Oxford second and Reading third on reported bike thefts per head of population

Cambridge has been named the UK’s bike theft capital in a report by Cambridgeshire County Council, with almost 2,500 bicycles stolen there each year, equivalent to one every three-and-a-half hours. Oxford was named as the second worst city for bike theft, with Reading coming in third.

The report looked at the ratio of reported bike thefts per '000 of population. And while Cambridge may not have enjoyed too much success in the Boat Race in recent years, it leaves Oxford in its wake when it comes to bike theft, which runs at a rate 75% higher than that found in its fellow university city, which trails in a distant second in the list of Britain’s bike crime hot-spots.

According to the report, compiled by the county council’s Cambridge Community Safety Partnership, 2,486 thefts of bicycles were recorded between September 2008 and August 2009, 8% higher than in the previous 12 months.

Last week, supermodel Lily Cole, a student at Cambridge University, was revealed to have become one of the latest victims of bike theft there when her Pashley Princess Sovereign was stolen. According to a report in the Daily Mail, the thieves detached the bicycle’s wicker basket before making off with it.

Miss Cole said at the time that she looked after her bike, refusing to leave it at the city’s railway station, recently criticised for its overflowing bike parking, which she described as “like a cesspit of cycles,” adding “I don't take my bike there. I don't think it's nice to put it in so much danger.”

James Woodburn from Cambridge Cycling Campaign, told Cambridge News: “Of course, we will have more bike thefts than Oxford because so many more people cycle here.

"But we still have far too few bike stands in the city centre - we need more racks outside pubs, bars, shops and doctors' surgeries.

"The situation is particularly poor at the station and I would be very hesitant to park a valuable bike there."

Mr Woodburn added: "I think many of the bike thefts are by drug addicts and alcoholics, who find it very easy to cut through cheap locks, but I'm quite sure there are organised gangs stealing more valuable bikes too."

Cambridgeshire Police is working with the the county and city councils to educate bicycle owners about how they can minimise the risk of theft, last year launching a ‘Lock It Or Lose It’ campaign.

You can find out more about cycling levels in Cambridge at the Cambridge Cycling Campaign website which is also plenty more useful information about cycling in Cambridge.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.