Cities are graveyards for stolen bikes, with bent wheels and ragged frames hanging off anything nailed to the ground, sometimes with a sawed-through bike lock lying in plain sight. The air is thick with the ghosts of bikes that were stolen completely — Fujis, Treks, Surlys. You can almost hear their cute little bells ringing, warning you to get the hell out of the bike lane. Estimates for stolen bikes in North America range from 800,000 to two million per year. Moreover, they’re challenging to get back because most people don’t write down serial numbers, register their bikes or even report a theft to police (and stolen bike recovery isn’t exactly law enforcement’s number one priority, either).
When it comes to bike locking etiquette, there are several tips that will keep your sweet ride out of the hands of thieves, and safe from harm. (There are also a few ways you should never lock your bike.) First tip: consider locking your bike in a busy, crowded area with plenty of other bikes locked up — the more eyes on your bike, the less likely it is to be stolen, and the more bikes crammed into one area, the harder it is to pull one out of the shuffle. Second, lock your bike to an immovable object and make sure if you're using a cable lock, to wrap it as many times you can for extra security. Third, always lock your frame to an immovable object — otherwise, you're going to be left with a sad, solitary wheel for transportation. If you're using a U-hook, try to fill as much of the space as possible, so that thieves can't get the proper leverage they need to saw it open. If you're security-focused (and perhaps jaded from a past robbery) consider using two locks
The good news is that with a serious bike lock, proper locking technique and the good sense to take the darn thing inside at night, you can prevent your bike from becoming a statistic. Remember that no lock is safe in all places — take into account where you’re leaving your bike, what type of lock you’re using and how long you’ll be gone for. Bike thieves are opportunists, and they’ll calculate quickly they can nab a bike against how valuable it looks. If your favorite beat-up commuter is firmly secured and there’s a nice-looking ride with a flimsy cable lock on the next rack over, chances are you’re safe.