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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Don’t park a bike in public for more than a couple of hours if you expect to keep the bike. Get a beater.
- 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:
- If you haven’t already, put a security camera on the bike area.
- Relocate bike racks to somewhere within line of sight to the operator booth.
- Station agents should do regular scans of the station areas. Grandma can wait 5 minutes for help with which end to stick the ticket.
- 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.