Design Responses > About Locks >

Research into motor vehicle theft [Webb 2005] shows that improved lock security, particularly immobilizers, reduces theft. Whilst ‘integrated’ immobilisers for bikes are uncommon (with some exceptions, use of robust locks and secure locking practices may reduce the vulnerability of parked bikes to theft). Weak locks are unlikely to deter offenders (cable and coil locks under 10mm are particularly vulnerable to cutting). Some of the stronger locks, however, are heavy and cumbersome to carry on a bike, and so it is important to determine if the types of locks used by cyclists (or designed for them) are appropriate for the risk of theft and other conditions of use.

If a lock can be easy to carry and use and robust against attack then it is ahead of most locks in the marketplace as typically those currently available are the result of a ‘troublesome tradeoff’ between ease of use and resistance to abuse. Those that are most secure are often least convenient, usually as a result of the weight of material used to resist attack. The typology in this section illustrates this. It shows the most common lock designs currently in use and considers their strengths and weaknesses.

To overcome these ‘troublesome tradeoffs' it may be useful for a designer to consider lock design in relation to the risk, effort and reward associated with a lock's use and abuse (breakage). The case studies in this section show some innovative solutions that consider how this might be achieved.

There is no perfect lock on the market. Who the user is, and where they want to park their bike, produces different requirements and risks in terms of variables to be considered (weight, robustness versus ease of carriage). Also to design a lock that ‘works’ for its user it is necessary to Know the Enemy to understand how thieves break locks (theft MO’s) and to be aware of the most secure way of locking a bike to resist these theft techniques: risk, effort, reward, secure, locking practice.

©2008 // DESIGN AGAINST CRIME RESEARCH CENTRE // LONDON WC1B 4AP fully funded by the AHRC / EPSRC Designing for the 21st Century Initiative