Seismograph

And these are only the ones that get reported. 

Where are bike poachers most active in San Francisco? For an answer, try scanning this enlightening map from data outfit Seismograph: It shows the 813 reported bicycle thefts of 2013 laid out as angry-red blotches (much like the ones on your face the last time this happened to you).

Smaller circles represent one purloined bike; the concentric, target-looking circles show the sites of multiple thefts. Write the folks at Seismograph (motto: "To be honest, we're not entirely sure what Seismograph is yet"):

The trends are somewhat as expected. Market Street between 6th and 4th, the Ferry Building, CCSF, 16th and Mission BART and the general hospital are all popular spots for bike theft. Nonetheless, I still found the dataset interesting.

The largest grouping of thefts, around the Powell Street BART, makes sense: It's a hub of commuter and tourist activity where stealing might be lost in the bustle of the crowd. (It's also near a large, open-air drug market, which may or may not influence the numbers of bikes going AWOL.) And the preponderance of stealing in the Mission likely has something to do with the neighborhood's bike-loving populace: walking there at times can be like navigating through a highly fashion-conscious velodrome.

Seismograph has also put together a crude timeline of bike thefts based on the police statements of the unwillingly bike-deprived:

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition estimates that a bike is stolen in the city every three hours, which if accurate would represent a much larger theft rate than what's represented in the 2013 data. The local police are well aware of the problem. They run a responsive Twitter account that asks people to send pictures of their missing rides. And this year, they're experimenting with putting "bait bikes" of various conditions around town; when thieves take one, hidden GPS trackers and RFID tags lead a trail to their doorstep. The cops say this effort has led to several arrests.

Anyone worried about having their bike ganked can also indulge in the police department's psychological-warfare campaign: It's flooding the city with thousands of stickers that read, "Is This A Bait Bike?" Head to any district station to get one, then slap it on your frame and have fun messing with the heads of would-be thieves.

Park Station

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a full parking lot with a double rainbow over it
    Transportation

    Parking Reform Will Save the City

    Cities that require builders to provide off-street parking trigger more traffic, sprawl, and housing unaffordability. But we can break the vicious cycle.   

  2. a map comparing the sizes of several cities
    Maps

    The Commuting Principle That Shaped Urban History

    From ancient Rome to modern Atlanta, the shape of cities has been defined by the technologies that allow commuters to get to work in about 30 minutes.

  3. A woman looks straight at camera with others people and trees in background.
    Equity

    Why Pittsburgh Is the Worst City for Black Women, in 6 Charts

    Pittsburgh is the worst place for black women to live in for just about every indicator of livability, says the city’s Gender Equity Commission.

  4. Transportation

    Why Are Little Kids in Japan So Independent?

    In Japan, small children take the subway and run errands alone, no parent in sight. The reason why has more to do with social trust than self-reliance.

  5. a photo of volunteers packing meals for food-insecure individuals during an event in New York on the anniversary of 9/11.
    Life

    Why Americans Stopped Volunteering

    The terror attacks on September 11, 2001, inspired a national surge in civic spirit. But volunteering rates have been declining over the last two decades.

×