Worst London boroughs for bike thefts revealed as campaigners call for more secure cycle parking

Four bikes stolen: Amber Dowell on her third bike, Andre, in Scotland (supplied)
Four bikes stolen: Amber Dowell on her third bike, Andre, in Scotland (supplied)

Hackney has been named as the worst borough for bike thefts as campaigners called for action to prevent more than 20,000 cycles a year being stolen in London.

A total of 896 bikes were reported stolen in the east London borough between January and July this year, according to Met police figures, followed by Tower Hamlets (746), Westminster (664) and Camden (630).

The Clean Cities Campaign, which carried out the research that was published on Friday, said more than 50 bikes a day were reported stolen across the capital.

But it said the true figure was likely to be far higher as more than half of cyclists do not bother reporting the crime due to woeful clear-up rates. Last year 93.7 per cent of bike thefts reported to the Met went unsolved.

Campaigners are now urging Londoners who suffer a bike theft to share their stories on social media using the #StolenDreams hashtag to highlight the scale of the problem.

It came as the Commons public accounts committee warned that a lack of secure bike parking may discourage people from cycling.

It said the Government, which cut its walking and cycling budget by £233m in March, was “not on track” to meet its commitments to increase active travel nationally by 2025.

There are almost 5,000 bike hangars across London, offering safe storage space for 29,000 bikes.

Transport for London, which helps to fund borough cycling schemes, wants there to be 7,000 hangars by 2030, meaning there will be 42,000 secure spaces.

Amber Dowell, from Hackney, who has had four bikes stolen, said: “All of these bikes were locked up properly, but that wasn’t enough.

“If London wants to ease pressure on public transport, reduce air pollution, and help people stay fit and healthy, we desperately need more secure bike parking.”

The #StolenDreams campaign follows the #ThisIsAwkward initiative in 2022, when Londoners were asked to highlight the strange places they were forced to store their bike to keep it same. Some posted pictures of their bike beside their bed – while others showed it parked beside their toilet.

Ms Dowell said she kept her first London bike, which she named Ken, in her bedroom as she lived in a flat with no secure bike parking. He was stolen from outside a helpline where she was volunteering one night.

She had her second bike, Serge, stolen on her first night in Paris after a charity ride from London, meaning she lost her primary means of transport.

Her third bike, Andre, was stolen this Spring from outside a workplace that had no secure parking. Her fourth bike, Gary, was stripped of its parts when locked outside a church, only three days after she bought the cycle.

She said: “I’m on the waiting list for secure bike parking on our estate, but we’ve been told we won’t be a priority because our flat has a (non-secure) garden.”

Met police figures show that 18,345 bikes were reported stolen in London in 2022, and 21,173 in 2021.

Oliver Lord, from the Clean Cities Campaign said: “Our initial findings are that where residential storage has improved, we are seeing fewer bikes being stolen - but the pace of delivery is way too slow. We’re calling on Londoners to get in touch with their stories of cycle theft so we can apply more pressure and put an end to their stolen dreams.”

Garmon ap Garth, co-ordinator of Hackney Cycling Campaign, said: "We're pleased to support the #ThisIsAwkward campaign as part of our call for secure and affordable cycle parking in Hackney for all. Theft is a huge issue but we've been encouraged by the accelerated rollout of secure cycle storage in the borough and we hope the next Mayor of Hackney will commit to end the waiting list for these facilities as soon as possible."