It seems like just yesterday we were extolling the virtues of the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, and its rise to the top of the bike commuting cities in the U.S.
All that growth and increased cycling interest has come at a steep price, however:
Philly has been ranked the number one major city for bike commuting; we’ve landed on the Top Bike-Friendly Cities in America list; new bike lanes are turning up everywhere. But with this increase in bikes has come a historic high for bike theft. The thefts have been on the rise for some time, according to data provided by the police department, climbing from 1,849 in 2011 to 2,122 in 2013. We’re on track to top that this year … and that’s just with the number of bike thefts that are reported.
“The actual number is three to four times higher,” says statistical analyst Tyler Dahlberg, who completed a study on the topic for the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia last year.
In yesterday’s New York Times, there was a great article about the efforts of the San Francisco Police Department in combating bike theft using a variety of high-tech tools and techniques:
SAN FRANCISCO — Officer Matt Friedman fights crime with modern tools: Twitter, which he uses to publicize pictures of suspects and convicted criminals, and a GPS device, which he uses to track down stolen property.
In both cases, his lure is stolen bicycles — including the “bait bikes” that have recently been seeded throughout the city to tempt potential thieves. Equipped with GPS technology, the bicycles, which exist to be stolen, can be tracked down in real time and the thieves can be arrested.
These aren’t run-of-the-mill “bait bikes”, either. SFPD doesn’t play around; they use expensive rigs equipped with GPS trackers to guarantee that when they catch up with offenders, they can charge them with a felony, not a slap on the wrist. Bike thieves, beware!!!
Hey Bike Commuting Ladies and Gents! As you know, the Bike Commuters staff are not about blasting you with Kickstarter bike-related paraphernalia, since gods know that there are fluffy piles of that out there in internet land… like bunnies in a pillow fight, yo. But once in a while, there comes a Kickstarter campaign that tickles our fancy. So we are throwing out some virtual Kickstarter Love for the SHY-SPY GPS/GSM Tracker for Bicycles.
Stealing bikes is mean, but real.
Short of bringing your bike indoors with you on a leash at all times (“What, you’ve heard of guide dogs for the visually impaired? This is my guide bike, and I’m car impaired, okay?“) there comes a time in every bike commuter’s life when they have to address security. Bike theft is a problem in all cities and neighborhoods, despite the cycle-owner’s best efforts. Cycle gators, in an effort to protect their bike offspring, may go so far as to register in free city-wide systems, implant smart locks, or OnStar the hell out of your ride.
What? Guide Dogs and Bikes… obvious combination.
So what’s so special about the SHY-SPY? Yet another GPS tracker for your bike… you Cycle Cynics may say, as you virtually (or literally) roll your eyes at this post. Well, let me let them tell you (because copying and pasting is way easier than reading comprehension ;):
When it comes to keeping track of our cycling activity, there are a large variety of choices:
Inexpensive Cycle computers: to record the distance, speed, total travel time, but no geolocation data.
GPS trackers: There are a lot of GPS trackers out there, in form of wearable watches, or mountable on your stem or handlebars. Professional models could have many additional functions such as power meter, heart rate and cadence sensors; And yeah… they cost a fortune. So you have to protect it as well; Mount it when you ride and take it away when you leave the bike unattended.
Smartphones: Using our cellphone along with popular sport tracking apps such as Endomondo, Strava and Sportstracker is another convenient choice; There is a compromise though and it’s the risk of running out of battery on your mobile phone when you need it the most.
With SHYSPY however, you always have a tracker with your bike; The long battery life of 30 hours, lets you track all the activities with no concern of any kind. Using the SHYSPY app you could monitor you activity and/or download it in GPX standard format to be later uploaded manually to major sport tracker platforms such as: Endomondo, Strava and Sportstracker, so you could compare your data with other members and socialize your cycling experience.
SHY-SPY GSM is our low cost alternative to GPS tracking.
Get inside my seat tube any day, SHY-SPY!
What Mir.I.Am loves about this idea:
Welcome to 2014, people: Mir just got texting, so a GPS tracker that can text me the location of my bike sounds pretty nifty and high-tech.
The SHY-SPY can mount inside your seat tube, for incognito theft-tracking action.
I’m not so interested in tracking my cycling “performance” while commuting, by I am interested in making my life more like any episode of Get Smart.
