Bike Theft Task Force returns with popular u-lock exchange program

After receiving a new u-lock, this woman learned how easy it is to cut her old one.(Photos: Portland Police Bureau)

After receiving a new u-lock, this woman learned how easy it is to cut her old one.
(Photos: Portland Police Bureau)

Last month’s inaugural U-lock? U-Rock! exchange was so popular that the Portland Police Bureau’s Bike Theft Task Force (BTTF) ran out of locks within the first hour.

“Before we even got set up, there was a line. We could not keep up with the demand,” Portland Police Bureau Officer Dave Sanders wrote in a debrief. “At one point, there was a line of cyclists a block long and so many people congregating around our tents, that it was interfering with other organizations.”

Officer Sanders and a crew of volunteers (more are needed!) and city partners will be prepared for the onslaught this Sunday when the program returns for Sunday Parkways Northeast.

The idea behind the exchange program is simple: Sanders and his partner on the bike theft beat, Officer Dave Bryant, have seen way too many bikes stolen due to the use of cable locks because they’re easily snipped by thieves. Using a good quality u-lock is one of the best things riders can do to prevent bike theft.

To receive a free u-lock, participants must bring in a used cable lock and their bicycle. Registration with Project 529 (free) can be done at the event and is also required to get a lock. As a bonus, anyone who exchanges an old cable lock will get the chance to cut it with a pair of bolt cutters.


Officers Sanders and Bryant said about 600 people came by their booth and they’ve received national interest for the program with several other cities wanting to implement something similar.

U-lock recipients also learn proper locking technique.

The Task Force gave away 50 u-locks and registered 350 bikes at June’s Sunday Parkways event — all of which was made possible thanks to a partnership with Project 529 (whose CEO, J Allard, is a founding member of the task force) and ABUS, the lock maker. They plan to continue the program until they run out of locks (they were only able to afford 300 of them, purchased at a reduced price).

If you missed out they’ll have another batch of locks to give away at Sunday Parkways Northeast that opens this Sunday at 11:00 am. The Bike Theft Task Force booth will be at the southwestern tip of NE Oneonta Street adjacent to Woodlawn Park.

Due to the popularity of this program, the BTTF needs some help! Please consider giving us a hand on Sunday. If you can volunteer just drop us a line and we’ll get you set up. Or, you can just show up at the booth at 10:00 am on Sunday morning.

Learn more about the U-lock? U-Rock! program on the Bike Theft Task Force website.

Disclaimer: BikePortland is a (proud) member of the task force.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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