rack w/ bikes into the vehicle, they just made probably 10 times as much money in a day as he or i…
    …to his credit, he made sure that rack was embedded in the asphalt…

    …while it’s unfortunate we have to think in those kinds of terms, it is the cold hard reality…

  7. joel says:

    Makes me think of the bikes I used to see in high school, with the (new at the time) U lock attached to a chain link fence. Sure, the lock is great but it only takes some cheapo cutters to go through the fence.

    Where I have to lock up at work is on a pair of movable police barricades (the ones they use to block the streets for parades and such). Thankfully, they are in a part of the garage that very few people (essentially only the one other cyclist) know exists. I still tend to lock to some of the permanent fixtures (a metal stand with 2 AC units on it is my favorite) when I can get at them.

  8. Quinn says:

    A lot of the bike racks here in Reno are heavily bolted to the cement and or wall and the bolts are typically covered in foaming epoxy.

  9. Knuckles says:

    This is what my town is putting in:
    http://www.bikearlington.com/parking.cfm

    They’re secured but not too beefy- wouldn’t trust them overnight, but running into a store for a few minutes or for a beer, on a heavily trafficked street, I find them OK. The Whole Foods right in this neighborhood has the standard U racks.

  10. bikesgonewild says:

    …what i do like about those racks, knuckles, beyond their function, is that they’re a constant reminder of the “bicycle” for the average joe, walking or driving around yer town…

    …also just kind of a bike sculpture piece, in a way…

  11. gef says:

    I can’t seem to find a picture, but UMBC in Catonsville, MD has a pretty sweet setup. Their bike racks are big fiberglass covers that you lift up, put your bike underneath, and lock down with a lock. I don’t know the details, such as what kind of lock you need, but I do think there’s a stand underneath to hold the bike up. While it does take up more space, the bike is totally free from tampering.

    I always thought it would be too much of a pain to steal the rack with the bike, guess I was wrong.

  12. Dan says:

    Here is Des Moines the city has been installing more of the parking meters with loop shaped bike rack that seems to be pretty secure.

    Here’s a similar design I found on a google search but sans parking meter at the top:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/insidestory/191011847/

    Also, for Bike to Work week, one shopping/entertainment district commissions local artists to design artistic bike racks to use in the district until the next BTW week. Pretty innovative designs, but some are not very secure. Luckily we don’t have major problems with theft around here.

    Here are some examples:
    http://www.bikeiowa.com/asp/gallery/gallery.asp?PicType=134

  13. nat says:

    When i was a freshman in college, there was apparently a gang going around on campus and doing just this–except with more-or-less full bike racks. 4 or so guys would pull up with a 16′ straight truck (or the like), pry the entire bike rack out of the ground (for a lot of those, just the leverage of a crowbar and the bike rack itself is apparently sufficient to overcome the 4 bolts holding the corners down), and put it and all its bikes into the truck and drive away. And when the rack is bolted into bricks instead of concrete…

    I actually came out once to find the rack my bike was locked to with the bricks three of the bolts were in pried out of the ground. Must’ve been scared off before they could get the 4th out.

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