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LAPD pushes for DTLA 'bike valets' to help curb high bike theft rates

By Hayley Fox
Published: Friday, November 16, 2012, at 09:41AM
Flickr via whyamiKeenan

After the LAPD launched a coupon campaign to offer discount u-locks, they are now trying to establish a new system of bike valets to help curb Downtown bike theft.

In reaction to nearly 120 bike thefts in Downtown in the last four months alone, the LAPD has developed a new strategy to help prevent the crimes before they happen: Bike valets.

These systems would work much like a car valet does (but hopefully a little less expensive). Central Division Senior Lead Officer Jack Richter is working with Downtown businesses to develop these valets for cyclists. He explains the process like this: You walk your bike up to a check-in station, receive a claim ticket in exchange for the bike, and are most likely charged a minimal fee.

But would riders actually use a bike valet?

Richter said there are similar systems set up on the Westside that are frequently used by cyclists, and referenced a valet set up at Olvera Street during CicLAvia that was also packed with people. Downtown events like Grand Performances have employed the help of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition to provide a two-wheel valet service at many of their concerts as well.

Richter said restaurants and hotels with car valet systems in place should find it fairly easy to find a secure place to store bikes.

Richter said he is beginning this process by focusing on some of the areas that have a lot of bike theft, and have already gotten two bike shops to sign on to the project. DTLA Bikes on Broadway, and Downtown LA Bicycles on Hill Street, have already agreed to participate, he said.

These stores are also involved with the police department's u-lock coupon campaign, which gives riders a $5 discount on Kryptonite u-locks to encourage them to buy these locks instead of the easily breakable chains. Dan Farahirad, manager of Downtown LA Bicycles, said u-locks start at around $30 and go upwards to $200 or $300.

According to police, nearly every bike that's been stolen in recent months was because a rider had left it unlocked or unattended, or it was secured with a easily penetrable lock. They recommend only using u-locks and locking your bike to a fixed bike rack.


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