This is interesting. Look. Between 2005 and 2009, the number of Oregon residents biking to work increased nearly 60 percent as reported by the US Census Bureau. During this same period, bike thefts in Oregon, as reported by the state government, went down. They went down a lot actually, by nearly 40 percent.
So you have more people riding their bikes to work more regularly in oregon, but less bike theft. Now this is just over time. If we look at a scatter plot of commuters compared to reported bike thefts then we see that the more commuters there are the less bike thefts are reported.
We’re not sure why this trend exists between the data, but it does beg an explanation.
One of the possible flaws in this analysis is that we’re using data from two different sources, the State of Oregon and U.S. Census Bureau.
Another weakness is that both of these sources are conservative in their reporting. Moreover, the Census data on bicycle commuting under reports the number of commuters because the Bureau classifies bicycle commuters as people who ride their bike three or more days per week. That means if someone rides their bicycle to work twice a week, they are not considered a bicycle commuter. Regarding bicycle thefts, many stolen bicycles are not reported to the police.
To recap, what we have are hard data as reported by government sources on the number of working people commenting on bike per year and the number of reported bike thefts per year. What’s unexpected is that these data seem to have an inverse relationship. We would expect bike thefts to increase with bike use, but apparently not in Oregon.