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just a quick update on a few upcoming Bikes.SE initiatives. Please chime in with any questions, concerns or improvements.

  • Water Bottles - Jin is working on a design that incorporates your recommendations. That design will hit the meta board for pressing last-minute input before it goes to the presses. The beautiful bottles should be available for purchase in the Stack Exchange store and free to high-rep users by the middle of September, if not earlier.

  • Bike Contest for Victims of Theft

    • We're still working on securing a sponsor for this campaign. It is looking increasingly likely that we will go ahead with the contest without a sponsor. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - it means we can give what we want, where we want - though it may limit our budget for near-future initiatives.
    • Location: I'm strongly considering limiting the scope of this contest to NYC + NJ or just the 5 boroughs. This is the first Bicycles.SE contest and I want to make sure it is a success. It will be easier to make it so if I/we focus efforts within a defined area - a city where bike theft is rampant & I can get my hands greasy. If this works, the rest of the US, Canada, the UK & Down Under will get a shot at winning something awesome before long.
    • I've been emailing mods in re: a vetting process to ensure contestants are real-life victims of bike theft. Most victims I know never filed a police report and long ago lost a receipt - if they ever got one in the first place; documentation of bike theft is a tenuous thing. One Solution: Require that contestants provide 10 "witness" upvotes. While this too can be faked, the mere opportunity to win a new bike doesn't seem worth the effort of convincing 10 friends to register & vote under false pretense.
  • Local Bike Shop (LBS) "Stack Artifact" - As @Jason S brought to our attention, this community could use a token to provide to fellow riders and bike shop employees that says "Ask your bike questions here. Share your bike knowledge with us." Are we talking about stickers? I'm not sure. Maybe I'm desensitized to the novelty of stickers. Do cyclists have a use for stickers - maybe something reflective? What would you be inclined to stick on your helmet? What would you want to carry with you on an organized charity ride? What would a shopkeeper be inclined to keep in a stack next to the cash register? Think cheap, eye-catching, useful. Maybe there's something that riders can use in winter? Let's get some ideas and try to get something finalized by the end of the month. Personally, I'm looking forward to hitting up my Williamsburg bike shops with these little swaggerlicious goodies.

What ya think!?

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    The Bike Contest is currently being discussed informally in the chat room. Not that people shouldn't post ideas here as well, of course. – Neil Fein Aug 25 '11 at 6:02
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    Yes! Check chat for a brainstorm on the contest. Please chip in! – samthebrand Aug 25 '11 at 7:20
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    a focus on locality is tough when your audience is worldwide, and may lead a lot of other users to feel left out. I advise caution there. Based on these stats, only about 30% of our audience is from the USA.. fyi. blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/12/stack-overflow-2010-analytics – Jeff Atwood Aug 26 '11 at 3:30
  • @Jeff Initially, I wanted this contest to be global. I know we're all from everywhere. But this is a pilot program, in some sense, and I'm curious to see how it works and make sure it works. The next big campaign goes worldwide. – samthebrand Aug 26 '11 at 14:03
  • @Sam I think that requiring some official documentation of a stolen bike - from the police, insurance company, bike shop, etc. would be reasonable. – David LeBauer Aug 31 '11 at 5:10
  • whatever happened to the water bottles? – freiheit Jan 22 '12 at 23:21
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Local Bike Shop (LBS) "Stack Artifact"

A couple of ideas for this:

  1. Small Tools - tyre levers, multitool, mini pump (if that's cheap enough).
  2. Reflective items - stickers (I see quite a few reflective yellow smiley faces on rucksacks and panniers), armbands / legbands, "Sam Browne" belts, rucksack / pannier covers.
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Local Bike Shop (LBS) "Stack Artifact"

Specifically addressing this point: Helmets these days are mostly ventilated, and will adhere to them in any useful manner. I agree that stickers are pretty common and easy to ignore. I'm typing up few thoughts, and will assume that not everyone who reads this is familiar with bicycles.

If any of this seems like a good idea, there are threads about some of these already on the site regarding what safety equipment is most effective. Will try to dig up links and continue to add to this.

  • Head badges. The logo of this site is a head badge, and there's already been a request for the vector art so one user can cut a head badge. (Here's a picture of one.) Perhaps a head badge would start some conversations.

