As one of advancing age, I am not usually in too much of a hurry. Slow food, slow cycling. So when I stop off at the local Co-op on my way home from work I never really face the question is it worth locking the bike? I just lock it up every time.
Although just yesterday at a different shop the bike was in sight of the door and I only stopped for a newspaper and the papers were up this end of the shop so I didn’t lock the bike. Haven’t we all been there?
Here is my bike safely locked up at my usual spot:
Items not secured include gloves on rack, front wheel, front and rear lights. So far I’ve never had anything stolen off my bike in Alsager. (City dwellers: If you want to come and live here, it’s in South Cheshire.)
A few metres away was this bike, completely unsecured:
I watched it for a minute or two until its owner emerged and rode away. He was about 40 and wearing cycling gear. Didn’t he care? Perhaps hes’s never had a bike stolen or never lived in London? (I have done both.) Perhaps he’s left his bike unlocked many times and thinks this means it’s safe to do so, like the person who has tossed a coin twenty times and got heads each time. Of course I’ll go on getting heads, they tell themselves: Look! It always lands on heads!
That reminds me of an incident at this very spot, a large dog of the attack variety, bred to kill, tied to the railings with a very small child looking after it. Dog barks, child shouts at it, dog gets more frenzied, child hits it…. Mother appears shouting at child and dog, I warn mother that she risks losing that child so she shouts at me, strangers tell me they agree with me….
All of these incidents involve the calculation of risk. Mathematicians would turn to game theory: Plus 1 point for not locking. (Time saved) Minus one for locking. Minus 1000 for having the bike nicked. Minus ??? for having your child eaten by your dog. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen child, dog or mother since that day. Perhaps they’ve gone to live in the city.