Our Work Addressing Theft

Editors: This story was originally published in Issue 162 of our quarterly Tube Times magazine, one of many perks of membership in the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

The sinking feeling in your stomach as you approach the rack where you locked your bike only to find it nowhere in sight. The confusion that quickly turns to panic and then anger. Weighing your options and next steps: is it even worth filing a police report? The mental math of tallying the costs of a replacement bike.

At the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, we know that bicycle theft is the second most commonly cited reason for why more people don’t ride in our city, trailing only safety concerns. To grow the number of people choosing to bike, we need to continue to demand action and find real solutions to addressing bicycle theft.

Beyond the preventative measures discussed below, what else can be done?

The SF Bicycle Coalition believes in enforcement strategies targeting theft that have been demonstrated to be effective. Community policing strategies can reduce the incidence of property crime like bicycle theft. Police also need to dedicate resources to the thorough investigation of theft as part of a dedicated unit, otherwise bicycle theft falls down their list of priorities.

Two SF Supervisors stepped forward this summer to propose enforcement-based policies. Supervisor Jeff Sheehy introduced a bill that defined and targeted open air chop shops, assemblages of five or more bicycles or bicycle parts in the public right of way. Supervisor Hillary Ronen proposed directing the San Francisco Police Department to alter their centralized approach to investigating and enforcing neighborhood property crimes, particularly bike theft, by creating task forces based at each police station. After listening carefully to the concerns of our members along the way the SF Bicycle Coalition came to support both measures.

We look forward to continuing to work with City leaders, including Police Chief Bill Scott and Director of Public Works Mohammed Nuru, as these strategies are implemented. As we researched prevention, enforcement and recovery strategies that have proven successful in other jurisdictions, one thing became clear: we need more data to better understand the scope of the bicycle theft problem in SF. We know it’s serious; but just when, where and how often it occurs is not fully tracked. As San Francisco steps up its fight against theft, we will closely monitor the political landscape and advocate forcefully for just, effective solutions.

The Tube Times is published quarterly as one of the many benefits to members of the SF Bicycle Coalition. For a complete list of membership benefits, or to join/renew today, click here.

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