Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Every year we put out our “Top 10 Worst Cities for Bike Theft List” at the beginning of the summer riding season. Each of the years that I’ve done it, New York City has been at the top of this US list. Every year. A couple of years before I was here, Chicago snuck into the top spot, but then New York returned to its spot and must have felt comfy there because it never flinched…in something like 9 years.

We love New York. We love the bike riding folks there – messengers, commuters and students. And, unfortunately, we have to respect the thieves there. They are resourceful and keep us on our toes. Heck, our premier line is the “New York” line because we know, in the US, that’s the bike theft capital….but, now I’m wondering if we need to change the name of our products….

You see, there is a new city on top of our list. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I think it’s great for NYC, but maybe not so good for bike riders in this city a little to NYC’s south.

Without further ado……here’s our 2007 list…

Kryptonite’s Top 10 Worst Cities for Bike Theft

1. Philadelphia, PA
2. Chicago, IL
3. New York City, NY
4. San Francisco, CA
5. Tucson, AZ (tie)
Portland, OR (tie)
7. Denver, CO
8. New Haven, CT
9. Cambridge, MA
10. Austin, TX

Yup, I’m shocked, but that’s what the data tells us. This list is compiled by our proprietary data….input from our regional managers, hundreds of shop visits, input from colleges and universities we talk with, our customer service interactions (both over the phone/email and at events) and data from police in various cities. When we did the compilation, there wasn’t even a city close to Philly. Not even close.

There are a few other things here that are interesting….New Haven is a first timer on the list. Cambridge replaces the city across the river, Boston. No Washington, DC for the first time in a long time.

This tells me that more people are riding now in these “new” cities. Probably due to the rising, rising, rising gas prices. More bikes means more theft.

Why do this list? To make fun of cities? NO WAY! We know each and every one of these cities fights bike theft every day. No, it’s to kick off the summer biking season with a little awareness. Just because your city isn’t on this list, doesn’t mean theft doesn’t happen there – or even in your “sleepy little town”.

Theft won’t happen to you….until it does. Get a lock that is appropriate for your area….I’d suggest that it be a Kryptonite, but you know what? Get what you are comfortable with….get something your local bike dealer recommends (they know what you’ll need) and lock your bike properly each and every time. Even at home. And start teaching the kids early about locking their bikes, too.

Go to our main website, in the Tech Lab section and look at our “how to lock your stuff” info. This will give you good locking tips. We’ll also be posting photos and locking tips here in the next few weeks.


About WABA said...

Any idea where DC is on the list? I thought that we were in the top 5 for bike thefts back in 2006 and that we are no longer not in the top ten is a good sign.

Jared said...

Data "tells" us nothing, because data are plural. Data tell us everything. Thanks for the good information.

Donna T. said...

WABA - yes, DC has come and gone from the Top 10 over the years. Last year DC was tied for 10th. So, dropping off the list is a good thing. Keep using those locks!

Jared...thanks for the vocabulary lesson! I can always use the help.

Jimmy OT said...

Fianlly, one good thing about riding in L.A. We didn't even break the top ten.

Moderator said...

New Haven has seen an enormous spike in cycling activity. The bike shops are bursting at the seams, and bike traffic jams are appearing.

See "Cycling Activity vs. National Gas Prices":



Anonymous said...

I live in Philly and must day..I did get my bike stolen this past year and I have had two friends that had their bikes ran over whilst they were parked on the street, so it is a rough city for bikes it should be on the top of the list.

Frank said...

Can you give some more info on the methodology - is it just the total number of bike thefts, or adjusted in some way for population (e.g. thefts per 1,000 people)?

Anonymous said...

My first bike I brought to the city was stored in the dorms, and was safe until I had to leave it at my aunt's house over the summer, at which point it disappeared. Oh well, it was a junker salvaged from the trash anyways.

My second bike was a Toys 'R' Us bike I got while cleaning out my grandma's house. That survived a few months locked outside my apartment before disappearing; the cable was cut (in retrospect it was laughably thin).

