What to Do If Someone Locked Their Bike to Yours

It’s tempting to go to the hardware store and try to break it, we know. But here’s what you should do instead.


Someone locked their bike to yours. You know it happens to everyone, but you never really expected it to happen to you. So what are you supposed to do now?

It’s hard to guess why someone would lock up their bike to yours. More often than not, it happens because your bike is the target of a thief, someone made an honest mistake, or they were in a hurry and being inconsiderate.

In this article, we are going to help you understand exactly what to do if you find your bike locked up to someone else’s. And, more importantly, we’ll discuss what not to do to avoid making your day worse.

Why Would Someone Lock Their Bike To Mine? 

There are good and bad reasons why someone would lock their bike to yours. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know why exactly someone would do it. 

Here are the two main reasons why someone would lock their bike to yours: 

Someone Wants to Steal Your Bike

Locking their bike to someone else’s locked bike in a public place is often how bicycle thieves start their process.

They notice your bike and target it as one that they want to steal. So they lock it to their cheap bike and walk away. In nighttime, they may hide out of sight. In the day, they may go away and come back when it’s dark and less crowded.

The thieves hope that you will notice the situation and go home to get the tools or plan to come back the next day to figure out a way to retrieve your bike. Meanwhile, once you leave the bike and come nighttime, they will swoop in, remove their lock, cut yours off, and steal your bike. 

Someone Made an Honest Mistake

If you parked your bike at a very busy bike rack that’s full of bikes, it’s sometimes hard to find a clear spot to safely lock your bike.

With multiple bikes all lined up together and locked up, it’s easy for someone to accidentally loop your lock into theirs, especially if they’re distracted and not being careful. 

This sometimes happens with newbie bikers or someone who had to leave their bike in a hurry. Chances are if someone did this by accident, they would be apologetic and able to help you get it unlocked so you can both be on your way.

Someone’s Being a Jerk

Suppose for a minute that you were the inconsiderate type of guy or gal—you know, the kind that doesn’t care much about what they do to others—and you wanted to lock your bike to a rack that was already full?

That’s right… Sadly, there’s the kind of cyclists who lock their bike up to someone else’s and then walk off. From their point of view, it’s a safe way to lock their bike. And who knows, maybe you might not even need yours!

What Should I Do If Someone Locked Their Bike To Mine? 

When you find out that someone locked their bike to yours, there are a few ways to get it unlocked so that you can get back out on the road. 

Here are the best things to do if (and when) you find yourself in this situation: 

Call the Police

It may seem dramatic to call the police, but, especially if you live in a bicycle-friendly city, this is usually your best option when you discover that someone’s bike is locked to yours.

Keep in mind that the police will want some form of proof of ownership, so try to keep something on you that proves that the bike is yours just in case this happens. Once they have confirmed it’s yours, they can help you break the lock and help you if anything else needs to happen with the other person. 

For one thing, the police have the right tools to help you safely cut through any type of lock. Besides, having them open the lock for you will prevent an uncomfortable situation if you are caught trying to break it open yourself. 

Ask Around 

If you left your bike outside a small shop or your workplace where you know people, you could consider asking around to see if you can find the person who might have done it.

Only do this if you feel comfortable and safe in the location you’re in and you’re fairly convinced that it isn’t someone trying to steal your bike, but rather just an accident.

As long as you keep the bike in sight, you should be good.

Should You Try to Cut the Bike Lock Off? 

It can be tempting to just take matters into your own hands and cut the bike lock off yourself and go on your way, but this is not always the best approach. Although this would get you back on your bike sooner and prevent any need for confrontation, it can cause other problems. 

If your bike is in a very public place—and others see you going at a bike lock with a pair of bolt cutters or another tool—it will inevitably raise some eyebrows. Someone may stop you and think that you are the thief and possibly even call the police. 

For this reason, it’s really best to get the police involved yourself. Even if you and the police officer end up working together to free the bike from the lock tangle, it’s almost always a better option than doing it yourself and hoping that you don’t get caught. 

The Long and the Short of It

When you discover that someone locked their bike to yours it can conjure a few different emotions including frustration, anger, confusion, and more. You might wonder what their motive is and why they chose your bike.

Sometimes people do make mistakes and accidentally link their bike to yours if they can’t get clear access to a good spot on a bike rack. This isn’t a great thing to do, but it might have been an honest mistake in that case.

However, many times this situation is because someone is targeting your bike to steal. If the bike that is locked to yours is much cheaper looking or beat up than yours, it’s probably just a placeholder so they can come back and steal yours once you give up and head home without your bike.

When this happens, it’s always best to get the police involved.

The police can help you unlock your bike and even pursue any charges if there is proof of damage or tampering evident from someone attempting to steal your bike. This is always a safer option than trying to break into the lock on your own and risking potential issues with the police yourself.

By Dim Nikov

City dweller. Recreational cyclist with a knack for writing. Always trying to find the right balance between life and bike.