How Safe Are Bike Racks Versus Human Determination?



I ride mostly at night. I joke on my Strava profile it’s so no one will see me gasping for air, which is partially true, but also because of my work schedule. I’ll bike downtown using the Metropolitan Branch Trail, ride around the National Mall or wherever my wheel turns, then head back north the way I came. Usually, I’ll make a quick stop at Union Station, to refill my water bottle or relieve the fluids from my body.

It’s usually after standard business hours so there’s not many people there. It’s dark, but it’s peaceful. I’ll u-bolt my bike to a bike rack, which usually has several others there. Then one evening I see one of the bike racks lying on its side, another one with one leg out the ground, and a bike missing all its wheels.

Union Station Bike Rack

The bike racks are tucked away in the corner, away from what traffic there may be coming out the Metro station. The only reason to be back in that corner other than locking up your bike is to smoke a cigarette, relieve yourself because you don’t want to go inside to the bathroom, or perhaps to find a new bike.

Since then I haven’t left my bike unattended as often. I upgraded my lock, started using the coil and flex cable together, and find the most public place to lock up my bike if I have to walk away for a moment. But I can’t help but to wonder what chance any of these gadgets or efforts stand against someone who really wants that bike?

Such a shame.

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