6. Bicycle Security: Tips on theft prevention, bike registration, and more

This guide, provided as a public service, was first published in 2009, with many subsequent updates. For additional updates, or if you have questions, please contact us. To return to the portal page of the Tips for Bicycling Monterey County 20-section guide, click here.

Below are a variety of tips to help prevent bicycle theft.

If you’re renting a bike, a lock is usually included. If you have your own bike but no lock, consider purchasing a lock at one of the many Monterey County bike shops.  

Tips on locking your bike

Some Monterey County residents have reported their bikes being stolen from their home garages. Check out these tips from Bicycling Monterey’s fellow California Bicycle Coalition local partner San Francisco Bicycle Coalition on “How to lock your bike up at home”: https://sfbike.org/news/how-to-lock-your-bike-up-at-home/

Wherever your bike is, keep it secure. Here are Jim Langley’s tips on locking your bike, and—just in case—tips on getting a stolen bike back.  (Thank you to Velo Club Monterey for bringing Jim’s tips to our attention.)

Josh Ross (https://twitter.com/josh_ross) researched bike locks and wrote about his findings for Cycling News, February 2022, https://www.cyclingnews.com/features/best-bike-locks/#main 

Among favorite bike security resources shared by City of Monterey Police Department are:

Below:  The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) is another location where an electronic eye is kept on bike parking areas.

Serial number and registration/license – recovering a stolen bike

Whether you register your bike or not (more about that below), do write down your bike’s serial number so you are better prepared to retrieve it from the police if your bike is stolen and recovered. (Example from a Monterey County Herald 3/4/17 story, http://www.montereyherald.com/article/NF/20170304/NEWS/170309916: “The connection was made, police said, because the owner of the stolen bicycle had made note of the serial number and provided it to police at the time of his report.”)

And if your bike is stolen, when you return to the spot where you’d left it, be sure to note the address for the police report, and also look around to see if there’s a video camera recording the area. (Not only have some places—such as City of Monterey Sports Center and Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey / MIIS had videos on the bike racks, as pictured on this web page—sometimes another nearby property owner will have a video camera recording that may also be helpful in identifying the thief.)

Registering your bicycle

Having your bicycle registered can be very helpful in the event of theft. Registering your bicycle is typically free or very low-cost.

National registration options:
  1. National Bike Registry joined forces with Project 529; see FAQS: http://www.nationalbikeregistry.com/faq.html. As of 3/18/19, National Bike Registry website indicates that registration is free for the lifetime of the bicycle, and encourages you to register at http://www.project529.com.
  2. Bike Index is a free, open-source bicycle registration database for people in the U.S., and other countries too. See their tips on what to do if your bike is stolen: https://bikeindex.org/stolen. On social media, try typing “bike index” in the platform’s search window to find Bike Index accounts for various locations, e.g., an account listing stolen bikes in and around Santa Cruz.
Within California:

Cyclelicious shared “How stolen bike recovery works in California,” and encouraged people to take advantage of bike registration if their city or county offers it.

Requiring bike registration is not a bike-friendly policy! [And in fact, note this update: California Assembly Bill 1909 (Friedman-Haney-Portantino), signed by the Governor on September 16, 2022, amends CA Vehicle Code Section 39002 so that a city or county that adopts a bicycle licensing ordinance or resolution shall not prohibit the operation of an unlicensed bicycle. See details, as well as when this and other bike-related provisions of AB 1909 become effective: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220AB1909 ]

However, when a city or county offers optional registration, you may want to take advantage of that, in case of theft. In Monterey County, bicycle registration options include City of Pacific Grove Police Department. As of 3/18/21, PGPD registers bikes for free. PGPD also advises that if your bicycle was lost or stolen in the last 6 months, phone them at (831) 648-3143 and provide a detailed description; they’ll check to see if they have it. Found bikes are held by PGPD for 90 days; after that time, unclaimed recovered bikes are donated or destroyed. 

Engraving identifying info

Don’t want to engrave, in case you decide to sell the bike later?  Another idea is to put your business card or a small index card with your name and contact information, written in permanent ink, inside the handlebar or bike seat tube. 

Engraving: Some cities do not have bicycle registration/licensing.  However, police departments and many bike advocates encourage you to engrave your name or driver’s license number and state abbreviation in an obvious spot on your bicycle’s frame. 

Don’t have an engraver?  Police departments, and even public libraries, often have one they will let you use.  Swing on by the City of Monterey Police Department to borrow their engraver, or contact PDs or libraries nearer you to inquire about availability.

If you spot a stolen bike on craigslist.org, eBay.com, a flea market, on the street, or elsewhere, it is not recommended to attempt to recover it yourself.  Contact your local police department and provide them the information. 

As reported by the Santa Cruz Sentinel on Jan 4, 2013, our Santa Cruz neighbors have created a related database with the goal of helping to recover stolen bikes. http://www.santacruzbikebase.com/ And further north, San Franscisco PD has an anti-bike theft Twitter account, @SFPDBikeTheft.


