There might be fewer people commuting and parking their bikes downtown these days, but unfortunately bike thieves are not working from home.
A BikePortland reader reached out to us over the weekend to share the sad news that their electric cargo bike had been stolen. They also sent a video and a brief description of how it happened. Bike theft is so common in Portland that I don’t share every one of them we hear about here on the Front Page unless there’s a notable circumstance.
This theft was notable for two reasons: First, it was captured on video; and second, the person who took the bike did so by first loosening the bolts that attached it to the sidewalk. As you can see in the video above, the thief calmy unscrews the bolts of the staple rack, then works the rack through the u-lock, leaves the rack on the ground, and rides off. The victim used a heavy-duty u-lock, but it didn’t matter.
Also notable about this theft is that the rack isn’t blue. This makes me wonder if it was a City of Portland rack or a rack installed by a private building owner. It matters because the standard, blue, Portland Bureau of Transportation staple racks were upgraded in 2017 with tamper-resistant bolts that are harder to unscrew.
This is so infuriating to see! Many Portlanders simply won’t lock up their bikes on a street due to fears of theft and it’s a problem don’t seem to have made much progress addressing over the years.
Unbolting bike racks is nothing new. We’ve covered the issue on several occasions over the years. It seems the best solution to this is to require that racks are sunk directly into the concrete so bolts are not required. If we installed racks this way they’d not only be impossible for thieves to unscrew, they’d also be much stronger bollards against careless drivers. (Then again, I could see thieves carrying around sledgehammers or concrete cutters, but I’d rather not think about that.)
We hope this person gets their excellent and clearly loved bike back. It’s a distinctive red Xtracycle longtail with white accents and a relatively uncommon Nomad Cycles mid-drive motor. See more in this Reddit thread.