Photos by Lionel Shapiro
• Adam Thorpe, from the Design Against Crime Research Centre at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, gave a presentation about the Bikeoff Project he has been working on.
• 80,000 bicycles were stolen last year in London alone. Studies have shown that of the 22% of all cyclists that experience bicycle theft, 17% stop cycling as a result and 66% cycled less often.
• Adam and his colleagues have analysed bike parking and security in the area outside Central Saint Martins College (Southampton Row/Theobald’s Road). They recorded 8,500 ‘locking events’. Of these, 19% involved locking the cross bar only and 53% involved locking just one wheel. 87% used one lock, 12% two and 1% three. Most new cyclists didn’t know the name or function of many components of their bikes, e.g. quick-release levers on wheels. There has been a theft rate of about 40%. CCTV is in place, but has had no apparent effect in preventing theft or catching thieves.
• The project has adopted a four-pronged strategy to improve matters:
- Information Environment : methods of communicating security issues and user best practice to cyclists and other users of the space, e.g. stickers and leaflets – the former in particular have been proven to work by getting cyclists to lock their bikes more securely.
- Surveillance and Guardianship : schemes that will help cyclists look after our own bikes and/or work with existing services to do so. This includes looking at ways of linking sensors to mobile ‘phones and such like.
- Cycle parking furniture : designing more secure user-friendly cycle parking furniture.
- Lighting and Site Improvement : the design of more user-friendly, abuser unfriendly sites for cycle parking.
Bikeoff’s bike stand sticker:
• As part of 3, Adam is shortly to be testing some prototypes for new bike stands, one for short-stay and one for long-stay. He would like to come back in the new year and show these to us and get our views on them.
• Adam was asked about the extent to which the police were involved and what they could do. He pointed out that bike theft was now a Home Office ‘comparative crime’ and so was something police forces were getting more interested in. However, one of the problems is that when stolen bicycles are recovered, their owners are only infrequently identifiable. The ‘immobilize’ scheme goes someway to dealing with this, but not all police forces use it and in any case the markings can be removed.
• Paul insisted that one of the key things would be to stop the sale of stolen bicycles, also to target thieves, as with the use of decoy-bikes (as has been done in Camden).
• In response to a question about the quality of locks, Adam said that this was something which would be looked into in a future phase of Bikeoff. There currently is rating scheme – Sold Secure (Sold Secure) – but Adam felt that this was not ideal.
• Given the need for real surveillance (i.e. not CCTV) to ensure that bike parking is secure, could not supervised parking be introduced? Adam agreed that this was possible, and that cyclists would probably be happy to pay 50p a day towards this.
• More information can be got from BikeOff .
• Adam closed the meeting with a sequence of very entertaining short films about bike theft.