Approaches to locking one’s bike are very different in Missoula compared to Vancouver BC (at left), where I lived the previous eight months. In fact, locking up one’s bike seems so unnecessary in Missoula that earlier this week, I did an informal survey of locking methods in two adjacent areas of bike parking. One is inside a semi-secluded courtyard, which has a gate to the street which is unlocked all day; the second is just outside the same courtyard on the street. Location undisclosed to protect the poor, defenseless little bikes.
Type of lock: Number of bikes present using method
Cable Lock: 6
No Lock: 3
Cable Lock: 3
No Lock: 0
Nearly the second I got to Vancouver, people started insisting that bike theft was a major problem. Indeed, the rack I parked my bike at every day was notorious for theft, and even had a plaque installed that advised “Cyclists: Park at Own Risk.” At first it just made me nervous, but a couple months in, I started looking at the other bikes and had a realization: the majority of bikes were locked by cable lock. Or as I like to call it, “take my bike…please!”
It blows my mind how many cyclists in Missoula seem to rely on the cable lock. Unlike Vancouver, cyclists don’t just ride crap bikes in case they’re stolen. And yet, the college town must be crime-free enough that in most cases, a cable lock keeps people honest.
And there’s an upside for me. I barely rode my Sweetpea while I was in Vancouver—instead, my early 80s Centurion was my daily commuter. When I was prepping for Missoula it became clear both bikes wouldn’t fit properly on the car rack at the same time. So I only brought the Sweetpea to Montana, and now have the whole summer to enjoy riding my beautiful, comfortable, made-for-me bike. Given I’m one of the few people taking the time to U-lock, I know many sacrificial lambs stand between me and my bike being carried away from me.
But I’m still going to be careful anyway.