Stolen Ride: rethinking bicycle theft safety
As ebikes gain popularity worldwide, our industry is forever propelling itself forward. Innovation is everywhere in an exciting journey towards e-transport becoming the global norm.
Enter RETHINK, a series where we highlight both our own work and the industry players we admire who are re-imagining what e-mobility and the bicycle sector can do.
This month we highlight Stolen Ride, a multi-faceted resource that provides a means for cyclists around the UK to keep their bicycles safely parked, and get them back if they do happen to be stolen.
Stolen Ride launched as a Twitter platform in 2012 where those who had lost a bicycle, or had had it stolen, could tweet @StolenRide for assistance in finding it. Now, Stolen Ride comprises a range of bike safety initiatives, from anti-theft to safe bicycle parking and insurance recommendations.
We caught up with the founder, Richard Cantle, to hear more about how StolenRide is rethinking bike theft safety in the UK.
When did you set up Stolen Ride? What was the goal?
“In 2012 I launched @StolenRide on Twitter. It began with a simple goal of bringing the cycling community together, in London, to keep an eye out for stolen bikes. If a bike was spotted, then the owner could be contacted by direct message and then the police informed.
Twitter was selected as it was great for ‘sharing news’ and was a platform people used. I saw the power of the London Riots ‘clean up’ in 2011 - Twitter helped spread the news and bring people together for ‘social good’.”
NOTE: victims of bike theft can still “@” StolenRide on Twitter. Include as many details on the stolen bike as possible, ideally a photo, and the location from which it was stolen. Fellow cyclists then search their area and send a message to the owner if they see it so that the owner can update the police.
To put bicycle theft in London into perspective, StolenRide also now has an interactive map on its website showing data on the bicycle thefts reported to the Metropolitan Police Service, City of London Police and British Transport Police between 1st July 2018 and 1st July 2019.
How has the Stolen Ride concept grown since then?
“Moving forward, the community is across all the main social media platforms and has over 20,000 London cyclists and is lucky to be very well known and respected. The community gets reports of up to 20 bikes a day during the peak times of the year (summer months).
Regarding standout successes, bikes have been spotted within one hour of posting and in shops and online. Some have even been located as far away as Spain and Moldova and later recovered by law enforcement.
Everything has evolved over time; the Stolen Ride website is now a major hub and voice in the UK for theft prevention information and campaigns. The goal is to continue to help others, expand on preventing these crimes and have a major impact.
I expect Stolen Ride to be known worldwide, I don’t know about the stolen bike community aspect, but it will be on the theft prevention side. Keep watching!”
It’s not just about Twitter now - what else does StolenRide do?
“We have a number of industry-leading partners covering bicycle insurance, security and parking. It allows us to quickly collaborate with the different aspects of the industry.
On our website we have articles regarding how to lock your bike, home security and online safety. It’s important to look beyond a lock purchase and to understand good bike locking techniques.
With high value bikes, it has been known for thieves to follow cyclists home or research online where they live and what bikes they own.
It’s quite rare, but it’s still important to consider privacy zones on ride sharing apps - essentially get to know the privacy settings and options. Consider your online fingerprint if you’re posting photos of your bike on sites others can see - it’s quite easy to join the dots nowadays.”
NOTE: one of StolenRide’s biggest partnerships is in cycle parking solutions. They showcase and advise on industry leading bicycle stands, bike locks, cycle hubs and repair stations, with the belief that providing safe bicycle parking will dramatically reduce the rate of bicycle theft in the UK.