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Bike security

3 ways to protect your bike from theft on campus
Savery Hall

Bikes are popular at the UW – so popular that every year a few of them get stolen. During 2015, 208 bikes were reported stolen to the University of Washington Police Department. With up to 3,000 bikes parked on campus any given day, 208 thefts over the course of a year means the vast majority of bikes are going to stay right where their owners parked them. Still, a few simple measures will make your bike a much less appealing target.

Bike lock diagram

1. Get a U-lock: Flexible cable bike locks are easy to cut with small tools. Heavier, rigid U-locks can still be defeated, but it takes thieves longer and requires large, harder-to-conceal tools. This is why UWPD tells us that the majority of bikes stolen on campus were locked with just a flexible cable lock. The ASUW Bike Shop has great deals on U-locks. So does Hall Health, if you are a student or U-PASS member.

2. Lock your bike properly with your U-lock: When locking, make sure your U-lock goes around the frame of your bike (the round tubes that make up the main “triangle”) and around a bike rack. Don’t lock just a wheel to a rack – the rest of your bike is easy to steal. If one of your wheels fits in the lock along with the bike frame and bike rack, awesome. If not, consider an additional cable to protect your wheels.

3. Register your bike with UWPD: Did you know you can register your bike for free with an app on your phone? UWPD has teamed up with Project 529 to make bike registration easier than ever before. Registration is by far your best means of getting your bike back if it’s stolen. “Lack of registration makes our investigations very challenging,” said Sgt. Kevin Jackson in a recent UW Daily article. “We do come across bikes frequently that we very strongly suspect have been stolen, but there was nothing we could do because we could not establish ownership.”

UW Transportation Services also offers secure and convenient bike parking options in our Bike Houses and Bike Lockers. Feel free to contact us at to inquire about space for your bike.

Our campus community is an essential part of maintaining security for bicycles. If you see suspicious activity near a bike rack, bike locker or bike house don’t hesitate to call UWPD (206–685-8973), and do not let anyone into a secure bike area. Be sure to share these tips with your friends and colleagues. And remember, friends don’t let friends use cable locks.