See John Metcalfe’s CityLab article, “How to Stop Crooks From Stealing Your Bicycle Seat.” Think that only happens in big cities? Sure, it does happen there; a Monterey County resident told me about his bicycle being double-locked in San Francisco when his seat and post were stolen. But I’ve heard such reports of bike-seat thefts in our county too. Check out Metcalfe’s article.

Another idea—only partly tongue-in-cheek: an old saddle like this one on our 20-yr-old Giant hybrid is less likely to be stolen!


Removing lights, pumps, or other detachable accessories means a desire to stop for shopping, a meal out, etc. will include factoring in some time to deal with the security of those items. Unless I anticipate hauling enough goods that I’ll want to hook up my bike trailer, I usually wear a little daypack when doing shopping or other errands by bike. At any stop, I can remove accessories and toss them in my pack to take with me.

Of course, there are times when you’d find it much easier to just keep an eye on your bike! At the end of this section, there’s a list of some of the HER Helmet Thursday spots where it’s easy to do exactly that.

Bicycle lockers and other storage

Bicycle lockers

For a list of some prime bicycle locker locations around Monterey County, see the “Bike Valet and Other Bicycle Parking” section of Tips for Bicycling Monterey County.

Overnight guests

If you’re an overnight guest in Monterey County, most lodging businesses have storage rooms designated for bikes, and some—e.g., the Monterey Hostel, a member of Hosteling International—have bike lockers for their guests. 

Bicycle valet and other bicycle parking

One solution to bike security needs is to go to a place that offers bike valet parking, where valets will take responsibility for keeping your bicycle secure.

Refer to the “Bike Valet Parking and Other Bicycle Parking” section for some of these locations, along with other bike parking tips.

This valet at the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa stands ready to care for Laurel Thomsen’s bike.

Purchasing a used bike?

That’s cool. “Reduce, reuse, recycle, bicycle, love your planet.” However, among the reasons to consider purchasing used bicycles from local bike shops is the reputation of the seller. If you prefer to instead purchase from an individual, see tips from BikeIndex.org: http://files.bikeindex.org/stored/dont_buy_stolen.pdf.

* * *

Bike security:

A unique list of places to go

Like to keep an eye on your bike, perhaps because you’re touring with a load of gear on it? Below is list of places in Monterey County where you’ll find that easier. The notes here aren’t meant to imply that there may not be other options at these spots. When outdoor tables and such are mentioned, that doesn’t necessarily mean the place won’t have other secure bike parking options in inclement weather.  Contact them to ask.

Note: The list below has not been updated. Check with any business listed here to be sure they are still open and that their location and seating options haven’t changed.

