Bicycle Blueprint

NYC Cycling
1. NYC Bike Policy
2. State of NYC Cycling
3. Cyclists & Streets
A Bike and a Prayer

Riding Infrastructure
4. Street Design
5. Bridges
6. Road Surfaces
7. Greenways
8. Parks
9. Bicycles and Transit
10. Reducing Traffic

Bicycle Theft
12. On-Street Parking
13. Indoor Parking

On the Job Cycling
14. Bicycle Messengers
Fifth, Park & Madison
15. Freight Cycles
16. Gov't Cycling

Reducing Risks
17. Accidents
Three Who Died
18. Air Pollution

Bicycle Education
19. Schools
20. Public Education


      Chapter 11:
Bicycle Theft
 A Major Deterrent to Cycling
b) Arms Race
c) Police Apathy
d) Chapter 11 Recommendations

Kyle Skrinak

A Major Deterrent to Cycling

Bicycle theft is one of the most daunting difficulties confronting New York City bicyclists. Countless cyclists have “retired” from bicycling after losing their first — or third or sixth — bicycle to street theft.

Bicycles are lightweight, simple to operate and inherently mobile — hence, easy to steal. With an abundance of eager buyers (many of whom are themselves victims of bicycle theft), and with little intervention by the police, a market for stolen bikes and bike parts thrives in New York City. As a result, long-term cycling in New York City seems to promise eventual loss of one's bike. In the 1992 City Cyclist survey, the 839 respondents reported a total of 860 bicycles stolen in New York City, an average of 1.03 thefts per cyclist.

During the 1980s, an average of 8,300 bicycles were reported stolen to the New York City Police Department each year. [1] By all accounts, the actual rate of bike thefts in New York is far higher. In the City Cyclist survey, theft victims reported their stolen bikes to the police only one-quarter of the time. This may overstate the extent of theft reporting, since survey respondents are probably more likely to go to the police than the average cyclist. One bike store owner who is also a long-time cycling activist has inferred from conversations with thousands of customers that only 1 in 10 bike thefts in New York City is reported. Even assuming the true reporting rate is 1 in 5, and assigning a $250 value per bike, the implied 40,000-45,000 bike thefts per year are costing their owners around $10 million annually.

1. New York City DoT, New York City Bicycle Statistics, 1991, Table 7.

 A Major Deterrent to Cycling
Arms Race
c) Police Apathy
d) Chapter 11 Recommendations