A new bike theft map has revealed the hotspots for crimes against cyclists across England and Wales.
The coronavirus lockdown in the UK sparked an unexpected rise in the number of bikes being stolen across the country at the start of the year, as more people turned to riding for both transport and fitness during the pandemic.
Now specialist cycling insurance (opens in new tab) provider Bikmo has unveiled a theft tracking tool for the public, which lets riders view reported thefts and see where the crime is most common.
Bikmo (opens in new tab) have also found that despite a major surge in bike thefts at the start of 2020, the number of bikes stolen last year actually dropped on previous years.
The data accumulated by Bikmo reveals that 74,573 bikes were stolen in England and Wales last year, with the City of London area of the capital, Cambridge and Hackney topping the list of bike theft hot spots.
Bikmo CEO David George said: “As more and more people begin to realise the many benefits of cycling during the Pandemic, it is only natural that fears around bike theft will rise.
“We are proud to today unveil a brand new public tool, allowing riders across the country to view annual bike theft rates in their local area and identity hotspots where crimes are being reported.
“The new tool will be regularly updated to provide an ongoing resource to members of the public. We hope this will be useful to the fast growing number of riders, and help increase awareness in high-risk areas.”
The City of London, the financial district of London, has by far the highest number of thefts with 6,345 per 100,000 residents in 2020.
Part of the reason for the extremely high number of bike thefts per resident in the City of London is the area's very low population (around 9,000) compared to other boroughs like Hackney (more than 270,000). The City of London is also home to a large number of office buildings, which is likely to mean there are also a high number of cyclists commuting to the area from other areas of London.
Cambridge was second on the list of bike crimes, with 1,531 thefts per 100,000 people, but the city actually showed a great improvement on 2019, with a 554 per cent drop in 2020.
Hackney in London had 943 thefts per 100,000, while the borough of Tower Hamlets in East London had 807, and Oxford 725.
The safest place for bikes in the UK is Greater Manchester, with Salford, Rochdale, Stockport, and Manchester all topping the table, with West Devon, according to Bikmo’s map, next in line with just seven thefts per 100,000 residents.
According Bikmo, despite the surge in bike thefts at the start of 2020, the total of 74,573 thefts across the year was actually lower than the 83,000 in 2019.
The data for the Bikmo map was taken from data.police.uk, with population data obtained via ONS, or from Wikipedia or other sources where none was avaiable.
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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