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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How to avoid bicycle theft and vandalism [Columbus Messanger]


How to avoid bicycle theft and vandalism

(by Rachael Ingram, staff writer - June 19, 2012) 

Whether you bicycle to get around or to get in shape, safety should be priority – specifically, protecting your bike from theft and vandalism.

Interest in biking has increased on the Westside among youth and adults and for good reason. Biking is a great exercise, it is less expensive than driving and is environmentally friendly.

However, with more bikes on the road and parked in front of homes and businesses, theft and vandalism can be a threat.

“Keep it locked up all of the time,” said Karen Lorenz, coordinator of the Westgate Blockwatch.

The number one way to prevent theft is by locking up your bike even if leaving it for a short time.

Not any lock will do though, according to www.bicyclelaw.com. There are two types of locks riders should consider – a u-lock or a heavy duty chain and lock.

Other devices, like cable locks, are easily cut and not likely to deter a thief.

Where the lock is placed is just as important as the lock itself.

The best place to secure a bicycle is to a metal structure fastened in cement that would-be thieves cannot cut through or tear down.

Wood fences and trees are not a deterrent to a persistent and seasoned thief. They simply cut through or cut down the impediment.

While theft is generally on the rise in many areas, Westgate has seen a decline in stolen bicycles, Lorenz said.
This is due to an active community blockwatch program and added police patrols. Citizens patrol regularly in cars, on foot and by bike. 

 “We easily have 75-80 members at each of our community meetings. And the 35 captains are each responsible for a block,” Lorenz said.

Residents can protect their property by documenting their bike. Record the bicycle’s serial number and photograph it. Also, retain the proof of purchase.

Keep this information in a safe place. If the bike is stolen it can be used when notifying the authorities.
Also, check with insurance companies to determine if it is covered by homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. If it is not automatically covered, consider adding it as a rider.

Westside residents have easy access to several local bike trails and according to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, at least two more areas are designated for future bikeways.

Trails offer an alternative to riding in residential and commercial areas. For a long ride, try the Alum Creek Trail, which is 25.6 miles or for something shorter, the Sullivant Trace Trail is one mile.

Bicycling advocates recommend biking with a friend on trails and always carry a cell phone. Always allow those on foot the right-of-way and travel single file in congested areas.


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