  1. Abalonetti, Monterey (wind-protected outdoor waterfront deck/patio where you can park your bike)
  2. Bakery Station, Salinas (all  seating is alongside picture windows, making it easy to keep an eye on your bike parked out front)
  3. Big Sur River Inn Restaurant, Big Sur (outdoor deck seating)Big Sur River Inn restaurant patrons29 May 2011 Big Sur 006
  4. Carmel Belle, Carmel  (outdoor tables) 6 June 2011 Jay Dolata of Carmel Belle 040
  5. Cha-Ya Japanese Tea & Things, Monterey (patio out front, with tables)IMG_9710
  6. China House (formerly China Garden), Pacific Grove (front deck with tables; also, large picture windows) China House PG
  7. De Tierra Vineyards Tasting Room, Carmel (patio)
  8. El Zacatecano Restaurant, Salinas (bike rack directly out front; request table near a front picture window)
  9. Erik’s Delicafe, Seaside (picture window, outdoor table) HHT spot Eriks Delicafe cyclist (7)
  10. First Awakenings, Pacific Grove (lock bike on railing and request nearby table)
  11. Golden Fish, Salinas  (front patio and picture windows, plus bike rack within view)Security - Golden Fish parking
  12. G’s Tacos, Pajaro (outdoor table)G's Tacos Pajaro
  13. Guadalajara Grill, South Salinas – Picture windows (an entirely glass front dining room) make it easy to keep an eye on your bike. You can park it on the sidewalk (in such a way that it doesn’t block pedestrian use), and even sit directly opposite your bike, with only the glass between you, so your bike is in full view while dining.Guadalajara Grill South Salinas
  14. Halē Kai Lana Kona Coffee, Sand City – Pedal right up! This open-air java spot makes it so easy to watch your bike while you relax on a sofa or bar stool to sip coffee, and to shop their gift counter for purchases too.Hale Kai Lana Coffee Sand City
  15. Hanabi Japanese, Castroville (ask for window table at front, then use nearby bike rack in viewing distance)Castroville Station bike racks 5 Feb 2012 018Castroville - Hanabi - 5 Feb 2012 021
  16. Happy Girl Kitchen, Pacific Grove (parklet out front–cool upgrade from the original outdoor tables pictured below–as well as bike rack within view of picture windows)IMG_9800Happy Girl - BikeToHGK
  17. Haute Enchilada Café & Gallery, Moss Landing  (patio)Haute Enchilada patio - July 2015
  18. Intercontinental the Clement Monterey (bike valet parking)Laurel at Clement valet sign primps
  19. International Market and Deli, Lighthouse Ave, New Monterey (bike rack viewable from their outdoor tables)IMG_0469
  20. Island Taco, Carmel  (outdoor tables)
  21. La Sala’s Bi-Rite Deli, Monterey (outdoor tables, or table by window)La Sala Bi-Rite daughter of owner (1)
  22. La Plaza Bakery & Café, 20 N. Sanborn Rd, Salinas  (picture window)
  23. La Plaza Bakery & Café, Greenfield (picture window with nearby bike rack)La Plaza Bakery in Greenfield and countywide are in HER Helmet Thursdays
  24. Layers, Monterey (outdoor tables option, plus large picture window for those eating indoors)
  25. London Bridge Pub, Monterey (patio seating, or indoor seating in view of bike rack)London Bridge pub - 042Bike rack by yacht club
  26. LouLou’s Griddle in the Middle, Wharf II, Monterey (outdoor tables)
  27. Lucia Restaurant and Bar at Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley (bike valet parking available)
  28. Mariscos Puerto Nuevo, Seaside  (bicycle racks, and benches, right out front, opposite picture window — added in 2018, after this photo was taken)IMG_5088
  29. Mariscos Nayarita, Castroville (picture window)Mariscos Nayarita Castroville
  30. Mi Tierra, Salinas  (picture window with bike rack nearby)IMG_5312
  31. Montellese Family Chiropractic, Monterey (these health care providers say you are welcome to pop your bike on the elevator and bring it right on into the office)
  32. MYO Pure Frozen Yogurt, Monterey (picture window with bike rack out front, plus outdoor tables and parklet)MYO Monterey bike parking
  33. MYO Pure Frozen Yogurt, Salinas (picture window)MYO Salinas - Bike rack needs
  34. MYO Pure Frozen Yogurt, Seaside (picture window)IMG_5084
  35. The Oven Pizzeria, in West Broadway Urban Village, Seaside (outdoor tables, and picture windows; bike racks and benches out front too)
  36. Paluca Trattoria, Monterey (outdoor tables, and picture windows; walk your bike down Wharf I, then Paluca Trattoria welcomes you to lock it to their railing)
  37. Parker-Lusseau Pastries, 731 Munras, Monterey (picture window, and outdoor tables on patio)
  38. Parker-Lusseau Pastries, 539 Hartnell, Monterey (outdoor tables, on porch and–out of view in this photo–also on left)
    Rich M in front of Parker Lusseau, HHT spot (3)
  39. Parker-Lusseau Pastries, 40 Ragsdale, Monterey (outdoor tables on patio)
  40. Peter B’s Brewpub, Monterey (bike rack directly alongside outdoor dining area!)Thru 5-15-12 183
  41. Petra, Monterey (the open-air seating option in pleasant weather allows easily stepping out to peek at your bicycle locked up on a nearby Alvarado Street bike rack)
  42. Petra, Pacific Grove (outdoor deck)
  43. Plume’s Coffee House, Monterey (sit at tables out front, or at window seats)
  44. Point Pinos Grill, Pacific Grove (outdoor patio)
  45. PortaBella, Carmel (outdoor tables)
  46. Portola Hotel (bike valet parking)Nick - cheery valet and savvy cyclist
  47. r.g. Burgers, Carmel (outdoor tables)
  48. Rosine’s, Monterey (outdoor tables)

  49. Sandbar & Grill, Wharf II, Monterey (bike rack nearby–although up the stairs)Sandbar & Grill 038
  50. Schooners Coastal Kitchen and Bar at the Monterey Plaza Hotel, Monterey (bike valet parking available)Bike valet and Laurel Thomsen - Mtry Plaza - Mari
  51. Sweet Elena’s, Sand City (picture windows, outdoor tables)DSC01821
  52. Tacos El Jalisciense on the corner of East Alisal and Madeira, Salinas (large picture windows, and bike rack out front in easy-to-observe location)Taco El Jali Alisal at Madeira
  53. Taqueria del Mar, Lighthouse Ave, New Monterey (bike rack directly out front, viewable from their picture window and its dining bar)IMG_0471
  54. Taqueria El Kiosko, Williams Rd, Salinas (picnic tables out front)
  55. Taqueria Zarape, Seaside (picture window)
  56. Tidal Coffee, Monterey (bike rack by front door; bike valet parking also available at hotel)Laurel at La Strada table
  57. Toasties Café, Pacific Grove (outdoor patio)
  58. Vista Blue Spa at the Monterey Plaza Hotel, Monterey (bike valet parking at the hotel)
  59. Wild Plum Cafe & Bakery, Monterey (outdoor tables)
  60. Yangtse’s Taste of Thai, Salinas (ask for window table; bike rack nearby)Fixie girls in Oldtown Salinas March 2014 - at Yangtse's - also burrito riders