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Five tips to avoid getting your bike stolen in Paris

As Parisians increasingly take to two wheels to get around, bike thieves have become a major problem. Here's some tips on keeping your bicycle safe.

Five tips to avoid getting your bike stolen in Paris
The bike is becoming more and more popular in Paris. Photo: AFP

If you ask Parisians what the worst thing about cycling in the capital is, many will say “getting your bike stolen.”

Paris is notorious for its high bicycle theft rates. So far in 2020, nearly 5,000 bikes have been reported stolen to the police, more than the average annual number of around 4,600 thefts (13 thefts per day).

The increasing number of thefts could be related to the bicycle boom caused by first the 2019 winter transport strikes and the subsequent Covid-19 health crisis, which both pushed Parisians to choose the bike over other means of transport.

READ ALSO: Why are cyclists in Paris more numerous than ever? 

But there are ways to reduce your chances of being a victim of theft. Here's a list.

1. Don't buy an expensive bicycle

For a start don't buy a really expensive bike, unless you know that you can keep it indoors and never will have to leave it unguarded outside.

You can easily get a second hand bike for less than €100 or an average standard bike from a corner bike shop or a chain like Decathlon. Just don't go for the fancy race bike (honestly, how often will you get out of the capital to make real use of it?)

2. Invest in the lock

Instead of spending money on your bike, get a really good lock. 

U-locks are the best, according to French bike shop Cyclable

READ ALSO: Forget the Paris bike scheme chaos, there is a better solution

Get a solid U-lock that doesn't easily break. If you want to see how quickly a thief can snap a lock without drawing suspicion in Paris, check out this video from French daily Le Parisien. The thief undoes the lock in no more than 13 seconds, while looking like he's just unlocking the bike.

 

3. Be smart when locking the bike

Lock the bike to a structure that's permanently attached to the ground (so not a really thin tree as thieves will just saw through it).

Check that the bike stand has not been sawed through at the bottom, a trick that thieves routinely make use of in Paris.

And lock the whole frame, not just the wheel, unless you want this to happen:

 

4. Mark your bike

Around 150,000 stolen bikes are found in France every year, but only 3 percent of these are identifiable and can be returned to their owners, according to Cyclable.

As of 2021, marking new bikes will be mandatory, but you can easily get one now. Ask at the bike shop, or check out Recobike or Bicycode. The operation costs something between €5 and €10 and it gives you a bike passport and number and you can register your bike online. 

'It's not yet Amsterdam': What Paris must do to be a world leading cycling capital

5. Make sure you have an insurance

You can get an insurance at the bike shop, although your house insurance should cover any theft (usually there are some conditions like the bike being locked up).

Vocab

Vélo – bike 

Cadenas – lock 

Antivol – lock 

Casque – helmet

Piste cyclable – bike lane

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LIVING IN FRANCE

France to roll out ID cards app

Technology is being rolled out to allow people to carry their French ID cards in an app form - and could be rolled out to other cards, including driving licences and cartes de séjour residency cards.

France to roll out ID cards app

Holders of French carte d’identité (ID cards) will soon be able to carry certified digital versions of them on their smartphone or other electronic devices, a decree published in the Journal Officiel has confirmed.

An official app is being developed for holders of the newer credit card-format ID cards that have information stored on a chip. A provisional test version of the app is expected at the end of May.

Users will be able to use the ID card app, when it becomes available, for a range of services “from checking in at the airport to renting a car”, according to Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market.

All French citizens have an ID card, which can be used for proving identity in a range of circumstances and for travel within the EU and Schengen zone – the new app will be in addition to the plastic card that holders already have.

Under the plans, after downloading the app, card holders will need merely to hold the card close to their phone to transfer the required information. According to officials, the holder then can decide what information is passed on – such as proof of age, or home address – according to the situation.

The government has not given any examples of situations in which the app would need to be used, but has set out the main principles and the ambition of the plan: to allow everyone to identify themselves and connect to certain public and private organisations, in particular those linked to the France Connect portal.

READ ALSO What is France Connect and how could it make your life simpler?

Cards will continue to be issued for the foreseeable future – this is merely an extension of the existing system.

Only French citizens have ID cards, but if successful the app is expected to be rolled out to include other cards, such as driving licences, cartes de séjour residency cards or even visas. A digital wallet is being developed at the European level – Member States have until September to agree what it could contain.

READ ALSO Eight smartphone apps that make life in France a bit easier

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