How safe is your bike?

This entry was posted by Rob on Thursday, 9 October, 2008 at


Rule of thumb, if you want to decrease your chances of someone stealing your bike, lock it up. But realistically, if someone really wants to go to the trouble, they can easily clip the chain and be on their way. I have even seen people lock the front tire of the bike and then have someone unhook the rest of the frame an steal everything except the secured front tire. They need a new front tire, you need a whole new bike.

But a rather ingenious safe city gauge has come out of Buenos Aires. The basis of the test is “How long will an unchained bicycle last on a city street before someone steals it?” How safe is your city or neighborhood?

“It’s not a statistic but in a way it shows that the places where the bicycle gets robbed really quickly perhaps the quality of life is poorer,” said Mariano Pasik of Argentina.

Hidden cameras monitor the bait, which is a cheap bicycle, unsecured, laying out in the open. His hypothesis is the longer the bike remains in place before it is stolen, the safer the area is.

Pasik edits the video footage, blurs the thieves’ faces, puts it to music and posts the results to his website. Pasik runs his own publicity firm called Liebre Amotinada Ideas (Mutinous Hare Ideas), and says this safe neighborhood project is “part art, part reality show, part journalism and part fun.”

“What you see on the videos is that they aren’t professional thieves, they aren’t people who went out to rob. They are people who ran into temptation and decided to commit a crime, they become thieves at the moment they take the bike,” Pasik says.

“The popular fantasy is that the bike will be stolen in seconds, and it isn’t quite like that,” Pasik said.

In a recent video, a bike lasted only a few short minutes on the upscale shopping street of Santa Fe, while another lasted a whole hour without being stolen in the unsavory Constitucion neighborhood.

A neighborhood “passes” Pasik’s bicycle test if an hour passes, the filmer gets tired or the camera runs out of batteries. Pasik hopes other videographers around the world will join his nonprofit “Bicycle Test” project and help create a worldwide insecurity index.

Fans of his site have already offered free bait bicycles and some have sent in test footage from Uruguay and Spain.

The thieves from these videos are often more opportunists than hardened criminals. “You see the person thinking and thinking and thinking, coming and going. Sometimes they talk by phone. They go away. They come back. It’s more about an internal dilemma between good and bad, than about the bicycle itself,” Pasik says.

Another interesting fact, so far in Pasik’s Bicycle Test, a woman has yet to steal a bike on film…

As a side story of note. Did you see the one about the guy who got busted stealing an unchained bike next to a police station in Fargo, ND? Apparently some guy was in detox at the station, and his bike was put into the bike rack outside of the police station. So while a cop is outside doing some paperwork in his patrol car, he sees this other guy walking down the street, approach the bike rack, grab the bike and attempt to take off. He tried to plead his case that it was in fact his bike, but the cop wasn’t buying the story.

Come on guy. That’s almost like trying to steal a donut in a donut shop.

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