Cyclists can reduce the chances of their bikes being stolen if they use a good lock and locking techniques. Cyclists can also take precautionary measures to assist in the recovery of a stolen bicycle.

  • Write down your serial number (usually on the underside of the bottom bracket) and register your bike with the Toronto Police. It’s also very helpful to have a picture of your bicycle and, if possible, the original sales receipt. Keep a detailed description of your bike on hand.
    • Make/model
    • Size/colour
    • Date/place of purchase
    • Value
    • Distinctive features
  • If you’re thinking about cycling to work, school or a transit, try to research and visit the amenities first. 
  • Always use a U-lock. Never use only a cable lock. Ideally use both.
  • Lock your wheels and frame together.
  • Use a bike rack (sign poles, trees, fences are not as secure).
  • When possible, do not park your bike on the sidewalk or street overnight.
  • Lock your bike in a well-lit and well-traveled area.
  • Take lights and other easily removed items with you.

  • U-locks provide a greater deterrence to theft when compared with cable locks.
  • Utilizing two different locks provides an added level of security (ex. u-lock for the front wheel and frame and a heavy duty cable lock for the rear wheel and frame).
A cyclist uses a U-lock to lock to a bike rack. These locks provide a higher level of security when compared to a cable lock alone.
Example of a u-lock attaching the bicycle frame to the rack.

 

 

A cyclists uses a U-lock to lock to a rack and a cable to secure both wheels.
Example of a cyclist using a u-lock to secure the frame and a cable lock attached to the u-lock for the wheels.

Best racks to use

  • If possible, select a bike rack with at least two points of contact and allow the frame and wheels to both be locked.
  • Ensure the bike rack is securely fastened to the ground or wall.
  • Avoid wheel bender racks and other racks that make locking the frame to the rack impossible (in the fourth photo the 3 bikes using the rack have chosen the end of the rack to secure their frames).
  • Visible racks in busy areas further deter bike theft.

Optimal bike racks

bicycle locked up to a multi-bike rack. These racks provide space to secure the bike and lock the frame
This multi-bike rack provides two points of contact and allows the frame to be locked to the rack. This user is using a cable lock to further secure their wheels.

 

A bicycle is locked to a Toronto Post and Ring. The rack provides a convenient place to lock the frame and a wheel providing additional safety
Toronto post and rings provide a convenient and space efficient place to lock your bicycle. The bicycle can rest against the rack and it provides space to easily lock the frame.

 

Racks to avoid

A bicycle parking rack that only allows locking to the wheel and not the frame
This rack, also called a wheel bender, provides space to easily lock the wheel to the rack only. Wheels can be removed making the bike less secure than if the frame was the point being locked. Without a point of contact for the frame the bicycle is also less secure in the rack, which could cause the wheel to warp or bend over time.

 

A bicycle rack that only provides space for locking the wheel and not the frame. The 4 bikes in this photo are using the exterior of each rack to lock their frames.
Similar to the wheel bender rack, this rack also provides space to easily lock the wheel only. As seen in this photo the majority of the bikes locked to this rack are using the end points of the rack to lock their bicycle frames to the rack. This shows an unintended use of the rack and the preference of cyclists to lock their bicycles more securely.

Best locations to use

If you are parking your bicycle for more than a couple hours or overnight it is best practice to use a more secure facility. The outdoor racks shown above are meant for short-term use. Secure long-term facilities can include individual bike lockers or indoor bike rooms. You can check with your building to see if these amenities are provided or apply for a City Bike Locker or Bicycle Station membership.

  • Capture the date and time, and photos.
  • If applicable, make sure it wasn’t locked to private property and removed by the property owner or manager, or if temporarily abandoned on the street, it may have been collected by the City.
  • Report it to the police by phone or online.
  • Inform your insurance company (if applicable).
  • Check online:
    • Ebay, Kijiji, craigslist
    • If you think you found your bike do not attempt to contact the seller yourself, always alert the police.
  • Spread the word:
    • The more eyes looking out for your bike the better
    • If your bike is unique to a certain type of cycling you can try listing it on community websites and forums.
    • Use social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to increase overall awareness.
  • Inform your local bike shops
    • Provide them with the details of your bike, along with a picture, in case someone brings it into their shop for repair or to sell.