Lock up your bicycle. Every time.
Bicycles get stolen.
It's one of the most common thefts. I feel like I'm saying something that everyone knows. And yet again and again someone loses a bicycle.
"What kind of lock did you have on it?" is my first question. But the answer is usually, "I didn't have it locked up."
Lock up your bike, even if you live in a small town like Kirksville.
Last year my student research assistant lost her bike. "It was raining," she said, "I just wanted to get inside and get dry. I left it on the porch." She lives near campus. While I have seen bikes left sitting outside and unsecured for months at houses further away from campus, just rusting away, bikes are at high risk on or near college campuses.
Being an honest and law-abiding person who doesn't even go above the speed limit (unless I'm on my bike and the speed limit is very low, and then I'm just showing off), I don't understand bike thieves. So I can't predict bike theft and I feel very anxious about the security of my bike.
It's frustrating to arrive at a location and not find a place to lock up my bike. Sometimes I'll take my bike inside the store and check with a clerk, hoping they'll notice and stop anyone who tries to take it. The polling place rarely has a bike rack, and voting takes less time than it takes to lock up my bike. Last time I voted I left my bike standing just outside, not locked up. It was still there when I came back a couple minutes later. But that makes me so nervous I usually lock it up, even if it takes longer to find a place to lock it than the errand takes.
My daughter called me one day about her bicycle. "I had to take the wheel off to put air in," she explained, "because the pump on the repair stand is too high. But I couldn't get the wheel back on. I carried my bike to the car and put it on my bike rack."
"Um, did you lock it to your bike rack?" I asked. Sometimes I do that if I'm going to be in a store for a few minutes, but that is not a secure way to lock up your bike for hours.
"No," she answered. I didn't know what to say.
"Are you still there?" she asked.
"You may not have a bike anymore," I said carefully. By the time she called me, it had been there overnight.
"Who would take it?" she asked naively. "The rear wheel is locked in my car."
It is very common to see a front wheel, and nothing else, locked to a bike rack. People lock their front wheel to the bike rack, and come back out to find their bike gone and the front wheel still there. If a bike thief will take the front wheel off a bike to get the bike, a thief wouldn't think anything of taking a bike that wasn't locked up at all, even though it is missing the rear wheel.
Her bike was still there and she added a lock to it. I ought to have felt relieved, but it left me with a new worry that she doesn't respect the criminal element!
I've never had a bike stolen. I'm so anxious when my bike isn't secured that I'm diligent about locking up. I have had bike gloves stolen out of my helmet and a flat kit stolen out of my seat pack. Both of those happened on college campuses (neither were in Kirksville).
Register your bike at the police station and always lock it up. Never leave anything valuable in your seat pack-- but lack of value is no safeguard. Never leave anything unsecured that you'd mind losing!