Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Elizabeth Abrams mainly cycled for fun, but when she moved to Washington, D.C., a fairly bikeable city, in 2020, her motivations for biking became much more practical.
Abrams did not want to take public transportation during the pandemic, and therefore, relied on her bicycle as the main form of transportation.
But months later, her bike got stolen from her back patio in Petworth, a neighborhood in the northwest quadrant of the city.
“I live with a few roommates and we had four bikes that were outside and we had them locked and overnight the lock was cut and all of the bikes were taken,” Abrams says.
Abrams tried to recover the bike by filing a police report and looked around on online websites such as Facebook Marketplace in hopes of finding her stolen bike listed for sale locally.
But none of her roommates, nor she, had any luck.
Although bike theft has always been a common issue, especially in urban areas, it increased during the pandemic in a number of cities. The pandemic led to an unprecedented boom in bikes sales. The rising demand, increase in ridership, and shortage of bikes nationwide among other factors, has likely contributed to a rise in theft, according to Bike Index, a nonprofit organization and national bicycle registry. Novice cyclists who picked up the habit recently or are relying more heavily on bikes for transportation may also be unaware of the basics of bike security — especially in urban areas.