BART bike parking is not secure

I had my bike stolen out of 24th and Mission Street BART last Wednesday. Seen it? Hey, I know it happens. It’s my second stolen bike.

The thing is, I thought I had done everything right: I brought it in the gate, ran a cable through the wheels, and secured a newer mini Kryptonite U-lock through the frame. But when I got back everything was gone. I had to double check that I didn’t get off at the wrong station.

I think the lesson is that BART isn’t a safe place to park your bike. You may think you’re protecting your bike from outsiders, but you’re also protecting thieves. The bike parking area is in a secluded corner out of view of the operator booth, the station is noisy, and people are too hurried and desensitized to weirdos to take notice of strange activity. In retrospect, someone could take a generator and angle grinder down there while wearing a bear suit and no one would pay any attention.

There is also plenty of time for a thief to monitor the bike parking patterns. For me, I was parking it there for 8 hours every weekday as part of my commute. Someone could have easily figured out the best time to strike over the course of a few days.

I give props to the BART police for showing up quickly to take my report and offer their condolences, but unfortunately they said getting any security footage for such a large window of time and secluded corner probably wont happen. So much for vigilante justice.

I took away the following advice from them:

  1. Write down the serial number of your bike. You’ll need it if your bike is ever recovered. Seriously, do it now. Put it in your phone or something.
  2. Powell street BART is most secure. Due to people traffic and location of the bike area, they have had the least amount of theft there.
  3. Don’t park a bike in public for more than a couple of hours if you expect to keep the bike. Get a beater.
  4. Write BART about improving bike security. They don’t listen to the BART cops, they do listen to you. You can do so online here.

That being said, it could not have been easy for the thief to break my U-lock. It would have been time consuming and noisy. I offer these suggestions to BART:

  1. If you haven’t already, put a security camera on the bike area.
  2. Relocate bike racks to somewhere within line of sight to the operator booth.
  3. Station agents should do regular scans of the station areas. Grandma can wait 5 minutes for help with which end to stick the ticket.
  4. Improve hospitality towards bike commuters. Station, car, and time restrictions make it really hard to justify traveling with your bike. Caltrain figured this out to an extent. We can do better.

Best of luck out there against these savages.

[photo by Improv Everywhere via Fixed Gear Blog]

30 Responses to “BART bike parking is not secure”

  1. greg says:

    bummer about your ride but if you think those fat fucks that sit in the booths are going to shit…..

  2. scum says:

    Bummer about the bike, boner about the girl.

  3. My sincere condolences, also, but you must realize that BART’s level of concern for the problems of bike riders must inevitably descend to the level of bike riders’ concern for the rules of using bikes on BART, e.g. bikes on escalators.

    Oh, and Powell is more secure because they have a BART police station there — although that may be compromised by the renovation work now underway, there.

    • rod says:

      BART’s low level of concern for cyclists isn’t a reaction to some blog commenter having seen a bike on the escalator one time. it has more to do with the fact that accommodating to cyclists is very low on their priority scale. they are primarily focused with getting people from A to B. people bringing bicycles is not so much encouraged as it is tolerated, hence you aren’t allowed to take bikes on the trains during most of the hours in which it would be more convenient.

  4. ultradawn says:

    did someone steal your pants too. bummer all ’round; hope you can claim the bike on insurance and sue the bart while you’re at it.

  5. No fish today says:

    That sucks, bro. That’s why I now rollerblade instead of bike.

  6. Chuck Woolery says:

    I’ll be honest I never read the blog. My keys are all gummed up from that picture.

  7. rod says:

    that sucks, but i’m not surprised. whoever made the decision to more or less hide the bike racks at most BART stations has made it very convenient for bike thieves. I know they are heavy as shit but if you are going to lock your bike up all day it might not be a bad idea to use 2 full size U-Locks, one for the frame and back wheel and one for the front. It’s also a good idea to park in a different spot every day. I think your suspicions are correct that some bike thieves will profile your parking habits.

  8. LiLo says:

    Bummer! I know how much it blows to have a bike stolen. You’re right about the lesson, I’ll take note. Sux though.

  9. Streetjustice says:

    I one had a bike stolen from 24th. Police came, did little to nothing I left. Got off at civic.
    There is my bike, locked with industrial chain, sans u-lock or helmet or spoke cards. Excited I call the cops. They come but did not believe me that it was my bike.
    No level of proof would convince them since it wasn’t registered with them. While i was standing with them i noticed a bart worker who had just cleaned the elevator throwing away the bottom half of my ulock, which i retreived and showed the police that I had a key for it.
    Eventually after showing pictures of me years ago with the bike they decided to hold it for a week and put a sign out explaining where the bike went. It was very strange, but I did eventually get it back. Why they don’t at least put in security cameras is beyond me. Moral of the story is the Bart police are beyond worthless. They are actually an hindrance.

