UTPD: Proper bike lock use can prevent bike theft

Wynne Davis

Fifteen out of 17 bicycles that have been reported as stolen since the semester began in January were locked using a cable lock, according to William Pieper, University of Texas Police Department officer.

“Most cable locks can be easily cut by a pair of wire cutters, which are small and easy to carry,” Pieper said. “Bicycle thieves find it easy to conceal such tools while walking up to a bike rack, cut a lock and ride off.”

Cable locks are lightweight and easy to use, which is why a lot of students prefer to use them, but Pieper said they do not provide the best security for bikes.

Jeremy Hernandez, bicycle coordinator for Parking and Transportation Services, said the more resistant U-locks are the best option for students wanting to secure their bikes on campus.

“A cable lock can simply be cut with a hand tool … but, if you use a U-lock, … [the thieves] will have to get a power tool involved, and those are very loud, cause a lot of commotion,” Hernandez said.

When securing bikes to racks or other fixtures, Hernandez said students should lock more than just the frame of the bike. Thieves will steal parts of the bike, such as the seat or a single tire, if they cannot get away with the entire thing, according to Hernandez.

“You always need to incorporate the back tire and the frame to what you’re locking it to or the front tire and the frame and what you’re locking it to,” Hernandez said. “When you just lock the frame you’re still really exposed.”

Students can purchase U-locks at any of the University parking garages. Hernandez said the University also provides more parking alternatives for students who wish to keep their bikes in bike lockers in the garages.

Chemical engineering senior Zack Dotson said he has had two of his bikes stolen during his time at UT. One of the thefts occurred on campus when the bike was secured to a pole with a cable lock in front of the Recreational Sports Center. Dotson said he decided to use a cable lock around campus for convenience and a U-lock when he locked his bike at home.

“I used to place the U-lock on the bar in between the seat and the handlebar while riding, however, that messed up the brake system, and that … significantly scratched the bike,” Dotson said. 

Hernandez said the options for students when locking their bikes is to use one of the racks provided on campus so bikes are grouped together and out of the way for pedestrians and potential thieves looking to steal one during the day.

In order to inform more students about the best practices when it comes to bike security, the BikeUT program offers bike safety courses and seminars throughout each semester, according to Hernandez.  

Instead of using a single lock, Pieper said students should consider double-locking their bike with both a U-lock and a cable lock.

“U-locks require a prying device which is long and more difficult to carry,” Pieper said. “Using a quality U-lock and a cable lock at the same time provides even better protection as a thief would need to carry two different tools and spend more time defeating two different types of locks.”