How to use IFTTT to recover a stolen bicycle and for other more pleasurable pursuits

 

IF This Then That, or IFTTT, is an online warehouse of a variety of web tools.  They have a treasure trove of “recipes” as they call them, that perform various activities for you.  With each recipe, you first set a trigger: “If this happens…”.  Then you tell it what you want to happen once the trigger is activated: “then do this.”

For our purposes, there is only one “recipe” we need: “Stole Bike Finder”. 

If you’re remotely computer savvy, then after your bike was stolen, you went to craigslist and searched for it.  But since you are reading this post, you didn’t find it.  With the Stolen Bicycle Finder recipe, you can have IFTTT perform that same search indefinitely and email you if your search ever has any results.  Sounds awesome, yes?  Here’s how you do it.

1)      Sign up for IFTTT at IFTTT.com.

2)      Search for the recipe: “Stolen Bicycle”

a.      You’ll see that the recipe has two parts. The first part is the craigslist search. The second is the email you part.

3)      Search craigslist for your bike using a simple term. Go to craigslist and do a search for with the most general search term you can that would result in a hit for your bike.

a.      Make your search simple but not too simple. If you simply searched for all bikes for sale, then IFTTT would email you every time a new bike was for sale on craigslist.  However, if you search too specifically, by adding the year for example, you may never get a hit as the thief likely won’t know or care what year your bike is when posting.

4)      After you do the search, copy the URL.

5)      Paste the URL into the first part of the IFTTT recipe and click ADD.

6)      Insert your email address into the second part of the IFTTT recipe. This is the email address you want to be emailed should someone post a bike matching your search description on craigslist.

7)      Repeat as needed. You can set up several IFTTT searches by using different descriptors in your geographic area or use the same descriptors and search nearby geographic areas.  For example, if my commuter bike was stolen, I’d likely search for “Viscount” in “Seattle.”  I’d also search in Portland and Bellingham as they are the two nearest geographic zones.  You get the idea.

 

Hopefully, you’re reading this post because you were curious about the “other more pleasurable pursuits” part of the title.  If you are, then imagine how else you could use IFTTT!

I’ve used it, for example, to search for the hard to find Islabike brand kids bike that my kids love but have grown out of.  There are not a lot on the market and I want to be notified right away if any are listed on craigslist so I can pick up the next size up!  I also have an ongoing etsy search for vintage bicycle parts.  Then there's the recipe that searches craigslist for a good deal on a bike trainer.  My plan is to get a good deal on a trainer for work so that I can do some indoor bike training while working at my “standing” desk!  I can dream, can’t I?

How have you used IFTTT?  Any other recipes that you’d recommend?   For more information on what to do if your bike is stolen, check out my other blog post here.

What to do BEFORE you get in a bicycle crash

Doing these things BEFORE you are involved in a crash will help ensure that your post-crash experience goes as smoothly as possible:

1.       PROPER IDENTIFICATION: Make sure you have proper identification with you so that if you are unconscious or unable to communicate clearly, emergency providers can figure out who you are and whom to contact. There are several ways to do this:

a.       Invest in an identification bracelet. My family uses RoadId (www.roadid.com) (*No, I do not receive any compensation from RoadId for referring customers!) RoadId provides engraved steel badges that contain your name and emergency contact information. These badges go on simple silicone wristbands, FitBits, and other tethers.

b.       You can purchase stickers online that list emergency contact information. These stickers may be placed on your helmet, on the back of your phone, in your wallet, etc.

c.       You can add your emergency contact information to your cell phone. Depending on the phone there are different ways to do this. For some examples, check out this article at PCMAG or this one at WIKIHOW.

2.       SUFFICIENT INSURANCE: Make sure that you have insurance that will cover you in case of a bicycle crash. This can sometimes be difficult to determine on your own. I am happy to discuss insurance with you (at no charge) to help you determine whether you are covered. To visualize the insurances below, imagine a complicated Venn diagram of what each of these do and do not cover:

a.       Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage. If you own a car and it is insured, you have the option of adding UIM coverage. Should a motorist who does not have insurance or who only carries a minimum level of insurance crash into you with their car, UIM insurance provides you with coverage for a specified amount in excess of the driver’s policy. So, for example, if you had to spend two days at Harborview and the medical bills are in excess of the driver’s $25,000.00 insurance coverage (the minimum in Washington State), your UIM coverage would be responsible for paying anything that was not paid by the driver, up to your policy maximum.

b.       Personal Injury Protection. Personal Injury Protection or PIP Insurance, provides reimbursement for medical expenses and some wage loss while you are recovering from a crash. If you are hit by a car while you are riding your bicycle, the driver’s PIP policy should provide coverage first. If you also carry PIP coverage, then your policy would start after the driver’s policy was exhausted. In Washington State drivers are encouraged to carry $10,000.00 in PIP coverage but they may decline it.

