One of the things I love most about the Washington, DC metropolitan area (composed of DC, Maryland, and Virginia) is its numerous trails, paths, bike lanes, and parks. If you can handle a small hill from time to time, the sky’s the limit with destinations you can travel to on your own two wheels.
Naturally, in an urban setting with more and more apartment buildings being built and occupied, the default location to store a bike goes from your personal one- or two-car garage, to a shared bike storage area. This storage area looks pretty different in each building. Some, like my old building, have a few bike racks in a covered parking areas. Some are in a cage that requires a key. Some bike storage areas might even be climate controlled, locked, and have a high-definition security camera. Unfortunately, the uniting factor with these storage facilities is that bikes can be (and are) easily stolen out of them without many options to get them back.
Apartment management companies will often advertise the convenience and safety of having a secure location to keep your bike. You might even be seeking this out when looking for a building to move to. Just remember that most of these storage facilities are not designed and built by bike security experts. They’re often designed to look secure and show that the management company is providing a secure location for your valuables. Sadly, the second a bike is stolen, there’s nothing the management company can do. Your local police department may not have the resources to track any suspect or your bike down, either.
Luckily, there are easy and inexpensive (and even free) steps you can take so your bike can remain secure while you’re also able to enjoy the convenience of keeping your bike somewhere other than your actual apartment. First, register your bike with Bike Index, as well as your local police department if they have their own registry. Check out Bike Index’s resources on protecting your bike. Among the recommendations, use a high-quality U-Lock, don’t rely on security cameras to keep your bike safe, and ensure locks are snug before leaving. Don’t just assume your lock is secured properly!
One piece of advice I’ll add from my own experience talking with victims of bike theft: ride your bike often, and if it’s been a while since you have and you’re not up for a ride one day, check to make sure the area and your locks are still secure. You wouldn’t leave a laptop or gaming console unattended, so don’t leave a bike, often worth more, without proper security measures!