So this morning, Going Going Bike went off to the cinema for an exclusive preview showing of a film in the backstreets of Shoreditch in London. This film didn’t feature Hollywood “A” listers but had the humble bike as the star actor in a short film about cycle theft and how people respond to a theft when they see one taking place right in front of them.
The film, Bike Theft: The Movie, was made by secure cycle parking equipment provider Bike Dock Solutions. They set up a filmed experiment to see if members of the public who witnessed a cycle theft would do anything about it. Unfortunately no one intervened to stop a series of bike thefts taking place or chase after the bike thief. In fact no one really battered an eye lid.
Bike Dock Solutions sent a hidden camera crew to a London market location, where a stooge was filmed ‘stealing’ a bicycle at pre-arranged times during the day. The bike itself was locked to a barrier with a cable lock. At all times, the stooge thief made sure he broke the cable lock with very large bolt cutters and took the bike away in front of a crowd of people who could witness the theft.
Despite over ten ‘thefts’ taking place throughout a 60-minute period, nobody intervened or interacted with the ‘thief’.
In some cases it took nearly three minutes for people to recognise that a theft has taken place and that, at the busiest times, up to 15 people walked past the theft without either recognising or intervening. You can see some of the reactions of people to the bike thefts in Bike Dock Solution’s film in the Youtube video below.
Lack of intervention
After the event, some of the market stewards did report that a couple of people had informed them about witnessing a bicycle being stolen. However the information was given to the stewards so long after the ‘thefts’ that had it been a real scenario, the thief would be long gone.
It has to be pointed out that a cable lock would not offer much deterrent to a determined bike thief but Bike Dock Solutions felt using just one cable lock replicated what most people use to lock up their bikes on a street in London or elsewhere.
Secure cycle parking needed
James Nash, a director of Bike Dock Solutions, told Going Going Bike that despite more and more people being encouraged to take up cycling in the UK, they were still being deterred by the lack of secure cycle parking facilities. Cycle theft is the single greatest deterrent to cycle use after fears concerning road safety. In the UK, a bicycle is stolen every minute and less than 5% of those are returned to their owners.
James told us that any significant increase in cycling traffic needed to be met with a consequent increase in “secure” cycling parking and storage facilities both for public use and at a private level in workspaces used by businesses.
As we know, from the Halfords report into bike theft last year, bicycle theft cost British cyclists around £80m a year in 2010 with the total number of reported bikes stolen put at 115,147. The same report suggests that only 20% of cycle thefts are reported to the police – meaning the true number of bicycles stolen in the UK each year is actually closer to 533,000.