Do I Have to Take Off My Bike Lights?

I despise taking my bike lights off my bicycle. I want to leave my lights attached to my bicycle and see them when I come back. Unfortunately, in a high theft place like San Francisco, you can’t do that. I’ve solved that problem with locking bike lights, so I CAN leave them on my bike when it’s unattended. But I’ve come to realize my locking lights can even trick other bike commuters into thinking I’m careless about my bike lights. Here’s my story…

One a Thursday evening, I locked my bike in a busy part of San Francisco near Union Square. Unfortunately, there were no bike racks nearby, so I had to lock it to a parking meter. Since I have locking bike lights and locking wheels, I was able to leave my bike with just a U-lock on the parking meter.

When I returned 4 or 5 hours later, I found a friendly note tucked in my U-lock.

A note tucked into my U-lock that has written on it: "2 the owner of the red public bicycle"
“2 the owner of the red public bicycle” they wrote.

Inside the letter I found a note that started nice and sarcastic, but became downright condescending. (I re-wrote the text of the letter below)

Holding  up a note that reads: "Call me a good samaritan or the Rear Light Angel of warfare against jank and in the name of good people who don't  deserve  their bike lights stolen while they finish their shift or whatever it is you're doing but yeah...take that shit off while you're bike remains unattended. TBH I'm surprised you still have your rear wheel let alone your bike lights. In any event, Happy Holidays."
Gotta show off my bike to work day bag.

The letter read: “Call me a good samaritan or the Rear Light Angel of warfare against jank and in the name of good people who don’t deserve their bike lights stolen while they finish their shift or whatever it is you’re doing but yeah…take that shit off while you’re bike remains unattended. TBH I’m surprised you still have your rear wheel let alone your bike lights. In any event, Happy Holidays.”

Wow, that became confrontational. I still have my rear wheel because I use bike wheel locks (specifically these for my solid axle wheels on the Public bike). And I still have my bike lights because I use these anti-theft bike lights. Or maybe it’s the non-enticing look of my bike or sheer luck. Whatever it is, having my components locked up gives me the freedom to not worry about the rare case when someone REALLY wants to steal your stuff.

This kind of letter may be relevant to many other bicyclists who are using more common detachable lights. Luckily in my case, I was prepared with my locking lights. Of course it would be best if the root cause of all this theft was solved, but for now, problems like stolen bike lights and stolen wheels have solutions that are in our control.

I hope to bring more awareness to the availability of locking lights and other alternatives so people don’t have to take off their bike lights after all.

Putting my bike lights on and off my bicycle is another step of inconvenience that may prevent me from biking if something else is easier. If you want to make your locking experience easier, check out all the other tools I use to simplify my bike locking experience.

Happy Biking!

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