It happens to every cyclist, sooner or later. You come out of the store, or a bar, or a spontaneous overnight sexual escapade, and find your bike is gone and the naked “No Parking” sign you locked it around is all, “Who, me? What?” It doesn’t even have to be the entire bike, either. Some people refer to that early-morning homeward trek in yesterday’s clothes as the Walk of Shame, but actually, the real Walk of Shame is when you’re down to one wheel and none of the bike shops are even open yet and you have to schlep the frame across town like a dork, hoping it’s not going to cost more than $50.
And San Francisco has a notorious problem with bicycle thieves: some 4,085 bikes were stolen in 2012. That’s almost one every two hours. However, some enterprising college students in Chile developed a prototype for a theft-proof bike whose lock is built into the frame itself. It’s called Project Yerka and the only way you can steal one is to destroy the bike in the process. There’s only the single prototype just yet (and it has snazzy blue and purple rims). The inventors told Esquire it’ll be on the market in “six to eight months, tops,” and that they’re working on variations that lock via cell phone instead of with a key. The bike is elegant, and it could help spur urban cycling’s popularity.
Of course, the un-stealable bike has yet to be tested on the chop-shop under the Central Freeway where not even Stanley Roberts’ glower could get the bike thieves to mend their ways. Always remember that you don’t own your bike; you’re merely borrowing it from the universe, as even the best locks don’t always work. (Having a really ugly or really heavy bike helps, though.)
There are other glimmers of hope for victims of bike theft, with better registration and dummy bikes planted by the SFPD as bait. More baroque still, cops lying in wait in people’s garages. One way or another, the epidemic might soon be over – and in the meantime, if you do lose your bike, it could very well end up in the city’s stolen bike warehouse. Don’t give up all hope.