While finding a place to park your bike is easier than ever, (thanks to bike corrals and racks all over the city) bike theft is still a problem. Learn how to lock your bike correctly so your can protect your ride. And find out how to bring your bike into the office, so you donít have to leave it locked outside all day.
Getting around the city by bicycle is generally free and easy, but the cloud of bike theft is always hanging overhead -- unfortunately, bicycles are very easy to steal, and they make the perfect getaway vehicle. You can't make your bike absolutely theft-proof on the street (and even indoors isn't always as secure as you'd think), but with some thought and preparation you can protect your bike and lock it up with confidence.
Bike Theft and You — What You Can Do
The vast majority of bike thefts on San Francisco take place from a garage (especially shared garages). Thieves can take their time scouting their opportunities and sawing through locks and otherwise ripping off bikes.
If you can, consider storing your most valued bicycle inside your home, not your garage. If you must store your bike in a garage, use a high-quality U-lock or motorcycle lock and lock your bike to something. In commercial garages, park within sight of an attendant.
Short-term parking on the street
Make sure you've got the right gear, and don't bother with half-measures. A cable lock is not enough! Cable locks are just too easy to cut — always lock your frame with a high quality U-lock or a heavy NYC chain and secure your wheels. Get rid of any U-lock with a round barrel key — these locks can be broken into easily by an experienced thief.
Find an appropriate fixed object (bike rack, meter post, etc) to lock your bike to, with a closed top (so your bike & lock can't just be lifted off). Don't lock your bike to a pole or post that is loose in the ground. Thieves may have loosened it themselves.
Make sure to fill up as much space inside the "U" as possible with poles, posts, and your frame and wheel. Leaving empty space gives room for a thief to pry open your lock.
And don't just lock the wheel! learn to park your bike as securely as you can
Don't forget swipe-able bike parts
You may have your frame and wheels locked up tight, but thieves are also happy to steal parts off your bike, such as lights, wheels, seats and seat posts. Be sure to remove lights and speedometers when parking your bike. Replace quick-releases with other types of skewers. learn more
The safest place to park your bike during the workday is probably right in the office with you. San Francisco now has a law requiring building owners & managers to allow tenants to bring bikes into commercial buildings. Learn more about the Tenant Bicycle Access law here.
Protect your bike by registering it
While registering your bike won't keep it from being stolen, it greatly aids in its return to you if it is recovered by the police. The police will not give you back your bike unless they have proof that it belongs to you. In addition, it helps the police identify and locate the proper owner. Options include the National Bike Registry and the Stolen Bicycle Registry.
Self-register your bike
Record your bike's serial number and other descriptive info and store in a safe place. Use our freezer registration form to record the serial number and description of your bicycle. Then store the form in a safe and memorable place (such as in a zip lock bag in your freezer.)
What to do if your bike has been stolen
First, report it to the police. According to SFPD Investigators, it is best to file a report in-person at the station closest to where the bike was stolen. If you would prefer, you can file a theft report online but it will take up to a week or more for investigators and officers to receive details of the theft. Provide simple descriptive information (and a photo if you can) and your serial number, if you have it. If you remember any distinctive marks, such as scratches, include those in the description. The San Francisco Police Department is linked to the national database of stolen property, so if your bike were to turn up in the hands of any law enforcement agency in the nation, you'll receive a phone call.