Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

Portland police will exchange a U-lock for your cable lock on Sunday

Posted by on June 23rd, 2016 at 10:41 am

hales lock

Mayor Charlie Hales on his way to work last fall.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

As bike theft has become the only major category of crime in Portland that’s on a long-term rise, cable locks have been going the way of the station wagon and the wristwatch.

The Portland State University Bike Hub doesn’t even sell them. When Mayor Charlie Hales briefly started biking to work last fall, Willamette Week wrote an entire online article about the fact that he used a cable lock. (His wife Nancy, a regular bike commuter, told us at the time that it was because they’d misplaced their U-lock keys that day.)

Apparently the Bike Theft Task Force at the Portland Police Bureau agrees. In a tweet on Wednesday, the team said they’ll be offering a lock exchange program at North Portland Sunday Parkways this weekend: you give them a cable lock, they give you a U-lock.

Advertisement

If you own a cable lock but not a U-lock, that’s a good deal.

(Thanks to Steve at the Portland Mercury for calling this to our attention.)

Update 2:30 p.m.: Portland Police Bureau Ofc. David Sanders, a member of the Bike Theft Task Force, writes to add some more details:

The BTTF was able to implement this cable lock upgrade program because of a partnership between Project 529 and Abus, and their dedication to reducing bike theft in Portland. They made it happen. Another example of the collaboration that is needed to fight this epidemic. We are also going to offer free bike registration through Project 529 at Sunday’s event, but the main emphasis of this event is proper locking techniques/bike security. We want the public to use U-locks so badly that we are literally giving them away. Hope that shows the public how serious we are about this. We hope that Sunday’s event will prevent many future thefts in Portland!

Project 529 worked with ABUS to work out the details on this program, we (PPB and PBOT funded this) were able to purchase the U-locks at significant discount through a local bike shop. We purchased about 300 locks and will offer a portion of these at Sunday’s event as well as other events around town, so this won’t be the only opportunity (unless we run out…).

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

75
Leave a Reply

avatar
22 Comment threads
53 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
38 Comment authors
Todd Boulangerwas carlessAdam H.SpiffySharon Smith Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Doug
Guest
Doug

Total condemnation of cable locks? I have a great big PLUS. They are a whole bunch lighter. If I stop at a grocery store in Castle Rock the cable lock is fine for 5 minutes.

I’m not lugging more than I have to, especially if I’m not really planning on stopping. I’ve always brought my bike inside pubs and restaurants in Portland.

I also tell time on a wrist watch and don’t see a ton of difference between a station wagon and SUV or crossover. Drove a Subaru station wagon for 15 years and we got along great, it was long enough so as to not have break down 9 foot fly rods. Stop trying to reinvent the wheel; wheel good already.

Lynne
Guest
Lynne

That is excellent! But also consider context – in PDX, bike theft is a problem. Outside of PDX, not so much. I don’t lock my bike anywhere outside of the UGB. When I solo toured from VA to NJ, I used the wimpiest cable lock ever (PACsafe), and really didn’t stress over it, except maybe in Annapolis – quickest trip possible through the 7-11! When I am in PDX, though, my bike is locked with a U-lock AND a sturdy cable looped through the front wheel/frame/rear rack.

Jonathan R
Guest

It’s weird that the same people who extol the flexibility of the bicycle as a transportation tool are so rigid when it comes to securing that bicycle. And if bicycle advocates can call for society to resolve the issue of traffic violence in bicyclists’ favor, why can they not also suggest some way to diminish the need to carry around 20 lbs. of locks and chains?

I wrote more about this exact subject at http://www.cityofjonathan.org/2016/bike-theft-and-fundamental-attribution-error/

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…the team said they’ll be offering a lock exchange program at North Portland Sunday Parkways this weekend: you give them a cable lock, they give you a U-lock.” bikeportland

Good idea, though I wonder how many U-locks Portland’s police dept can afford to hand out for free. If the PD’s bike u-lock campaign is being made possible in part by way of a generous contribution on the part of a u-lock manufacturer, or some other group, if would be worthwhile having some information about this.

Quick websearch shows that Abus U-locks may start out at about 25 bucks. Seems I’ve seen u-locks branded Bell, for around 15. There’s also the question of quality of theft resistance offered by u-locks of different price ranges, though generally, it seems that u-locks are better in this respect, and nevertheless, ‘free’ is a very good price. Still, people receiving the locks will hopefully receive with them, some info about the lock type’s limitations.

It’s an interesting point raised in this discussion section, that bikes outside of Portland, or I suppose, other metro areas as well, apparently are far less susceptible to the determination of thieves to steal them. I guess that could give some people confidence to leave their u-locks home when they decide to bike outside the city.

In the city, I don’t like to leave my bike unattended, locked or unlocked when I’ve gone to the store, for example, and so, to pick up just a few items, have found it very convenient to be able to take the bike into many businesses out here in Beaverton. Some businesses…Fred Meyer’s seems to be one, apparently have come to have problems with some people doing this; some of the company’s stores may be more actively using their store’s policy of ‘no bikes in store’, to stop the practice. I think it’s unfortunate that this is the only way some store managers have been able to figure out how to effectively deal with certain customers whose handling of their bikes in the store, poses a problem.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Portland police — stop the victim blaming! If I want to lock my bike with a cable lock, I should be able to, and I don’t appreciate the police telling me to use a “better” lock. It’s other people’s responsibility not to steal my bike.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

But actually, this is a pretty awesome idea.

