You would think, from the constant bombardment of images in the media showing Beijing’s numerous traffic jams, that this would be an almost impossible city to traverse by bike. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Thanks to spacious bike lanes, when they aren’t being blocked by sleeping Didi drivers, and the overall flatness of the city’s landscape, biking can be a very efficient means of transportation.
Due to the numbers of people that use bikes, there is also an annoying profusion of bike thieves who make a pretty decent living from snatching up bikes of varying quality to sell to the highest bidder. Many of us probably bought a cheap but decent bike from one of these used bike sellers, so there is an obvious market.
Here are some ways you can prevent such theft from ruining your day, especially if you are one of those families that have a fleet of very nice road bikes, which you don’t want to be stolen as the perfect season to ride gracefully along the city’s “lush” streets quickly approaches.
Get a Good Lock and Use it
This sounds like a no-brainer, but a big, daunting lock is a massive hurdle for any bike thief. Those small ones that just lock around the wheels, made of wire cable and preventing the bike from just being used, can only do so much. The perp can still easily throw the bike into the back of a truck and saw off the lock at their earliest convenience. Keep in mind that your bike is only as secure as what you’re locking it to. If your lock is long enough, you can secure it to unmovable objects to further dissuade even the most crafty of bike nabbers. We maintain that the best way is first wrapping the lock and chain around the seat tube (part of the bike frame under the seat) and spoke section of your rear tire, to something sturdy like a lamp post, tree, or other heavy metal object occupying the sidewalk.
Don’t Park in Overly Busy Areas
There are times when you are walking in busy areas of the city, and you feel like the entire sidewalk has become some sort of hive or nest for bikes, especially those involved with shared mobility platforms. In these areas, it is easy for your chic road bike to get mixed up in the fray and thrown into a pile of other awkwardly parked bikes. While this isn’t theft, it can make your bike nearly impossible to find. This has happened to us on more than one occasion, mainly outside of Sanlitun Soho. Though you immediately think your bike has been stolen, when it has just been moved a fair distance from its original location and concealed by numerous other bikes piled on top of it.
One solution to this problem listed above, of losing it among a hundred other bikes, is to find a less populated area away from the hustle and bustle to park. Though this isn’t always the most convenient option, it can save you from having to dig your way to the bottom of a Mobike pile to unearth your ride. It is about finding the happy medium of a place with foot traffic, but not so desolate that a potential bike thief could hunker down for an hour and saw off that expensive, industrial grade lock you just bought. Also, if time permits take a look around for CCTV cameras, which could come in handy if you are proactive enough to contact the authorities and find the perp that hoisted your bicycle.
Bring It Up to Your Apartment
Many families and recreational bicyclists just bring their beloved bikes to their place of residence to keep it safe when not in use. There are plenty of indoor bike racks that can be found on Taobao so that you can conveniently keep your bike where it won’t be in the way of normal day-to-day activities. Also, as another option, many apartment buildings have basements for easy and safe storage of your bike. These dusty caverns may not be the best places for maintaining clean gears and brakes, but this is a place most thieves dare not to go.
Save the Paperwork and Write Down the Serial Number
A couple of years ago a former Beijinger editor got extremely lucky when he found his fancy missing bicycle the day after it had been stolen at a popular used bike market in Beixinqiao (check out the story here). He decided the best course of action was to round up all proof he had on hand to show to the police before confronting the bicycle merchants with their assistance. We wouldn’t try approaching without backup as they have probably purchased your stolen bike from the thieves and would be reluctant to give it up without law enforcement officials present.
Customize Your Bike to Prevent Theft
This can be a fun way to dissuade prospective bike thieves. Why not give your fancy ride a creative, but somewhat messy camouflage to not only make it unique, but also to make it less re-sellable on the second-hand bike black market. Spend an afternoon together with your brood, covering your bikes with colored tape and various markings to give it a kind of Frankenstein look. While it won’t affect the performance, it will make a thief think twice before throwing it in the back of his van.
In conclusion, while most of us prefer this sort of public nuisance to that of getting robbed at knife point or worse, it goes without saying that theft is not fun. Theft is one of those facts of life that you must come to terms with when living in a city of this size. There’s a saying that you’re not a Beijinger if you haven’t lost any bikes. So maybe with each bike stolen you’re one step closer to becoming native.
Photos: trendhunterstatic.com, ebikeschool.com, bicyclecapetown.org, virascoop.com, taobao.com