The real danger on the roads is automotive, regardless of the fact that most drivers are safe an courteous folks.
Many active transportation folks eschew all aspects of car culture. I do. However, it could prove important to be able to identify details about a vehicle that was used as a weapon, for example in a hit-and-run.
All too often the police seem to be willing to do a poor investigation when cars are involved. Not being able to accurately identify vehicles only aids the police to this end. It's not right that this happens, so people in the general public should be able to make more positive identifications. For example, where an automobilophile might be able to make a split-second identification like '97 slate grey Taurus,' someone who didn't know much about cars might only come up with 'dark grey or blue sedan.' It wouldn't carry as much weight.
It's not the most pressing concern in the world, but it's a skill that could prove useful.
Spurred on by a discussion over at IBikeTO about bicycle locking style, I was inspired to post about my own locking style, which I graciously call Lock Fu.
- As always, start by reading Sheldon Brown's take. The important thing to take away from this is that your back wheel is expensive, so you want to lock it well.
- Deception: Muss your bike a little. Put on stickers and such. The uglier your bike is, the less likely someone is to steal it.
My bike is covered in environmental and vegetarian stickers. Vegetarianism is not something that someone as unrefined as a bike thief would aspire to; having a vegetarian sticker makes them less likely to steal your bike. Having stickers on a bike also makes it easier to identify.
- Personalize: If you have a bike with non-standard parts, it will be easier to identify if it is stolen. You should have a low spoke count wheel, or a fancy hub, or a saddle with glitters.
I am taller than about 90% of the population, so I set my seat high enough that 90% of the population couldn't ride off with it.
- Find a peacock: They say that no lock is unbreakable, and therefore no bike is unstealable. You have to make your bike a less appealing target than the next guy's. Try to find a fancy bike or a bike using an easy-to-break lock, and park near it.
I often lock up a beater in front of a nice bike; this requires two bikes, but it beats having your nice bike stolen.
- The three Ls: Preferably you should park your bike somewhere that you can keep an eye on it, or if you can't see it you should try to be close enough that you could hear tools being used on it.
- Find a suitably immovable object: Post and rings can be broken by a 2 by 4, so try for a sign post or alternate locking location.
- The double tap: One lock is not enough. I always carry an expensive U-lock to do my back wheel frame, and a smaller bendy lock to do the front wheel. Using different kinds of locks is a good idea because it means a thief needs multiple tools. I also leave a secondary U-lock at work, and a thick chain lock at home.
- Bring it in: If it's ever possible, bring your lock inside with you, especially if you'll be inside for a few hours.
- Stay vigilant: Always keep an eye out for new locking and theft tactics. Think about new ways to lock up and stay safe. If parking in a tough neighbourhood, walk away from your bike with a swagger so that people will know you're not somebody they want to mess with.
Colder days thin out the herd. Those left over are the faster, healthier cyclists. Between now and the first snowfall, get out your faster bikes for the commute, because the average speed will increase until people are riding their beaters again.