Spiffy
Subscriber

the station wagon is going as strong as ever, but now they call it an SUV for marketing purposes…

kittens
Guest
kittens

This is smart of the PPD.

Security is everyone’s responsibility.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest
Kyle Banerjee

What would be nice is if there were bike lockers or other secure bike storage (even for pay). With a U lock, you can secure the frame and a wheel, but the rest of the bike can still get stripped.

A U lock is to security what cheapie blinky lights are to visibility. Definitely better than nothing, but you shouldn’t let them give you a false sense of security.

Roberta
Guest
Roberta

I walked out of Freddies a couple weeks ago and saw a guy hovering over my bike, when there was plenty of space on the rack. He apologized to me and rode away. He was threads away from cutting my cable lock. But he didn’t get it. I’ve been using another cable lock for now waiting to get a U Lock, and I will take advantage of the trade-in. Thanks Portland Police!

Nathan Hinkle (Bike Light Database and NearlyKilled.me)
Guest

Where on the route will this be taking place? I didn’t see it in the activity list in the SP brochure.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

Since when is it government’s role to subsidize the public’s purchase of a small-budget item, while, at the same time, reducing the income of already struggling bike shops?

Heather Miracle
Guest
Heather Miracle

I don’t even have a cable lock, I just park my bike and pray no one steals it

mran1984
Guest
mran1984

Maybe to transport five to six kids to a basketball game during the week and then facilitate that required escape to the forest on the weekends, but I am out of touch with most transplants and those who long for an dense, urban environment. Buy your own lock, btw.

Charles J. Mattouk
Guest

Both cables and you logs are useless when tied on city owned tubular bike stands. Had a guy walk up to the one in front of our shop and using a pipe cutter, he just cut a full notch in the stand and slid the bike lock right out. 10 seconds tops… Closer to 5 seconds.

Ken
Guest
Ken

So TAXPAYERS are footing the bill (yet again) for those who can’t take responsibilities for their own bikes?

John Liu
Subscriber

I’ve used U locks since the earliest Krytonite models, with the flat steel straps (mid 1970s). I don’t leave my bike locked outside overnight, or lock to flimsy stuff, or lock around just a wheel or similar misuse. And I’ve never had a bike stolen. We’re talking zero theft losses in forty years of locking up bikes.

Let’s be thankful for cable lock users, though. By offering up their bikes for easy theft, they encourage thieves to avoid our U locked bikes.

was carless
Guest
was carless

Honestly, just go to http://www.soldsecure.com/ and look up whatever lock you are thinking about buying. This company actually has rated hundreds of locks. Super heavy chains and u-locks tend to earn “bicycle gold” marks.

This website has a good writeup:

http://thebestbikelock.com/best-bike-lock/sold-secure-gold-bike-locks/

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

A few things:

– Not true that bike theft is a massive problem in Portland and not elsewhere. Besides notorious New York, every major American city has a major bike-theft problem. It’s less of a problem in rural areas, but in any city, watch out. Not just Portland.

– In in Canada right now, where I’ve spent a week on vacation, enroute to Portland. I spent most of the time In Banff and Canmore, resort towns with massive numbers of bikes, and never saw a U-Lock. The bike shop I rented from laughed at me when I asked about U-locks (even though they almost refused to rent to me because I was staying in a tent, allegedly due to theft risk at the campground). I’ve spent the last 24 hours in Calgary, a large city with high unemployment (due to low oil prices) and the usual share of big-city problems, but U-locks still appear to be in the minority here. I certainly saw some, but cables were more common. This may be due to Canada just generally having lower crime than the US.

– Cable locks have their place , just NOT as primary security. Yes of course – if you’re in any US metropolitan area, you should lock your bike frame and one of the wheels with a U-lock. But cable locks are still useful for locking the other wheel. Personally I use the Sheldon method, locking the rear wheel (inside the frame) to the rack, and then use a cable to lock the front wheel. As strident as the anti-cable message can be, I very rarely see a bike locked with two U-locks, which would be necessary if you’re never to use cables. Let’s get real, people.

Ape
Guest
Ape

Will this happen again? I just found out about it Monday morning, dangit.

Sharon Smith
Guest
Sharon Smith

Any chance they’ll be doing this program again? I didn’t find out about it until after it happened.

My cable lock is really heavy duty – & absurdly long- but I’d love to upgrade to a U-lock. But, I’m currently unemployed. My bike was already stolen once from my completely fenced-in backyard when I lived in Salem; I’d rather not lose it again. (I got seriously lucky that time. The thief had dropped it less than a block away & the next door neighbor spotted it.) I’d figured with the fence, no one could even see it so I didn’t have it chained to anything.

Todd Boulanger
Guest

For the complainers…

There are similar public education efforts by police departments for other private property items: such as handing out gun locks and “the Club” type car steering wheel ‘inablizers’. So the precedent has been set based on the problem at hand and a local community’s core values.

If this lock program becomes institutionalized …then it may be best to offer other bike shops a manageable process to bid on these bulk purchases in order to reduce any ill feelings about loss of trade. Yes there may be loss of profit from a single sale but volume should make up for it. As most recipients would likely keep using low value locks (i.e. ‘no sale’) until they need to replace their bike and accessories.

Now if the “complainers” are motivated by the loss of trade of replacing stolen bikes and accessories – then they have to look into their ‘heart of hearts’ as to what they are bringing to the community of cycling.