I need to leave my bicycle locked up somewhere in the east loop overnight near Union Station - any suggestions for a (relatively) secure location?
Union Station (roughly at Jackson and Canal) is in an area many might call the West Loop or the Near West Side. You might get more responses if you update your title. (I don't have any good suggestions for secure places to lock in that area, btw.)
Lots of different factors at work when trying to identify "safe" vs. "safer" locations and practices when locking up a bike overnight in the Loop.
The CSBR gets a lot of reports of bike thefts around CTA and Metra stations. Particularly popular seem to be Ogilvie, Union Station, Clybourn Metra and Logan Square CTA. I suspect the reason is that once a bike is parked at these locations, the thieves can assume they have some time (8 hours or longer) to steal the bike at their leisure. I try to avoid locking at CTA and Metra stations.
You are going to want to lock up with two pretty decent locks (newer u-locks with flat keys and/or heavy duty security chain (Abus, Krytptonite, OnGuard Giant, each of which retail for north of $65). Locks should have two shackles as opposed to the single shackle with a bent foot design. No grey or black Kryptonites-you have to go yellow or orange.
Foot traffic in the area in and of itself isn't a theft deterrent. We get numerous reports from people who locked with a cable lock on a busy street completely oblivious to the fact that a thief with a 12-inch set of bolt cutters were able to "liberate" their bike in less time than they could have done themselves with the key or combination (10-15 seconds).
If it were me, I'd get away from Union Station, go further east and lock near the Federal Reserve Bank at Jackson and LaSalle, or across the street on Jackson in front of the Board of Trade. I would not park on Wells or any of the side streets immediately east or west of the Board of Trade. You want to keep your bike somewhere where there's ample foot and police traffic, visibility, surveillance cameras, and where sparks and noise from angle grinders might attract attention. I would use a Kryptonite New York U-Lock and an Abus security chain. After losing a saddle and seatpost last year on Clark near Madison, I've also started covering my saddle with a bag most times I lock up in the Loop. I have also filled hex bolts with grease and quick drying epoxy to prevent casual theft of components and saddles. (I don't know if you've ever had to ride a bike several miles while standing up, but trust me, it's pretty unpleasant).
Whatever you do and wherever you park, you will also need a certain amount of luck. So I'll be the first to wish you good luck and let us know how it turns out.
Is this a once off or are you looking for a regular place to lock overnight? I may be able to help you out if it is a one time thing. I have a space about a mile away that could work.
thanks for the offer Ryan - got your message after locking it - it was a one off - I ended up triple-locking it to some railings on Franklin overnight - all was fine when I collected it the next day.
I'm glad it worked out.
I would avoid the racks across from the French Market end of the train station on Clinton near Randolph.
This is from a few years back...but it gets hit. I was outside at lunch one day a year or two ago when a guy was busted stealing a bike. Go police! He and his pal were dressed in bike messenger shirts...and even had clip boards to complete the role.