Monday, August 12, 2013

Locked Up vs. Locked In

Sorry for the Monday post, after proclaiming Friday would be my posting day. I started this, and then got distracted, and then went out of town for the weekend! Whoops. 


Bike security is a meaningful issue for those of us who ride. I have had two bikes stolen in my life (lucky so few) and I'm very careful with my Linus and Trek bicycles. This means, generally, and whenever possible, they live inside, rather than outside. This protects them from inclement weather, as well as theft. What does this mean for me?

1. At Home. My bikes come inside with me. They don't live in my garage. I keep an "active" bike on the main level, and "dormant" bikes in my basement. This is also part of why I purchased a Linus "city" bike instead of a heavier, more traditional bike, like a Pashley or WorkCycles Oma (that, and I didn't want to take the >$1000 plunge until I had a better sense of which bike works to get me to work, around my neighborhoods, and out for fun - this may well end up being three different bikes).

2. At Work. My bike comes inside with me. I am fortunate to have my own office, and an area where I can stash my bike so it's out of the way.  This is in front of my credenza, which I face from my desk. I am in an older office building, which is probably the only reason I have enough room in my office for me, my desk, and my bike. Many newer offices are barely larger than cubicles. The rest of the office layout is such that I would have a hard time finding a place for my bike inside. In that case, I'd either have to find a place to lock up outside (on my surface lot or in front of my building); neither has a particularly appealing place to lock up. Maybe at a parking meter? So I'm thrilled Fleur can come inside. (The plastic on the seat is a super-sexy shower cap. See how I'm wearing white pants? Yeah, I rode in those. Not worth any chance the leather would bleed.)

3. At Church. Inside, again, most of the time. The first time I rode to church, I locked Fleur up outside, but there are no bike racks near my church (!!) and I was worried she was blocking a major entrance for people who need the accessible ramp, and that's no good. The second time, I took her upstairs (and way out of the way) and locked her to the upstairs railing. This is fine, but required me to shove her in the elevator, so the next time I was there for Sunday worship, the Children and Family Ministries Director suggested I stash it somewhere out of the way on the first floor, so now I do that on Sundays. I still lock her up, even though she is inside (you never know; I'm not worried about fellow congregants or well-meaning visitors, but there are people who abuse the safe and trusting environment of a church during worship time to look for unattended purses... and sometimes bikes*). I take a large enough bag to accommodate my helmet and her lights, which I remove any time she's parked outside, no matter how short the duration (lights and locks are the most important things to spend money on, after all). For evening meetings, and for choir practice this fall, she just sits in the room where I'm meeting or singing. On Sundays when I sing, I'll lock her up in the same manner I do for summer worship on Sundays. You'll all be tickled to know that my music director hums the "Wicked Witch of the West/Almira Gulch" music at me whenever he sees me arrive on two wheels. He thinks he's pretty hilarious. (OK. He's pretty hilarious.) In other news, I might have figured out my Halloween costume this year. 

4. Errands. I haven't done a ton of errands so far on Fleur, but when I have, she gets locked up outside the building where I'm "erranding". This has included meeting a fellow blogger for coffee in Webster Groves, and two trips to my nearest grocery store. No issues any of those times. My rules for outside lock-ups are this: (1) in a visible spot near a main door and (2) locked to something more substantial (read: harder to cut through) than my U-lock. I generally only use the U-lock, but remove the lights and anything else I wouldn't want to replace (e.g., I'm okay leaving the seat and mirror and bell, which would be hard to remove, and my wheels and seat are not quick-release, so I don't sweat those). I lock through the rear triangle so that my frame and my rear wheel (the more costly of the two to replace) are secure. I generally don't take my cable with me since I haven't grown terribly accustomed to parking Fleur outside where she'd need the extra security; I made this call after talking to some other bikers about their security measures. As I widen my area and ride more (hopefully in the fall), I'll probably start taking the second lock, but it seems largely redundant when you're not in a high-crime area, or perhaps when you are... if someone truly wants Fleur, they will take her, whether it takes them 30 seconds to cut through one lock or 60 seconds to cut through two. Part of item ownership is taking good care, but not being so attached to the item as to be unable to part with the thing. Also, I have a good set-up to ensure I always have my U-lock, and the cable isn't quite as convenient. You can see from the above photo, and in this detailed photo from a prior post that I tuck my U-lock in my rear-rack bungees. I keep the key on my keychain, which is on a carabiner, which I clip on my front basket while I'm riding, and onto my bag or person when I'm off the bike.  

5. Fun Rides/Exercise. When I ride to Grant's Trail, I ride to/from my house. No locking needed. When I ride on Creve Coeur Mill Trail or other more-distant trails, I drive to/from the trail and so the bike is in my car before and after the ride.

That's that, for now! Cheers and happy riding!

*Sadly, we've had folks wander in and take everything from wallets to gifts under Giving Trees that were purchased for poor families, including children's bicycles. So while I'm trusting, I'm also cautious. 

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