Bicycle thefts are a great nuisance for cyclists but what can be done to stop them? We have taken a look at the two most prominent bicycle nations: the Netherlands and Denmark.
Bicycle thefts happen in all countries and all cities
It is undoubtedly very annoying to have your bicycle stolen. Maybe the bike should have been secured better with an extra lock – or should city public spaces contain facilities, which to a larger extent would protect people’s bicycles against theft?
Part of the freedom of cycling is the ease with which the bike is locked and left. The lever slides through the spokes and the bicycle is locked through the back wheel. That’s how we do it in Denmark, whereas the Dutch, to a larger extent, use several locks and prefer to lock the bicycle to the bicycle stand or another permanent object.
It is not in the Danish tradition to do anything special when it comes to preventing bicycle thefts, whether it is the cyclists themselves or the public sector. The most widely used bicycle stands do not make it possible to lock the bike to it easily with your own bicycle lock. And there are not many public spaces for cycle parking where the bike can be locked inside. Apparently there is no great demand either since few bring an extra lock and previous offers of locked cycle parking spaces at train stations were not widely used. Occasionally the public sector will have campaigns against bicycle theft where extra bicycle locks are handed out to cyclists.
In contrast to this, the bicycle stands that are used in the Netherlands usually have the possibility of locking the bike to them. In the street a very simple design is used where a bicycle lock is easily attached to the bicycle stand.
Where is the bike stolen from?
There are also similarities between the Netherlands and Denmark. The favourite place for the bicycle thief to carry out his work is at people’s homes. A Danish insurance company has estimated that two thirds of the stolen bicycles are taken from private residences as opposed to the place that is thought by many to be the worst: the train station from where only 10 per cent of the bikes are stolen at the most. The same tendency can be seen in the Netherlands – according to ”The Foundation For Tackling Vehicular Crime” about half of bicycle thefts take place in residential areas as opposed to about 20 per cent at train stations.
In the Netherlands the challenge of bicycle parking has a completely different starting point than in Denmark. Whereas in Denmark small initiatives are taken where bicycle parking is created where there is room, the Dutch create the space specifically to build on. Such facilities have the built-in advantage that it is possible to secure them against theft, either by video surveillance or by manning the facilities, which according to ”The Foundation For Tackling vehicle Crime” drastically reduces bicycle thefts.
Just like in Denmark, the Netherlands is limited by how many resources the police use on solving bicycle thefts. In the Netherlands it is presumed that half of the bicycle thefts are a part of organised crime. This is based on, amongst other things, the 250 so-called Bait-bikes, which with a Trek and Trace function have been placed on the streets 900 times. The effort has led to the arrest of 600 bicycle thieves who could be tracked after having stolen a Bait-bike.
Who is the greatest bicycle thief – the Dutch or the Danes?