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Sorry bike thieves, PBOT’s new — more secure — staple racks are finally hitting the streets

Posted by on April 28th, 2017 at 11:34 am

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The first of a new generation — and hopefully a new era of bike theft prevention.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Portland just raised their game when it comes to providing people with a secure place to park a bicycle.

As we reported just over one year ago, the Bureau of Transportation updated their standard design for city-issued staple racks. Now that the existing stock of old ones has been used up, this week marked the first time one of the new racks went in. We heard the first one to be bolted onto the sidewalk was in north Portland (corner of N Bryant and Interstate) so we rolled over to check it out this morning.

To the untrained eye (and to people without x-ray vision), it doesn’t look like much. But under the hood of this unassuming curved piece of blue steel are some serious bike theft prevention measures.

The differences between the new racks and the old ones include: a flat, steel crossbar; a braided wire cable that floats inside the main pipe; and a requirement to have deeper concrete foundations for the bolts and feet of the rack. (View the official design drawings here.) The crossbar will make it harder for thieves to slip a lock off the rack (something that can be done if the legs are unscrewed or the main pipe is cut) and the internal cable will make it much harder to saw through the main pipe.

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“It will take much more effort, forethought, strength, and tool power to defeat this new design,” PBOT Communications Director John Brady told us last year.

According to PBOT’s bike parking manager Scott Cohen, Portland currently has about 7,000 blue staple racks installed on sidewalks and in bike corrals throughout the city. They add and replace them to the tune of about 300 to 400 per year; so it will take several years before the entire stock is updated to this new version.

And it should go without saying, that you shouldn’t rely on anything — or anyone — to make your bike secure. You must have good locking practices, use a high-quality lock, and most importantly, make sure your bike is registered. Learn about all this stuff and more at PBOT’s EndBikeTheft.org website.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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27 Comments
  • One April 28, 2017 at 11:55 am

    I’m interested in buying (ASAP) two staple racks for my home. Any idea what the city is doing with the old ones? Could I buy two used ones? I would prefer to buy used over spending $99 each on Amazon.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 28, 2017 at 11:58 am

      Keep in mind that PBOT isn’t getting rid of the old ones… they would only remove an existing rack and replace it with one of these if the old rack was damaged or broken. And I don’t think they sell them directly to the public.

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      • 9watts April 28, 2017 at 2:38 pm

        I guess then I don’t understand this statement then.:
        “They add and replace them to the tune of about 300 to 400 per year”

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        • Spiffy April 28, 2017 at 5:09 pm

          they add the new style racks…

          if an old style rack gets damaged beyond use it gets replaced with a new style rack…

          there are no unused old style racks… all of them are installed…

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          • 9watts April 28, 2017 at 5:37 pm

            3-400 wear out every year?!

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            • Alan 1.0 April 28, 2017 at 6:52 pm

              Vandalized. Cut for theft. Stolen for scrap. And the other 390 run over by cars.

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              • 9watts April 29, 2017 at 8:56 am

                If that is true, then I would think this would be an excellent angle for a story:

                The ratio of car infrastructure destroyed by biking/bikes: bike infrastructure destroyed by driving/cars. Around here (inner SE) I certainly see plenty of bike staple racks that have been backed into or run over or ripped out by horseless carriages. Gives a different gloss to the ‘don’t pay their way.’

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              • Alan 1.0 April 29, 2017 at 9:36 am

                It’s alternatively true.

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  • Justin M April 28, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Wonderful. I love the new design. It was heartbreaking reading about all those thefts. It’s important though to mention that most of the people who come into the shop and say their bikes were stolen had them stolen from their property. Garage break-ins, sheds, backyards and porches. Even from “secure” bike parking. A number of companies make things to bolt into the floor or onto the wall to secure your bike at home. Be sure to register your bikes with bike index, take pictures, and file a police report if your bike is stolen.

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    • John Lascurettes April 28, 2017 at 12:55 pm

      Good advice. Oh man, that reminds me, I don’t think I registered my n+1 that I bought last year.

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    • Spiffy April 28, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      I lock my bike to itself in my locked garage… at least they’ll have to carry it away if they break in…

      once I get my garage organized this summer I should buy a couple staple racks to lock the nice bikes to… that’d slow them down even more…

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  • SilkySlim April 28, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Saw one of these in front of my office (NW park blocks) today! Good stuff.

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  • Patrick April 28, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Who is the manufacturer?

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  • todd boulanger April 28, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    This is very good news. Thank you PBoT for taking our constructive design criticism to heart. (Now we need a public test!)

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  • todd boulanger April 28, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    Jonathan – would you clarify this point made in the article:
    “They add and replace them to the tune of about 300 to 400 per year; so it will take several years before the entire stock [of 7000] is updated…”

    Either it is going to take over 20 years to replace them all [not “several years” = ~3 years} OR else PBoT is replacing 3000 to 4000 racks a year. [I doubt it is the latter.]

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  • Matheas Michaels April 29, 2017 at 9:26 am

    oh man that is so great!

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  • Charley May 1, 2017 at 12:25 am

    Those look BOMBER. Way to go!

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  • Smokey Bear May 1, 2017 at 12:44 am

    Can’t tell what type of bolts are holding the blue rack down. It looks like a standard hex allen wrench – easy to defeat. Of course, if the cyclist uses a cable lock that will be even easier to defeat.

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    • Vinny May 1, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      “Bolt: 1/2″ diameter x 1-1/4″ long pin hex button socket security bolt, or approved equal.”

      $10 will get you a cheap security bit set that fits the bolt. Still better than a standard bolt I suppose.

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      • SilkySlim May 2, 2017 at 10:52 am

        I wish they would go one step further, cementing (or something similar) over the bolt head. At that point, theft would be one heckuva ordeal: chipping away the cement, unbolting using specialty tool, and then still having the new staple lock fully attached, with that extra bonus cord inside too.

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        • lyle w May 2, 2017 at 11:59 am

          Or just covering the bolt slot with some silicone or other rubbery substance people can apply and remove with a non-toxic corrosive spray/liquid, etc.

          So it’s not hard to get off, but you gotta be walking around with a bottle of WD-40, methyl ethyl or likewise. On top of the two tools to cut the pipe and cable, etc…

          Yeah, there will be that person out there, but it’ll be rare, and he’ll be looking for a really expensive bike.

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  • rf May 2, 2017 at 7:57 am

    It’s a shame the graphic shows a bike being locked with front wheel and frame. Would of been pretty great if they did the Sheldon Brown back wheel u lock method. People will lose their back wheel if they follow the image.

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    • Alan 1.0 May 3, 2017 at 12:48 am

      i. http://www.cyclelicio.us/2011/sheldon-lock-video/
      ii. locking skewers
      iii. my ulock won’t fit around my wheel and most staples

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    • Skid May 8, 2017 at 12:05 am

      There’s a youtube video of somoen using a cheap hacksaw to cut through the tire tube and rim in less than 30 seconds, thus defeating the Sheldon method. He was right about a lot of things, but locking your bike without the lock around one frame tube is not one of them.

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  • Patrick McMahon June 9, 2017 at 8:10 am

    I’m surprised that they didn’t chose to use square tubing as well to make the new rack even more theft resistant. Seems like an odd choice.

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