After we posted our first Bicycling Shus blog we got some questions on Facebook and twitter about BIKE LOCKS! One of the questions was:
"I'd like to know how they keep all those bikes from getting stolen!"
The answer is...they get stolen!
There are approximately 18 million bicycles in the Netherlands and the number stolen per year fluctuates between 450,000-750,000. Note that these are only the reported numbers from municipalities and police, with only 1 in 3 thefts actually reported.
Most people don't report the bicycle theft because it's seen as a waste time if police won't investigate anyway. Not unlike this moment in The Big Lebowski, perhaps?
Three ways to help prevent Bicycle theft (dutch style)
1. Lock your bicycle in a private garage/shed, paid/guarded bicycle parking (Fietsenstalling), or take it into your apartment (if that's even possible...usually not here due to narrow, steep stairwells). If nobody can see it while walking by it makes it a less obvious target and maybe not worth a thieves time or energy. This of course only really works for overnight at home, and most bicycle are stolen while you stop briefly to get groceries or something away from home.
2. Make your bicycle a spray painted glowing piece of metal garbage on wheels covered in fake plastic flowers and Dora the Explorer stickers. So ugly that it in fact could never be resold...EVER by anyone and will soon rust into oblivion. This is an idea... but sometimes bicycles are stolen out of convenience so you still may walk out of your favourite snack shop to see that your radioactive neon yellow barnacle encrusted trash mobile missing from its resting place. RIP street urchin bicycle.
3. AXA wheel lock + Chain around frame and front wheel, attached to immovable object. These locks are already on most city bicycles you purchase here, you have a key that releases a ring through the wheel and between the spokes, preventing the bicycle from rolling. This is good for quick stops in places where you don't really need to chain up. But a thief could still carry it or roll it away on front wheel, hence the need for a chain also to lock the frame and front tire to something. Check out the AXA Defender!
The City of Amsterdam provides free bicycle engraving on Wednesdays where you bring an ID card and they will etch a registration code into the frame. Making it less likely to be stolen...I think? Take a look here for more info on this (in Dutch) or watch this video from Amsterdamize:
I will be sure to post our experience when one of our bicycles does inevitably get stolen! Ha!
Until then please let me know if you any additional questions about bicycle life over here in the Netherlands. I would be happy to research and answer any questions you may have.