My current bike hasn't fared much better. I was using good Kryptonite U-locks on my bike and my girlfriend's by now but that didn't stop my seat from going missing. So I started taking the seat in, even though it was a pain. But that didn't stop them from cutting the cable that was around our back tires and stealing those! So right now I have two bikes sitting up in my apartment without back tires, meaning that they are useless, ugly, and hard to move out of the way.

Moral of the story:
Your bike is NEVER safe unless you take it inside. Period. You can buy all the fancy locks you want but somebody will always find something to steal off of it. I've heard of thieves taking the pedals!

Just bring it inside overnight.

Anonymous said...

YEY PHILADELPHIA! Damn i love my town. Is it possible to see the scores or any of the actual data?

Donna T. said...

Hi there everyone --

LA has only been in the list one time and that was years ago.

New Haven has bike traffic jams? Woa...that's kinda cool, actually.

Melanie...that stinks! We hate bike thieves!

Alfred...you need to sleep with those bikes. Yikes! Again...we HATE thieves!

We actually like Philly...a lot. But, when more bike riding happens, and more bikes are on the streets, theft numbers go up. Anon - the info comes from the markets, from the bike shops, from the places we mention in the post. If you look at the list the cities represented are known cities for large amounts of people riding bikes - commuting, going to school etc.

Thanks for the conversation everyone. Don't forget to properly lock your bike each and every time - even when it's inside! Please...

Anonymous said...

I've been riding my 700$ bike around philly for the last year with no issue. I use one guard dog mini and don't worry about the tires. It's only been outside over night once or twice though, the rest of the time I bring it in.

Anonymous said...

Hi Donna,
Was it all of Philadelphia or just certain neighborhoods? Do you have more information so that I can avoid getting my bike stolen? If you have any more specific information about your data, please add that to the post.

Anonymous said...

Austin is terrible for getting your bike jacked! 2 in two years...brutal. 1 was locked inside a locked garage inside a bike storage with a U lock.

I see tireless bikes everywhere. My question for the the thieves is what exactly are you doing with just the back tire? Replacing a tire that you had stolen I take it...very frustrating when you're trying to do a good thing like ride instead of drive only to get your property stolen...sad really.

Anonymous said...

I have been biking in Philly for about 2 1/2 years now and after a bit of a rough start (stolen wheel then stolen remainder) I tweaked my habits and no longer have problems. As has been said the self-evident answer is to take your bike in at night but locking up defensively is a close second. With no more then a 15 mm I could make a killing at 30th Street or outside most campus buildings at Drexel, Penn, and Temple.

Paranoia is probably a cyclist’s best friend in warding off the evil theft spirits--brotherly love alone does not cut it. Hipsters don’t share the moral perspective of their hippie forefathers. I always have my trusty evo mini in my back pocket wherever I’m heading go and it fits perfectly around my rear wheel, frame, and a parking meter. When I’m really paranoid I throw in a chord around the front wheel I have even been known to lock the rear wheel to my frame when it’s inside or napping on a long train ride.

Anonymous said...

I echo the Mike- I've had three bikes stolen in Philly in 6 years - in three different parts of town - not just in one neighborhood, but now I've got a system and the defensive parking and locking as paid off. One good tip - if possible lock up inside a parking garage with surveillance.

Anonymous said...

This does not mean the amount of theft in Washington D.C. has gone down. Just means that other cities have gotten worse to bump DC down on the list.

bookie said...

As a Denverite I am just proud to be Top 10 anything!

Anonymous said...

Interesting list. I live in Austin, TX and friends seem to get their bikes stolen every day. I can't imagine how bad it would be on the other cities mentioned in the list.

FYI, I bought a lock from A&J's Bike Locks and has been forced twice by somebody and has not been broken yet. Its Kryptonite material. Give it a try.

Anonymous said...

They are the best locks you can buy! As you can see by my photos of bikes in Philly http://phillyblight.blogspot.com/, anything not locked with a Kryptonite is gone!