Editors note: Minor corrections made on 9-6-11.
The fall semester at Arizona State University started last week. In preparation I pulled my blue Schwinn out of hibernation. In mid-June, I fell on gravel leaving a deep gash on my arm and painful road rash. Now I felt ready to hop on my two-wheeler again. Last school year, I was seen peddling as my primary transportation around town, on campus and to the light rail. I take pride living in a bike friendly city, not to mention enjoy saving money on gas and a pricey parking permit.
Thursday was the first day of school. Within five minutes, I reached the light rail stop at University and Rural roads on ASU campus. I walked over to the bike racks and
choose chose a spot to lock up. After securing the bike frame to a rack with a Kryptonite U-lock, I considered its safety for only a second and walked off to catch the train.
Once or twice during the day I wondered about my wheels, but I was absorbed in my new classes and put the thought out of my head. Eight hours had passed until I returned to my bike. Just then a dust storm approached, the sky began to darken and I thought to myself I’ll be home in a few minutes on two wheels.
As I looked toward the bike rack, I realized something was wrong. The bike sat tilted and much lower to the ground than I remembered. Both wheels were gone. . . Really? Oh no! Who could have done this?
I looked around and people buzzed by me on skateboards and bikes and I realized the traffic at this transit stop was constant. Each person that passed looked focused to get to their next destination and I figured no one would pay enough attention to stop a bike thief.
I felt violated. My bike was in one piece this morning. Now it was inoperable. Frustrated, I left the bike remnants locked to the rack and went home to decide my next move.
My negative attitude was clouding my logic. I posted the photo below to Facebook and went for a run. When I returned home, a friend offered me a set of spare wheels that fit my bike. Yes! This disaster was turning around. I stopped by to pick them up later that night. I was so grateful. My friend did not even charge me.
The next day, my roommate attached the new wheels and took it for a test drive. I was relieved. Now to take some precautions. I went to Tempe Bicycle. I asked an associate if theft was common and he said that he sells wheels and new locks to about five customers a day. Wow! I was just one of the cyclists affected by theft that day and this was only one of several bike stores in town. Police could never catch that many bike thieves. I would have to be smarter about where and how I locked up from now on. I asked for locking lug nuts for quick-release tires to prevent this from happening again. He walked me to a display with locks and cables and pointed to an empty row showing that the lug nuts were sold out. Instead I decided to purchase a long cable to weave through the tires, making the bike less desirable to thieves.
Recommendations for new bikers to Tempe:
- Buy a good U-lock. Cables can be cut by thieves. Kryptonite is a strong brand that also provides the option to register and insure your bike.
- Lock your bike to a stationary object like a pole or bike rack.
- Find a visible and well-lit area to leave your bike.
- Secure other components such as a quick-release seat or tires with extra cables. Make your bike difficult to steal. Thieves will usually go for the easiest target.
- Register your bike with ASU Police or the The National Bike Registry.
- Bike theft arrests increase (statepress.com)
- Tempe man finds his stolen $3,000 bike on Craigslist (azcentral.com)
- Bike theft on the rise again, say Toronto cyclists (thestar.com)