Many people, and especially women, who ride bikes in Philadelphia have been internally been playing the “What if?” game for the past few weeks. Most of us usually feel safer on our bikes than on foot: We are faster, more isolated, we have our headphones on and we are staring straight ahead; no one is going to bother us — or so we assume. It’s always difficult when these ideas that we have floating around are abruptly and violently challenged. Also, our perceptions of safety regarding ourselves and our personal belongings can drastically affect our quality-of-life, and right now we’re all feeling pretty low.
That said, it seems a little bit like Philly cyclists are as tenacious as pit-bulls in the face of bike related adversity. For instance, we all know that we’re risking a bike-napping every time we leave our bikes lovingly u-locked out on the mean streets. Pretty much everyone we know has had their bike stolen at least once. It’s hard to get accurate statistics on exactly how often this happens, because bike theft is absurdly under-reported to the Police (which is unsurprising due to their startling inefficiency regarding that sort of thing.) The FBI estimates that probably only one-third of all bikes that are stolen are reported. Obviously, they do not mention how many of these reported stolen bikes make it back to their rightful owners, once law-enforcement is on the job. With that in mind, according to Kryptonite’s (they make pretty much the only bike locks that stand a chance against the bolt cutters and angle grinders of the world) 2008 Worst Cities For Bike Theft list (the most recent one released) Philadelphia was at number one by a long shot. Apparently, no one else even came close.
Only. here’s the other thing: Philly is a great place to ride bikes. In spite of that dumb law Frank DiCicco tried to pass last year, or dangerous drivers who seem dedicated to running over cyclists, or bike thieves, for that matter. We don’t really know anyone who has had the police find their bike once stolen, but we know a bunch of people who got their bikes back through Craigslist Lost + Found, or because some other cyclist saw it and stole it back for them. That’s kind of cool. In fact, the cycling community here is pretty generous and helpful; a real community as opposed to a scene. But our bikes are still getting stolen (and sometimes, of course, worse). As a community, we can try to stop that from happening. We need to be able to feel safe on and off of our bicycles, because this place is our home (for better or worse) and we shouldn’t have to be afraid here. Bike-nappers, cycle-snatchers, lock-cutters, scam-artists and worse citywide: If you want a bike so bad, you can build your own. And we could show you how to do it.