  10. Teotwawki Jones says:

    Those children in the background are plotting how to someday open the doors while Bart is at full speed and push her out.

  11. Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

    (insert normal anti-biketheft yet pro-getting-a-real-bike comment here)

  12. Mari says:

    I just heard about a cool website called Bike Shepherd where you can register your bike with this sort of information and post alerts when it gets stolen. Might be worth it to check out once you get a replacement bike, especially since its free!

    Thanks for the heads up…I’ll definitely be careful with my bike!

    cool bike registry site:

  13. E says:

    Very sorry to hear about your bike. Sad to be carrying that into the new year with you. You gave a lot of great advice; thanks for passing that on.

  14. Alissa says:

    Good post, Vic. Sorry about your bike, crossing my fingers for its recovery.

  15. Lil Danzig says:

    My heart goes out to ya but I have to say that the thought of a bike thief ‘casing out the area’ for days prior is pretty comical to me, probably because I keep imagining Snidely Whiplash lurking in a shadowy corner of 24th st BART

    • It sounds comical until you understand that one individual (such as the kind of person who would normally be employed as a drug-runner or “late-night” salesperson near either of the Mission BART stations) could easily monitor dozens of bikes.

      And then it sounds comical again when you think about how much an eye-baller like that would stand out, given how deep the bike racks are in the stations.

      And then, it stops sounding comical again, when you consider how much the station agents loathe bike riders.

  16. wizzer says:

    what kind of person rides a bike in that Hooters outfit?

  17. danny says:

    sorry to hear about your bike. :( since you were using a u-lock plus a cable, it’s possible you might have accidentally secured your bike to the rack with the cable only. my coworker’s bike was stolen for this reason (she just used the u-lock to lock the cable ends together but didn’t put the u-lock around the rack) and she didn’t even realize she was doing anything wrong. unless you left the bike overnight it seems hard to believe that someone could have brought and used the necessary power tools into the station during operating hours in order to break a u-lock. but just a pair of bolt cutters to snip the cable would be much more plausible.

    it’s probably not the reason, but something to watch out for just in case!

    • PJ Rivard says:

      That was my exact thought! I see bikers locking up their bikes with hefty expensive u-locks locking one wheel to the frame and using a dollar store cable to connect the u-lock to the bike rack.

      I also see the “u-lock through the stem onto a pole” routine. It’s quick and convenient but so is owning a hex key and undoing the stem bolts and walking away with the bike leaving the u-lock.

      The moral of the story should have been fuck ever calling the bart police.. Learn to properly lock a bike up.

  18. Arnold says:

    Sorry about the loss of your bike. The only positive way to deter bike theft is to not allow your bike out of your sight. In your case this is impossible. Now about the girl in the pic….whats the point except that sex sells and nothing else. Did she forget to get dressed on the way to work? The article could have done without the blatant T&A shot. I’m just sayin” 0_o

  19. Agent Chaos says:

    I had a bike stolen from the 16th Street Bart.
    I called the cops, talked to the station agent.
    Station agent said there are cameras on the bike area but THEY DO NOT RECORD. So it is up to the station agent to monitor. Well this particular station agent offered me a shitty mountain bike he had stashed in the un-accessible bathroom. Like, sorry your awesome bike got stolen, here’s a tweeker model.
    This got me real sketched.
    You could have SO many arrests if this was the case.
    This question is more important. It seems that this guy has an IN and benefits from the thefts.
    Every time I see him I shake my head.

    I have been trying to raise these questions of security with BART to no avail. Maybe now is a good time to get the community behind it.

  20. just a thought says:

    I also blame the BART operators. More than half the time i see them in the booth they are playing games on their phones or talking on their phones to their friends.

    I recently parked my bike front of the McArthur Bart station for a few hours DURING THE DAY mind you, and came back to find it stripped of its parts, handle bars, wheels, fork, everything but the frame. i mean stealing a bike as a whole, i understand, but stripping it of its parts in broad day light and nobody, especially the BART workers, not noticing it is just flat out ridiculous.

    oh and heres the cherry on top, when i went up to the booth to tell the bart associate if he had seen anything, he was, yes you guessed it, talking on the phone to a friend (i know he was on a personal call and not a business related call, based off the conversation he was having) AND playing games on his cell phone… but hey, it IS oakland after all and maybe im just expecting too much…

  21. garion says:

    Yer one in the picture’s a ride!