Bicycle use may be on the rise in the city, but so are the number of thefts.
Several weeks ago, however, my bike was stolen from the bicycle rack near the TUCC building at 1515 Market St. An hour earlier, the bike was tightly locked and placed along with others. What’s most disturbing about this incident is that it happened in broad daylight in the heart of the city, adjacent to City Hall. That’s one bold move on the part of someone who doesn’t seem to care about being caught or facing consequences.
In fact, I was baffled by the number of criminals bold enough to steal.
According to the Philadelphia Police Department’s interactive crimes map, the total reported number of bicycle thefts from Center City in the last month stands at 200.
On the national level, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports Web site says more than 6.5 million cases of larceny theft occurred in 2008. When those numbers are broken down, 3.4 percent of all cases were related to bicycle thefts, followed by a large portion of stolen motor vehicles and accompanying break-ins.
To make matters worse, Kryptonite, a company that makes hefty bike locks, released its annual “Top 10 Worst Cities for Bike Theft” list.
While Kryptonite’s national ranking is unofficial, Philadelphia outranked all others on a nationwide scale. The company concluded in the statement, “When we did the compilation, there wasn’t even a city close to Philly. Not even close.”
As someone who has lived in the city nearly two years, I’ve learned how important bicycles can be in simplifying our lives. Struggling students are constantly trying to do anything to avoid paying those subway or bus fares. It’s true; when mom stops cooking, finding ways to save a precious dollar becomes a priority.
I often take my bike everyday to South Philly, where I work. With all the traffic and frequent stops at every single red light, I get to work much faster on bike than by car or bus. In addition, if talks between SEPTA and the Transport Workers Union Local 234 fail and they decide to go on strike, bikes could save the day.
After my ordeal, I purchased another bike for $180 and immediately registered it with the Temple Police. In turn, I received a free U-lock.
Sergei Blair can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.