    Disadvantage: Small, not a lot of room for a logo or URL, they take some work to attach and most bikes already have one. Advantage: These are way cool and have a wow-factor.
  • Blinkies. Everyone who wants to cycle at night needs one: A light at the back of the bike or on their helmet. These are cheap and made of plastic. Is there any way to brand one as a giveaway? (Here's a picture of a blinky. There are many other kinds you can hang from your helmet or your belt or the back of a bag. There are even some you can stick in the spokes of your wheels to make you visible from the sides.)

    Disadvantage here is that these are quite small, and there's not a lot of room to print a URL. However, they are cheap - maybe $5 or $10; the expensive ones don't go uch higher than $30 until you get to the expensive super-bright rechargeable lights.

    Related question: Which is safer, head/tail lights which blink or emit a steady beam?

  • Safety/high-visibility gear. These come in the form of lightweight vests, like the ones road workers wear (some people cycle in them), or tape you can use to stick on your bike frame, or lightweight jackets for riding (getting more expensive, here - around US $50 to $100 and up for the crazy-light roadie stuff.

    I particularly like the idea of Bicycles.SE safety vests, as they're inexpensive and quite visible to motorists. However, not a lot of people wear them. Maybe we can help change that?

    Related question: Safety vests: Yellow or Orange?

  • Bags. Not larger ones like panniers or trunk bags but saddle bags or inexpensive handlebar bags, or even inexpensive backpacks. Or even saddle bags (those are the ones that are mounted under a bike's saddle, usually holding tools and what to change a flat).

  • +1 for bags and high-visibility gear. – amcnabb Jul 6 '12 at 21:31
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Can we combine stickers and bike theft?

What if the stickers were 'free anti-theft bike register' stickers with some instructions.

The stickers would have a unique ID on them and people put that number on their bikes.se profile? Some URL re-writes would help, e.g. bikes.se/[MD 5 checksum bit.ly style code] going through to some profile search page/redirect feature.

Extra stickers for the steerer and inside the seat post would make plain stickers nearly usefully effective.

There are police schemes running in the UK that work on similar lines with an 'etch' sticker that does the UV thing on the B/B.

The benefit would be that people could sign across a sold bike to a new owner by themselves - with existing schemes this is hard to do.

If the stickers are given out by legit bike shops then there should be some control element stopping thieves taking un-stickered bikes and labelling them up.

I think that this is a 'security engineering' problem that can be solved for the greater good.

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    Nice thought, but since there are already several systems that register bikes and none of them are widely used, any scheme that tries to do this better would have to both: (a) find a way to overcome the low-priority generally given to stolen bikes by law enforcement, and (b) overcome that these databases generally aren't checked. Perhaps finding a way to check all of them at once could be valuable? – Neil Fein Aug 25 '11 at 3:40
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We're already covering the bidon angle, how about musettes? The light canvas bag which is traditionally given to riders at food stops: useful for short trips to the shop, big enough for space for lots of logos, quite cheap and designed to be disposable - or given to kids as souvenirs!

  • +1 musette bags come in handy in every day life. – David LeBauer Oct 12 '11 at 4:14
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More Artifact Ideas

I'm thinking around cheap giveaway items I've seen around.

However, I never see anything useful for free in a shop, only flyers, cards and the like. Freebies I've seen are always around events like organized rides, races, bike to work day, expos, etc.

  • stickers are common and cheap. Also likely to go unused and just get tossed
  • retro-reflective stickers in various small sizes might get used by commuter types to increase night visibility. Back of fender, side of crank arms, seat stays, etc could all stand a little free retroreflective decoration. Retroreflective stuff is a little harder to get
  • patch kit (can brand with sticker).
  • bottle cleaning or hydration pack cleaning powder
  • electrolyte tablets (to add to a bottle of water)
  • bottle opener
  • trouser cuff retention device (branded 18" Velcro thing)
  • mini first aid kit (bandages)
  • sunscreen wipes
  • deodorant wipes
  • moist towelettes

Look at what New Belgium Brewing does, they have a good amount of cheap little branded bike-related items.

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Artifacts

  • Cycling Cap with logo

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