Chicago is fast becoming the cycling capital of America. The Divvy bike sharing system was unveiled just this year, and almost immediately, it became one of the most popular and successful bike share programs in the world. With 4,000 bicycles and plans for extension, Divvy fulfills a need that has plagued the people of Chicago for years: the need for better, more practical transportation. But as it turns out, Divvy is just the tip of the iceberg. Chicago is also raising the bar for bicyclists on the business and technology fronts, with a number of revolutionary startups geared toward promoting bicycle culture and making life better for cyclists.
BikeSpike is taking bicycle security to the next level. This Chicago-based company has developed an anti-theft device for bicycles, which alerts the owner to any tampering and even tracks the bicycle's movement using GPS. Given all of the emerging technologies that allow smart phone owners to locate their parking spot in a crowded mall, it seems natural that someone would take this theory to the next practical level and use it for security. Think of it as LoJack for your bicycle.
The Bike Index is another startup that is changing the game in terms of security for bicycles. The company is working on creating a universal registry, which will make it easier to identify stolen bikes and capture those responsible for the theft. The founder got the idea for the company after working at a local bike shop and listening to the seemingly endless flow of heartbreaking stories from bike theft victims who failed to register their bicycles.
It's great to see passionate entrepreneurs using their love of cycling as motivation to create new and better security measures, but sadly, bicycles are still stolen every hour of every day in America. If you're a cyclist, remember to always lock your bike using a powerful U-Lock (these have been shown to be the most effective for theft deterrence). Lock your bike in well-lit areas whenever possible and always take time to register any new bicycle immediately upon purchasing it. Until we do have a universal registry in place, the responsibility lies with all of us, and it costs nothing to register a bicycle.