And now there’s a very interesting Kickstarter project gaining some traction. Called The BikeSpike, this device purports to:
•Monitor your bike’s location on a map using your phone or computer
•Grant temporary access to local law enforcement, helping increase the chances of recovery.
•Digitally “lock” your bike and receive a notification if your bike moves from it’s geo-fenced location or if someone even tampers with it.
•Collision detection system can alert key members of your contact list and share the location of an accident.
•Share your stats (distance, speed, and courses…) with friends, coaches and spectators.
•Monitor your children and get notified if they ride out of their safe zone.
•Our open API allows developers to create gaming and fitness apps that you can download and use with the device or use the data created from the BikeSpike to integrate with the existing apps you already love. Export a GPX file.
•PLUS, with the Hacker Pack, you can connect it to a motorcycle or other on-board batteries for a continual charge.
The website Mashable calls it “like LoJack and OnStar for your bike.”
Here’s a video that helps illustrate the workings of the device:
What do you think — a gadget worth pursuing, or is investing in a strong lock a better strategy? We’d love to hear your thoughts on BikeSpike as much as the developers would like you to help fund their project…just leave comments below.
A tip of the ol’ foam dome to longtime reader/commenter Raiyn Storm for pointing this out to us.
Ingo Lou, producer for an upcoming web series entitled “To Catch a Bike Thief”, dropped us a press release about the project. This ties in nicely with our recent coverage of Outside Magazine‘s great article “Who Pinched My Ride?”, where the author used GPS tracking devices to follow stolen bikes.
NEW WEB SERIES FOLLOWS TECH-SAVVY CYCLISTS AS THEY CATCH BIKE THIEVES WITH GPS-TRACKED BAIT BIKE
Cyclists are angry at rates of bicycle theft and want more to be done to stop it. Roughly 2.5 bicycles are stolen every minute, and even when bike theft is reported to police, victims stand a less-than-one-per-cent chance of actually recovering their bike, according to the Centre for Problem-Oriented Policing in a report prepared for the US Department of Justice.
This has inspired a group of Vancouver cyclists to create a web series, aptly called “To Catch a Bike Thief,” to chronicle their adventures as they attempt to recover GPS-tracked bait bikes they constructed themselves.
The web series is intended to raise awareness about bike theft, promote discussion, and explore ways that individuals and communities can protect themselves against theft.
“I’m constantly surprised at the level of support and encouragement we receive from everyone in the cycling community for our project,” said Broderick Albright, one of the first members of the To Catch a Bike Thief team.
Broderick and the rest of their team began experimenting with GPS tracking technologies for bicycles in early 2011 and constructed their first bait bike in June 2011. During the summer, production of the series began when the group tested their DIY bait bike, keeping it on a short leash at first. They ran round-the-clock stakeouts, waiting for a thief to cut the lock so the To Catch a Bike Thief intercept team could hop onto their bikes and chase the stolen bait bike.
The GPS tracker in the bait bike (purchased online from a website specializing in equipment to help catch cheating spouses!) has a vibration sensor that activates the tracker once the lock is cut. The tracker then broadcasts its real-time location every 10 seconds to a mapping server accessed through a web-application. In To Catch a Bike Thief, the team designated a “dispatcher” to coordinate with the intercept team in the field via two-way radios.
“GPS tracking gives our intercept team dispatch real-time response of the bait bike, and allows our team to develop a proper intercept strategy that is both safe and effective,” said Ingo Lou, producer of To Catch a Bike Thief. “We want to make sure we have all the information we need before we go and intercept our bait bike after it’s been stolen.”
The To Catch a Bike Thief team hired security guards on bicycles to be on hand when confronting bike thieves. The security detail isn’t there to make arrests, but to observe, report and deter any potential violent behavior to protect the intercept team.
Series director, Kirsten Aubrey envisions a web series in which the full picture of bicycle theft can be thoroughly explored by a combination of GPS tracking, rigorous research and good old-fashioned documentary-style filming. “I want to understand the big picture of bike theft, in order to help cyclists protect their bikes.”
To Catch a Bike Thief is produced in Vancouver, B.C., and the trailer for Season 1 was released on February 2, 2012. The pilot episode is planned to release in spring 2012.
If you’d like more information about To Catch a Bike Thief or to schedule an interview with a team member, please contact Ingo Lou at (604) 351-5077 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To tantalize you, here’s the trailer for the series: