Hello and welcome back to weekly lifehacks, a recurring series where we share a simple tip on how to make your life just a little bit easier (and we promise not to overuse the word “hack”).
Losing your bike key is a New York City terror on par with having a rat run over your foot in your sleep or accidentally putting your subway hand anywhere near your mouth. It can basically be the equivalent of forfeiting your bike, sacrificing it forever to the permanent landscape of the city, never to be rescued. It’s like your bike got a very literal locked-in syndrome: you can see it, you can touch it, but you can’t free it from it’s U-lock prison. We saw this issue tackled in Broad City‘s premiere this season, where a key dropped down a drain trapped Ilana in a bike chain of oppression all day. Some of the many bike carcasses you see hopelessly latched to street signs and lamp posts around the city have surely been victims of lost-key related abandonment.
Losing your key is demoralizing, and there’s no way to rescue your bike without also looking like you’re stealing it (you can’t exactly walk up to a bike rack with a mini power saw). But there is one way to ensure you get your bike back: register your keys.
The Kryptonite lock company — the most popular brand of bike locks — lets you register your keys for exactly the purposes of replacing them if you lose it. Most times, they’ll send you the first two replacement locks free too. Other bike lock companies such as On Guard and Master Lock offer key registration too. Do it! Do it as soon as you get the locks; you can find the key number on the back of the black part of the key. Put one on your key chain and the backup somewhere safe in your apartment that you won’t forget or lose, like in your condom drawer or your freezer.
If you have a combination lock, you can register that too in case you lose/forget that, but honestly you should probably just put that in an email to yourself so you don’t forget it.
For what it’s worth, you can also register your bike at your local NYPD precinct: they’ll etch a serial number into it for identification in case it’s stolen and recovered. It couldn’t hurt but recovering a stolen bike is the stuff of NYC fairy tales.
And if you should drop a key down a sewer grate like Ilana, don’t try to use gum to get it. Use a magnet attached to a something heavy like a padlock on the end of a string — it worked during the Depression, it works for people fishing for loose change, it can work for you.
Thanks to Brad Pearson for this tip!
Got a lifehack you think Brokelyn readers would enjoy? Send to email@example.com and we’ll give you a shoutout in the post!