By Claire Bachand,
Last year, after volleyball practice at Davis High, junior Emily Perry meandered into the bike racks– tired after a long day and ready to go home– only to find that her bike, which she had left there the night before, was gone. Her wheel, locked to the rack, was all she had left. Unable to ride the lonesome wheel home, she called her mom for a ride.
“We found my bike the next day when my mom saw a homeless man who had my bike with him, and my mom called the cops who talked to the man and got my bike back,” Perry said.
Perry, along with many other DHS students, has relied on her bike for transportation. However, with the bike-friendly nature of Davis comes a high demand for the vehicle, and rampant theft. Unlike Perry, most students are never able to recover their bikes.
According to “Davis Bike Theft Analysis,” a report completed by the city’s active transportation specialist, Jimmy Fong, an average of 344 bikes are reported stolen in Davis each year. The average value of these bikes is $491.
The report cites schools, downtown Davis, the Davis Amtrak station and apartment complexes as bike theft hot spots.
Adam Smith, an employee at Ken’s Bike and Ski, says that he hears of one or two stolen bikes each day and that bikes are commonly stolen from schools after being left overnight.
“The best thing you can do for your bike–if it’s an inexpensive bike or an expensive bike, if the bike is important to you–is a strong lock. Sometimes people get a little scared by prices of locks, but if you look at it as an investment into your bike, you know, you’ll have it for a lifetime, it’s to protect [that] investment,” Smith says. “The hope is that your level of deterrent will be too much work for the bike thief and that they’ll go somewhere else, to a smaller, less secure bike.
Smith recommends either a U-lock or a chain lock, pointing out that a mere cord lock can be cut easily. He also says that when locking a bike, it is important to lock it through its frame–not its wheel.
As Perry learned the hard way, bike wheels can be easily removed. Many bikes have quick release wheels, and Smith says that in order to protect these wheels, they must be locked to the rack along with the frame.
As a freshman at Holmes Junior High, senior Ming Liu had his bike stolen twice. The first time, he left his bike at the Yolo County Library over the weekend, and the second time, he left his new bike at Holmes overnight.
Liu expected his bike to be safe overnight at Holmes because he had seen many other bikes left there overnight.
“When I came that morning, I saw that it was just the frame. All the wheels were missing and the handlebars were missing. Literally just the frame,” Liu said. “I was like, What! In Davis? I thought Davis was a bike friendly town.”
After Liu’s new $60 bike from Wal-Mart was stolen he stopped riding his bike.
“Anyone could go during the night and just cut it with bike shears, or just unscrew the wheels and take them,” Liu said. “I was like screw this, I’m not going to waste another 60 bucks so I just bought a bus pass.”
Perry, on the other hand, has stopped leaving her bike places overnight, and now locks her bike through its frame.