Bicycle popularity in cities is growing. Not only do they provide clean and cheap mobility, help reduce traffic congestion, and keep the air more breathable, but the health and fitness angle is a also a great pull for many commuters. Yet, one little problem remains: bike theft. But the clever folks at Skunk Lock have come up with an interesting idea to tackle it.
Urban centres around the world are busy promoting greener, cleaner, and safer transport infrastructure for cyclists. In the Netherlands and in Germany, some truly innovative initiatives are on the drawing board. In Maryland, USA, urban planners have developed an online platform to help cyclists navigate their way around ‘stress areas’ on roads, and in South Korea, cyclists can ride in the middle of a motorway, safely tucked under a canopy of solar panels.
So, commuters enticed, rain-kits organised, bikes serviced and ready to go…only one little issue remains, and in some places it may be enough to put people off riding a bike altogether: bike theft. In the US alone, between 800,000 and two million bikes are stolen every year. So what do to?
Bye Bye Bike Theft: A Matter of (un)Common Scents?
An entrepreneurial duo from California have come up with just the solution: a bike lock that when tampered with releases a very unpleasant and sickening gas, which literally causes the would-be-thief to vomit, and therefore abandon their illegal pursuit. The aptly named Skunk Lock is a U-Lock made from hardened carbon steel, and which contains in its body a special noxious formula “made up of naturally occurring fatty acids commonly found in rancid butter, parmesan cheese, and our very own vomit”.
The designers point out that their Skunk Lock is not 100 per cent secure. Although the hardened steel used makes the Skunk Lock bolt-cut resistant (this means that it cannot be cut in under four seconds) one determined thief with the right tools, and/or a little more time, will be able to cut through it. However, the team are also keen to point out that no lock on the market is completely thief-proof: whether mechanical, such as chain or U-locks, or ‘smart’, such as those with alarms, GPS tracking, finger prints readers etc. they can all be disabled through either a cutter or a lock pick, or, in the case of smart locks, through hacking.
The core idea with the Skunk Lock is to act as a deterrent, and to therefore discourage thieves to even begin to attempt to cut the lock. And as thieves may generally favour quick and easy targets, rather than risk getting sick, attract unwanted attention from passers by, through the commotion of the gas and the smell, and their looking unwell – well it sounds as if the Skunk Lock may indeed deliver on its promise.
Retailing at 119 USD, the Skunk Lock’s price is halfway between the minimum and maximum price of premium cut-bolt resistant locks currently on the markets. The team is currently busy producing its first Skunk Lock orders, which will be shipped out in mid-2017. For more information, and to place an order, you can head to their website.
And here’s how it works: