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Hal (and Kerri) Grade Your Bike Locking

Nearly five years ago, legendary bike mechanic Hal Ruzal and I walked the streets surrounding Bicycle Habitat and graded the bike locking ability of New Yorkers - producing many humorous and enlightening anecdotes. The resulting video aired frequently on bikeTV and at many festivals, and because of it - Hal is still frequently asked by complete strangers to judge their bike locking.

I always endeavored doing another, but as with most sequels you need a new wrinkle. This time we thought we'd give Hal some company and invited former Recycle a Bicycle mechanic Kerri Martin (and founder of The Bike Church in Asbury Park, NJ) to weigh in with her expertise.

Again, bikes on the streets of SoHo provide lots of fodder for laughs and lessons to learn.We didn't plan to but we walked the same loop and even used the same one-hour time frame. The results? The grades were a little better than five years ago. Sure, still some bad locking out there, but many more people are now sporting multiple locks and better strategies! Good news, maybe we made a difference after all...

Hal Ruzal: [0:05] It was so close we were getting fouled up.
Kerri Martin: [0:10] That could be easily taken off.
Kerri Martin: [0:13] What did the first lock look like?
Hal Ruzal: [0:16] That probably was more vigor.
Hal Ruzal: [0:18] I'm Hal Ruzal.
Kerri Martin: [0:19] I'm Kerri Martin.
Hal: [0:21] Around five years ago we made a video about how to lock your bicycle and we graded people in their locking job. And we want to see if people have learned anything between now and five years ago. My gut feeling is that they're just as stupid as ever.
Kerri: [0:39] But I have a lot of experience at Recycle a Bicycle. We saw a lot of bike theft. So we heard every story there. So, are you ready? Let's cruise some bikes?
Hal: [0:46] Yeah, let's look for some bikes.
Kerri: [0:47] OK.
Hal: [0:47] Let's find some bikes. What do we have here?
Kerri: [0:49] OK. Let's look at this bike.
Hal: [0:51] Let's see, we have a frame and the rear wheel and the front wheel locked and the seat.
Kerri: [0:59] Wow.
Hal: [0:59] Whoa. A hose clamp here, very nice. That keeps your thief honest and it prevents the quick release from opening without somebody having either a screw driver or an eight millimeter wrench here to push the hose clamp off. And that's a square U-lock which you can't put a bolt cutter on.
Kerri: [1:19] It's on a long enough pole.
Hal: [1:21] The pole is in the ground quite securely.
Kerri: [1:23] I would say this is an A. They can't really get away with this bike or any of the parts.
Hal: [1:29] This is good.
Kerri: [1:30] This is pretty good.
Hal: [1:30] The bike seems secure and the thing is, when it's locked like this, you can't ride it away. Except for one little problem, we've got one little problem here. I don't know what that problem is. Do you know what that problem is? I would give this bike a C. This is $50 minimum. This is a terrible bike with a really good lock. Why'd they lock the front wheel?
Kerri: [1:53] There's no point in leaving slack in this chain. You might as well just go around the front wheel or the back wheel if it's closer.
Hal: [1:59] They still come in to... on bike TV, your lock up guy. I get this all the time, "Rate my lock."
Kerri: [2:06] Do they bring you out to the street and they have you look at the lock? Is it good Hal? Is it good?
Hal: [2:12] So look, here we have the carcass.
Kerri: [2:13] Oh!
Hal: [2:14] The Huffy Tempest. He meant well. They got the best lock you can buy. The seat is locked, but duh.
Kerri: [2:25] Yeah, the problem here is, I think, people themselves don't know how to take a rear wheel off. They think it's all complicated with all those pesky gears and everything in the back. So they think, "Oh, the bike thief isn't going to take it off either." But we're dealing with professionals here.
Hal: [2:38] To replace it costs you $120. You might as well buy another Huffy at Kmart, that costs $99. This is an F, because it's unridable. Now this is cute.
Kerri: [2:48] This is just art. Right? Or is this actually...?
Hal: [2:51] The front wheel is locked. The rear wheel is locked. And the fender is locked. I give it an A because the bike is so crappy.
Kerri: [3:00] And it literally has bird crap on it. So then this bike could just be here forever, Hal.
Hal: [3:06] It could be.
Kerri: [3:07] OK.
Hal: [3:08] Wow.
Kerri: [3:09] We've got two bikes here.
Hal: [3:10] We've got two bikes over here. Anybody with a two foot bolt cutter can easily cut this chain.
Kerri: [3:15] Somebody didn't want to buy a Kryptonite lock so they went to the hardware store and they tried to do their own.
Hal: [3:20] They bought the craptonite lock. There's the rear wheel, they think it's secure, but thieves have a five millimeter Allen wrench. You could steal this rear wheel in two seconds. You could steal the seat, also, with the same wrench.
Kerri: [3:34] And that seat too, that catches the eye.
Hal: [3:36] That's a nice seat. I think both these people got left back in seventh grade together because you bought the worst U-lock you can buy. You could break this lock so easily. You stick a two by four in here, wedge it up against here and you can pop this in a matter of five seconds. We're giving these people a group D.
Kerri: [3:57] Group D.
Hal: [3:58] Oh! There you got these things. These are your anti-theft locking skewers. Those need a hammer and a chisel to break. Has it on the front and the back wheel.
Kerri: [4:08] He or she has it on the front and also has the chain, this person had a bike stolen in the past and then they wanted this nice Kona and they did everything they could to make it theft-proof. I think we have to give this guy a little credit.
Hal: [4:22] I'm going to give him an A-.
Kerri: [4:25] Look how cute it is-when you're eight this is the lock that you got from your parents.
Hal: [4:31] I could probably chew through this.
Kerri: [4:34] I just want to steal it to get the lock because it's so cute. I don't know. It's the eyes, the eyes are watching you.
Hal: [4:43] C because it's just a bad bike.
Kerri: [4:46] This bike gets a B. We'll give this one an A, a C, and a C. He only locked his front tire. So they got the rest of the bike.
Hal: [4:55] This is an A; seat is locked, rear wheel is locked to the frame. The only thing is...
Kerri: [5:02] They could cut down the tree.
Hal: [5:03] Yeah, but that's... I don't even think thieves do that. We have a $300 rear wheel that's not locked. We give this bike a D.
Kerri: [5:14] A D.
Hal: [5:15] Nobody's going to steal this thing. You thought of your grandmother now. She was 10 when she lost the bike...
Kerri: [5:22] And she lost the key to the lock. So do you think things have improved in five years? Do you think people have learned how to lock up properly?
Hal: [5:30] They're getting smarter. After you get stuff stolen you realize you don't want that happening again. And they're learning still. Last time there were a whole mess of F's happening.
Kerri: [5:39] It's interesting seeing Hal's point of view, very jaded.

Clarence Eckerson Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

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  • fartond


  • swarm3d


  • truth_machine

    I didn't ask you, asshole.

  • swarm3d

    Thanks for putting me in my place. I won't comment on the Internet anymore!