If you’ve lost a few bikes to the city over the years, you can probably be excused for your fatalism. Chained together outside an RV parked on Shotwell next to the FoodsCo the other day were three Bay Area Bike Share bikes, all of which are reportedly equipped with GPS transponders. If they can’t keep those bikes secure or recover them when stolen (and let’s face it, they’re not even particularly nice bikes) then what hope do you have?
Unfortunately, even if you keep your ride locked up indoors or thoroughly secure it on the street, at best you can only hope to slow down a dedicated thief. If your bicycle is stolen in San Francisco, you may be able to improve your otherwise dismal chances of ever getting it back by registering it with SAFE Bikes. A project of local non-profit Safety Awareness for Everyone in partnership with the San Francisco Police Department, simply fill out the web form to add your bike to the local database.
According to Bob Mionske, a lawyer who specializes in cycling-related cases, while 48 percent of stolen bikes are recovered, only five percent are returned to their owners. And that’s presumably just the bike thefts that are even reported, many of which aren’t. SAFE Bikes won’t necessarily help keep your bike from getting nabbed, but if the police do find it, the chances you’ll be reunited may be somewhat increased.
Even if you don’t have much faith in the SFPD, it’s a good exercise in taking care of your bike in case the worst does happen. That includes taking photos, writing down the serial number and keeping documentation like purchase and repair receipts to prove it’s yours. You should probably consider also sending the info to the National Bike Registry, because once a bike is stolen from the streets of San Francisco it might be shipped to another market for resale, and there’s no guarantee the police in Los Angeles, Portland or even Oakland are going to check San Francisco’s list.
Besides, you’re also going to need all that information handy anyway when you file your police report, which is often a necessary step if you want to collect on a bike lock or renter’s insurance policy. So while it’s boring and possibly futile, consider it anyway! Theoretically, anything that increases the risks associated with bike theft will decrease its current popularity, helping everyone hold on to their sweet rides.
Alternatively, you can try meditating for years to cultivate a sense of bemused detachment to the phenomenal world of “things” like bikes. Might help cut down on the vain outrage inspired by loss and a sense of vulnerability! Definitely won’t help get your bike back, though.
[Photo Diane Yee]