Opinion: Robin Heydon

This article was published in 2018, in Magazine 141.

Robin Heydon
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Together we can reduce the number of cycles stolen in Cambridge

One of the great things about the Camcycle monthly meetings is the range of topics discussed. This month we had a local police inspector over to talk about the issues of the day. Obviously, cycle theft, safety on the Busway, Fen Road, and terribly close passing on roads like Mill Road meant that we had a lengthy and interesting discussion.

Inspector Paul Rogerson provided some useful insight. In terms of crime, the Busway for example is less dangerous than most of the surrounding areas. You are more likely to need some police response riding down Trumpington Road or Hills Road than riding along the Busway maintenance track.

However, the most surprising observation was that cycle theft has a ‘detection’ rate of about 2%. A detection is a thief being arrested and charged with the appropriate crime. This means that 98% of the time the police don’t know beyond reasonable doubt who stole your bicycle. They also have few resources available to investigate the majority of these cycle thefts.

He did say that one of the main problems was the availability of 99p locks. To prove this point, the inspector said that he used some of his budget to buy every cheap bicycle lock in the city and then sat outside the station and used a regular pair of garden shears to cut into them. Of course, carrying some big heavy bolt cutters around Cambridge may look suspicious, but if you look like a gardener, and are carrying some garden sheers around, then I’m sure you are just moving from one worksite to another. The fact that there are plenty of expensive bikes locked up with something as effective as a piece of wet string means that these bicycles will keep getting stolen.

Securely locking your bike
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Locking up a cycle is really easy. Step 1 is to buy a good lock. Yes, this means expensive, but a good lock is still cheaper than a few days of taxi rides or bus fares getting around the city when your iron horse is stolen. I’d recommend something with the Secure Gold rating. When I bought my last lock, I went into the store, found the most expensive lock I could that had the Gold rating, and got that one. But you can find Sold Secure Gold locks for under £50, so these are not hugely expensive. Sold Secure is the premier testing and certification house for security products, and I’d trust anything that they certify. Gold is better than Silver or Bronze.

Step 2 is to lock one wheel and the frame to something immovable, like one of the cycle parking stands sprinkled around the city. Don’t just lock a wheel, as the thieves will steal the frame. Don’t just lock the frame, as the thieves will steal the wheels. Lock both wheels and the frame to a secure stand with two locks, or one lock and a long cable. And don’t forget to remove your lights before they remove them for you.

That is all there is to it. Buy good quality locks, and use them to lock your wheels and your frame to a stand. Together we can reduce the number of cycles stolen in the city. Is this what you do? If not, why not?

Robin Heydon is Chair of Camcycle. This article was first published on 8 October in the Cambridge News and online at cambridge-news.co.uk, where you can read his Camcycle column each week.

Find out more about how to lock your bike by watching our animated video at camcycle.org.uk/welcometocycling. We also recommend that you keep a record of the details of your bike (ideally with a photo) including make, model, colour, tyre size and distinctive markings or accessories. Read more on Cyclescape thread 704.

Make sure you report all thefts in person at the police station or by calling 101.