By Brian J Pape, AIA, LEED-AP

On a clear Wednesday afternoon, outside my apartment, I locked my ebike with a U-bolt lock. When I came back out a little while later, it was all gone—lock, stock, and battery. It’s happened to me before, and to many other people in the city. What can we do to save our bikes?

Previously, I probably wouldn’t even file a police report, since chances are the bike was immediately taken out of the city, or even out of the state. This time, however, I resolved to take action!

THIS THIEF brazenly took only moments to steal my bike. If you recognize him, call the 6th Precinct at 212-741-4811. Credit (from security camera): Brian J. Pape, AIA.

I began to check around, looking for any security cameras that may have recorded the event. As it turned out, a nearby camera captured a good view of the thief walking up the sidewalk, approaching the bike, hesitating as he checked out the scene, then taking a tool out of his backpack, cutting the lock, grabbing the bike and riding off with it. 

That is exceptional evidence for the police, and it was the motivation to file a police report at the 6th Precinct station. Perhaps the bike is long gone, but maybe the thief is still casing the neighborhood for other victims. You never know.

I also researched the best security locks available for bikes. I found that Kryptonite by Schlage made U-bolt locks that come with a $4,000 warranty for loss due to cutting or disabling their lock on your bike; for $90, that seems to be a good investment. My local Waterfront Bike Shop had them in stock. 

I love riding bikes too much to give up. Thanks to our publisher for lending me a spare bike until the new bike I ordered is delivered, I have something to get around on.

Last year, I made the switch to pedal-assist ebikes, and I love the versatility of riding without power to get exercise, then using the power-assist for long rides, difficult hills, or when I am in a special hurry. Ebikes are in great demand, as are traditional bikes of all varieties. That demand makes them tempting targets for the unscrupulous among us. Long ago, I was told that locks keep honest people honest, but that a determined thief can manipulate almost any lock. Nevertheless, we can make it much harder for the crooks to succeed. I decided to do my small part to thwart their efforts, and I encourage readers to choose the most secure locks they can find.

Brian J. Pape is a LEED-AP “green” architect consulting in private practice. He serves on the Manhattan District 2 Community Board Landmarks Committee and Quality of Life Committee, and is also co-chair of the American Institute of Architects NY Design for Aging Committee, a member of the AIANY Historic Buildings Committee, and a journalist specializing in architecture subjects.

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