Our cycling columnist Sara Robin answers your questions about all things to do with cycling

Dear Sara: I worry about my bike getting stolen. What can I do about keeping it safe?

Sara replies: This is a perennial problem with bikes, and it can turn into rather a competition with the thieves. Don’t worry though there are plenty of things that you can do to keep your pride and joy safe and secure.

I had a quick look at the Office of National Statistics analysis of bicycle theft (www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/articles/overviewofbicycletheft/2017-07-20).

One of the things that jumps out is that only 40 per cent of bikes were locked when they were stolen. What the report doesn’t say is whether the bikes were locked on to something solid when they were stolen, there also is not a breakdown as to what were the types of bikes were stolen. Presumably this will change from year to year depending on what is popular and easily sold on.

Despite many years of cycling I haven’t had many bikes stolen, in fact only one and I had only left it unlocked for a few moments.

My small daughter was trying to buy some sweets in a shop near her school with her pocket money and I was waiting outside. Unfortunately she was so small she couldn’t be seen by the shopkeeper as her head was below the counter! In desperation she asked for help and I popped into the shop for a moment and came out to find my bike had gone. I rationalised things by deciding I had never liked the bike or the colour, it was red, and as I had other bikes and worked in a bike shop I put it down to experience. So my first suggestion is, always lock your bike to an immoveable object, preferably somewhere busy and overlooked.

My second suggestion is to get as good a lock as you can afford. Nowadays there are a huge range of locks from very basic to something so huge and heavy you may double the weight that you carry around. On the plus side you might get very fit pedalling the extra weight about! Electric bikes do seem to be very attractive to thieves so carrying a heavy lock won’t be a problem if you have an electric motor. This website does have a lot of information on what lock to get (thebestbikelock.com) and the information does seem up to date and pretty reliable.

The statistic about bikes not being locked when they were stolen is because many bikes are stolen from outside a house, in the garden, or in a shed. When you are at home you may let your guard down and not lock up your bike. A third suggestion is to look carefully at where you store your bike at home and make it as secure as possible. Locking your bike to something immoveable if you can is great. I keep my bikes in an alley at the side of the house with secure fittings attached to the wall to lock onto. If you have a flimsy shed or the bike has to stay out in the open do consider keeping it in your house or flat. I have a very relaxed view of having bikes in the house but I know not everyone is happy to have a bike in the hall. My most favourite bike tends to come into the house if I go on holiday.

A couple of other tips that may be useful: making a bike look odd or covering the decals with tape, a basket on the front with artificial flowers anything that a thief would be embarrassed to be seen with can help. A final suggestion from an experienced person at Cycle Heaven is not to leave a much loved or expensive bike in the same place every day with the same lock. This will give a thief doing their research time to work out what tools they will need for a rapid demolition of the lock and speedy getaway. Two different locks can be good as different techniques will be needed for different locks.

Going to a good bike shop, there are quite a few in York, and discussing what you need and purchasing from them can save money and time. Local knowledge is very useful.

About Sara

Sara has been riding her bike in York and further afield since 1980. She initially got into cycling in Australia and worked as a mechanic in two bike shops in Sydney. When she moved to York Sara was a founder member of York Cycleworks which was set up as a workers coop in 1980 and she worked there in many roles until 2002. She rides one of her bikes most days and would love to encourage more people of all ages to ride bikes for getting around, shopping, commuting and leisure.

Do you have a question about cycling? Email maxine.gordon@thepress.co.uk and we will pass your question on to Sara