Cyclists urged to keep their bicycles safe

A story on Latvian Television that aired on Monday cautioned bicycle owners against leaving their bicycles unattended, no matter if they're left in a public place or even where there's video surveillance that supposedly keeps the thieves away.

In the last few years, Riga has experienced nothing short of a bicycling renaissance. The number of bicycle riders has increased five times from 2008 to 2014, and the municipality of Riga has set upon improving the bicycle infrastructure, adding bicycle lanes on the busy streets of Riga and working on connecting the existing routes.

Bicycle-sharing systems are becoming increasingly popular, and a 30-minute bike ride costs less than a public transportation ticket. However, it takes quite a lot of forethought to keep your bicycle safe, and only one in seven stolen bicycles is found in Riga. 

"My years-long best two-wheeled friend has been stolen," one less-than-lucky cyclist Haris posted on Facebook. His bicycle was stolen in front of the National Library, in the eyes of the many cameras installed there during the European presidency.

Haris used the bike to cycle to work and secured it with a self-made chain with a lock. Last Wednesday, instead of finding his bike where he parked it, he found only cutters lying on the ground. The thief had thrown away the lock. 

Even though people buy expensive (editor's note: or even legendary) bicycles, safety is often less a concern as disproportionately cheap locks are installed on costly bikes, said Dāvis Ķepītis, a representative of the Riga regional Criminal police office of the State Police.

The bicycles usually end up at pawnshops or buyers the thieves know. Ķepītis also added that people should take photos of their bicycles along with their frame numbers as that can help if the bike is stolen.

The State Police website has some tips about keeping your bikes safe. Among the less obvious ones are using a safer U-shaped lock, and locking it as close to the ground with the keyhole pointing downwards so the lock is harder to pick.

It is also suggested to register your bicycle at the Road Traffic Safety Directorate (CSDD) that allows notifying the owner when a bicycle is found, plus there's also a page that shows the bicycles recently found or confiscated.

Wondering where to bicycle trails are in Riga and in the rest of Latvia? Here's a map for that - press the green bicycle icon to see tourism routes too.

For good measure, here's a crowd sourced map showing the least secure places for bicycles in Riga (numbers on the map mean bicycles stolen in that area).

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