stem of a modified prototype bicycle equipped with
GPS and electronic anti-theft technology is wired
to charge the bike's electronic system. Wi-MM
created Bike+ which uses cloud technology for
riding analytics and theft protection.
JOSE, Calif. ó Urban cyclists have more in common than
an aptitude for pedaling through city streets ó they
share the ever-present dread of one day discovering
their bicycle missing from the bike rack, or finding
only the skeletal remains of its wheel-less frame.
theft has become a staggering problem in the Bay Area,
where bikes are swiped regularly from public transit
stations, outside coffee shops, on university campuses
and from fenced-in yards. These days, the standard
U-Lock is no match for saw-wielding thieves, who are
also quick to yank a bike from a locked rack on the back
of a car or break through a garage door.
if Kryptonite wonít stop bike thieves, a growing crop
of entrepreneurs are hoping that new technology will
who does urban cycling gets their bike stolen at some
point," said Niko Klansek, founder of New
York-based FlyKly, which makes Bluetooth-connected bike
parts. "We have to live with this until we figure
from San Francisco to San Jose, Paris to London are
building high-tech locks, alarms and tracking devices
that aim to deter thieves and help cyclists recover
their stolen wheels.
a three-person startup in Santa Clara, has built a bike
alarm thatís concealed inside a water bottle holder
attached to the bike frame. The device will make a
blaring siren-like sound if the bike is moved or
tampered with after it has been locked. The owner
receives a text message that reads: "Your bike is
being stolen as you read this message."
hope, co-founder and chief technical officer Les Levitt
said, is that the owner can stop the theft in action, if
the alarm didnít scare the thief off.
like the barking dog ó the thief will move on to the
next house," Levitt said.
Bike+, as itís called, can be mounted to most
bicycles, but Wi-MM is also working with bike brand
Specialized to build a bicycle that contains the
technology inside the frame.
ultimately the bike of the future," Levitt said.
which publicly launched at the recent Consumer
Electronics Show in Las Vegas, is also trying to build
the bike of the future. The company makes wheels that
include a motor and connect to a smartphone app. With a
swipe of the app, the rider can control pedaling speed
and braking, and also lock the rear wheel. And every
bike is registered to a user through their smartphone,
so if a stranger starts pedaling a bike, FlyKly is
inventions will be welcomed in the Bay Area, where
bicycle thefts in the nine-county region have doubled
since 2009, according to the national stolen bike
registry. With more cyclists on the roads these days,
there are more bikes to steal: Berkeley has seen a 41
percent increase in reported thefts from 2013 to 2014,
and San Francisco is grappling with a 70 percent
increase from 2009 to 2013, according to police and city
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theft is really a huge issue, especially here in the Bay
Area," said Robert Prinz, education director at
Bike East Bay, a coalition advocating for cyclists.
"Itís actually an issue thatís getting worse,
and itís not just an urban problem anymore."
increased last year at 25 of the 43 Bay Area Rapid
Transit rail stations, with the steepest jumps at
Oakland stations, for a total of 832 bike thefts in
2014, according to BART police. Mountain View police
reported a 25 percent drop in thefts from 2013 to 2014,
but that was after years of year-over-year increases
topping 50 percent. These numbers are likely low, as
bike theft is believed to be vastly underreported.
when bikes are stolen, they are painfully difficult to
recover, victims and cycling advocates say. If the owner
doesnít have the bicycleís serial number, pictures
and proof of ownership, itís nearly impossible to get
the bike back. University of California, Berkeley police
say they recover about 2 percent of stolen bikes; last
year, the campus had 313 reported bike thefts.
theft victims often rely on social media, not the
police, to track down their bike, which may end up miles
a bike gets stolen in San Francisco, a lot of times it
moves down to Santa Cruz, or it moves up to
Sacramento," said Jenny Oh Hatfield, who runs a
Google Group called Stolen Bicycles Bay Area.
devices could help recover stolen bicycles by marking
their location on a map ó no matter who is riding it,
hauling it in the back of a truck or selling it at a
flea market. The Wi-MM device includes GPS and works on
the Verizon network, so as long as the bike is within
range of a Verizon tower, its exact location can be
tracked, showing up as a red dot on a map.
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technology is being tested with bike-share programs in
New York City; Santiago, Chile; and Madison, Wisconsin,
as well as with tech companies. LinkedIn has 50 bikes
that use Wi-MM, and theyíve already recovered five
through the tracking device.
was parked next to a trailer home in Mountain View, and
others were intermingled with bikes at Google,"
Kingdom-based Integrated Trackers makes GPS trackers
that mount to the bikeís steering tube or can be
disguised as a rear light. Like Wi-MM, the device uses
the mobile phone network to track the location of a
bicycle, which can be viewed on the Web in real-time.
can watch the red line trace from where the bike was
stolen all the way back to the thiefís house,"
founder Harley Clark said.
police departments in the U.S. are starting to adopt the
technology, mounting GPS trackers on bikes to bait
thieves. And Bike East Bay says it will begin testing
tracking technology this year.
that annoys a potential thief or makes their job a
little harder, even if itís not a perfect solution,
will help," Prinz said.
GADGETS TO KEEP YOUR BIKE SAFE
Pre-orders are $119
it does: Software-controlled keyless U-Lock; locates
bike on map through smartphone; records miles,
elevation, calories burned and CO2 emission saved
at the recent International Consumer Electronics Show
it does: Uses connected pedals to track bikeís
location and alert owner if bike is moved; records the
speed, route, incline and calories burned
$1,099 for wheel; $1,500 for entire bicycle
it does: Bluetooth-connected rear wheel that powers the
bike with a motor, battery and sensors; smartphone app
records speed, distance, CO2 emission saved and trip
duration; app locks rear wheel to deter theft;
specialized key for rear wheel deters theft; each bike
is registered to a unique user, and owner is alerted if
bike is stolen
it does: Disguised GPS tracker for bicycle steering
tube, seat or rear light; connected to the mobile phone
network; sends an alert when the bike has been moved;
tracks bike location and maps its route online
for purchase this spring
Preorders are $159
it does: Bluetooth-connected U-Lock that contains
sensors to automatically unlock and lock; sends text
alert when the bike is being moved or tampered with;
detects impact from crashes and sends alerts to family
and friends; uses crowdsourcing through the app to find
stolen bicycles; solar-powered
for purchase this spring
Hardware is less than $200; $4 per month for access to
it does: Motion-detection bike alarm with text alerts;
GPS tracking follows bikeís location on a map using
Verizon cell towers; records distance, speed, elevation,
route and carbon emission saved