Data Shows Railways Stations are the Worst Places to Leave Bikes

Research commissioned by ProtectYourBubble shows locations with the highest theft incidence

Data released today shows the places where a bicycle is most likely to be stolen, and train stations topped the list when it came to specific locations.

The study was based on police crime data and was commissioned by bicycle insurer Protect Your Bubble.

In the process of totting up the information they noted that in a twelve-month period 82,000 bikes were stolen – that’s 227 a day. Worryingly, in 72 per cent of cases the thieves were not prosecuted.

The top location was Elder Gate at Milton Keynes railway station. In the past year 72 bikes were stolen from the parking area on the street and a further 19 from another location on the road, which runs around the front of the station.

The second location, Meridian Square in Newham is next to a railway station in East London – close to Westfield shopping centre and the Olympic park which is home to Lee Valley Velodrome. There, 71 bikes were stolen between October 2015 and September 2016.

Next on the list was Station Road in Cambridge – which saw 63 thefts and is also next to a mainline railway station.

Top Bike Theft Locations in England & Wales – October 2015 to September 2016
Rank Location City/Borough Council Area Number of Thefts
1 Elder Gate Milton Keynes 72
2 Meridian Square Newham 71
3 Station Road Cambridge 63
4 Ring Road North Birmingham 62
5 Parkside Cambridge 52
6 Commercial Road Portsmouth 51
7 Brunel Way Slough 50
8 Piccadilly Manchester 49
9 Chartwell Square Southend-on-Sea 47
10 Arundel Street Portsmouth 46


Cambridge was awarded the title of ‘bike theft capital’ – with the area managed by Cambridge City Council recording 2,173 thefts in the period from September 2015 to October 2016. Next in line were Manchester, Birmingham, Oxford and Hackney.

Bike thefts September 2015 to October 2016
Rank City/Borough Council area Number of Thefts
1 Cambridge 2,173
2 Manchester 1,874
3 Birmingham 1,502
4 Oxford 1,456
5 Hackney 1,440
6 Leeds 1,353
7 Cardiff 1,340
8 Bristol 1,295
9 Tower Hamlets 1,222
10 Westminster 1,185

Even when the researchers looked at the data in conjunction with population, they found that Cambridge had a theft rate of 16.6 per cent per 1,000 people. The overall rate, across the whole of England and Wales, is 1.4 per cent.

Rank City/Borough Council Bike thefts Population Thefts per 1,000 pop
1 Cambridge 2,173 130,907 16.6
2 Oxford 1,456 159,574 9.1
3 Hackney 1,440 269,009 5.4
4 York 1,069 206,856 5.2
5 Westminster 1,185 242,299 4.9
6 Norwich 666 138,872 4,8
7 Hammersmith and Fulham 852 179,410 4.7
8 Reading 731 161,739 4.5
9 Portsmouth 955 211,758 4.5
10 Camden 1,058 241,059 4.4
Cambridge Station bike parking (Image: Cambridge Cycling Campaign)

Of course we can expect there will be more bike thefts in places where more people cycle. Across the whole of England, the cycling population is around 9.5 per cent. In Cambridge it rises to 52 per cent, 33 per cent in Oxford, 27 per cent in York and 19 per cent in Hackney.

London seems to be pretty high in the theft-stakes – when all of the 33 boroughs were grouped together, the data revealed 18,000 thefts. By comparison, West Devon saw just 4 thefts all year.

Rob Basinger, head of UK at bicycle insurer Protect Your Bubble said: “When you contrast the cycle theft rate for Oxbridge with England and Wales, it’s abundantly clear these university towns are as popular with thieves as students. There’s no safety in numbers, either. In towns like Cambridge, a high number of cyclists results in a high number of thefts.

“Bike theft is a nationwide issue but there are some streets that stand out as having a particular problem. Commuters leaving bikes at railway stations for any length of the time stand a chance of being targeted.

“If you have to leave your bike on the street then make sure it is locked securely and, as with any item of value, if you think it may be at risk then consider taking out insurance for extra peace of mind.”

No one likes returning to their bike to find it’s been stolen. A good lock is a good place to start, and we’ve got more tips to help you keep your pride and joy safe here. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to completely protect yourself, and insurance is always a good idea – read up on that here. 

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