c.       What if I don’t own a car? This gets to be a bit trickier but it is not insurmountable. Some people opt to have their names added to the policies of friends or roommates who own a car. Others opt for what is called Broad Form Coverage or Non-Owner Car Insurance. Through this type of policy, you should be able to obtain UIM insurance that will cover you should you be hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver. Many of these policies also offer PIP coverage. As with any policy, it is important that you read the policy language to be sure that you are covered. Not sure what it means? Make an appointment with me, bring it by, and we can go through it together. We can laugh at the legalese together.

d.       Liability Insurance. This insurance covers you should you injure someone else or damage someone else’s property. If you are riding your bicycle, the most common insurance that would potentially provide this coverage is your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. The only way to determine if you are covered is to look at your policy. For an example of how I discovered that I was NOT covered because I added an electric assist to my Xtracycle Edgerunner, see my blog post at BLOGLINK.

e.       Health Insurance. Health insurance is critical in helping you with medical bills following a crash. If there is no PIP insurance or if PIP insurance runs out, you will be required to pay for your medical treatment right away; however, because you still may be recovering from your injuries it may be too early to make a claim with the driver’s insurer. Health Insurance will help reduce your medical bills during this period. Health Insurers have negotiated rates with certain medical providers. This means that (typically) your rates will be lower if health insurance is billed than if you are billed directly (and you will pay less out-of-pocket). Some providers will agree to treat you on credit (called treating on a lien) so that you do not need to pay them back until after your claim is resolved with the driver who hit you. (https://www.wahealthplanfinder.org/)

f.        Cycling Insurance. There are some independent insurance companies (such as Velo Insurance and Markel) that offer policies geared towards those of us who don’t own a car but do ride a bicycle. I do not have direct experience with what these policies may or may not cover. If you have one of these policies, I’d be happy to read through the policy and discuss it with you. Some examples are: www.markelbicycleinsurance.com/; velosurance.com/

g.       How much insurance should I buy? As much as you can reasonably afford. Typically, once you get insurance, increasing your limits does not cost as much as you might think. The cost of medical treatment has been skyrocketing for years. Should your injuries require surgery or a stay at Harborview, minimal coverage amounts would typically no longer be sufficient to reimburse you for these escalating costs. 

DO IT TODAY: PICK ONE FORM OF IDENTIFICATION TO CARRY WITH YOU AND CHECK YOUR RECORDS TO BE SURE YOU HAVE SUFFICIENT COVERAGE!

The electric bike Insurance hole or... I love my motorized land conveyance.

About a year ago, I was reading through a post on one of my favorite Facebook groups, Seattle Family Bike.  The poster said that she’d recently talked to her insurer who informed her that her electric bicycle wasn’t covered under her insurance policy (either her auto policy or her homeowners policy).  Initially, I was surprised by this because of the nature of the work I do.  I had never once been asked by an insurer if a bicycle was electric or not nor did I see how that mattered under the insurance policy.

I called my own insurer anyway.  The first representative told me that, of course I was covered.  I explained more to the representative what I’d heard and they agreed to check with one of the underwriters.  A day or so later, I got the call: “Nope, you’re not covered.”  Once you attach a motor to your bicycle many insurers consider it a “motorized land conveyance” under your policy.  A what?  

Given that this is a vehicle I take my kids to school on and explore with, I wanted to be sure that I was covered.  So, I informed my insurer that I’d like expand my insurance to cover my "motorized land conveyance."  My rep kindly informed me that they didn’t offer insurance for it, but did direct me to an insurance broker who could help me out. 

I called Nick Pembroke at McClain Insurance. They sell policies for a variety of insurance companies.  They were extremely helpful and set up a policy that would cover my family on the electric bike.  While most mainstream insurers still do not offer electric bike policies, they do provide coverage under their moped or motorcycle policies.  Also, there are a few new insurers in the market who are providing bicycle-specific coverages. 

While Seattle Bicycle Advocate, PLLC does not receive anything from McClain insurance for referring you, Nick did mention that if you tell them you were referred by me, they will give a small donation to a local charity!  Thanks Nick! 

What to do if your bike is stolen

There’s a saying that goes: There are those who have and those who will.  This applies to most everything but particularly to people who’ve had their bicycles stolen.  If you find yourself in such a situation, here's what to do: 

1.     Report the theft to your local police department and describe the bicycle in as much detail as you can. Include pictures of the bicycle as well as your serial number if you have it. If you don’t but you purchased your bike from a bicycle shop, then contact the shop as they may still have it on file!

2.     Report your bicycle on the stolen bicycle index at BikeIndex.org.

3.     If you live in Seattle, you can report your stolen bicycle to Seattle Bike Blog (www.seattlebikeblog.com), who partners with BikeIndex.org.

4.     Post a picture of your stolen bike with the serial number and your contact information on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). If you are a member of any bicycling groups on Facebook or other social media, share the picture with those pages. Let me know, I’d be happy to post it on any social media outlet I’m connected to!

5.     Scan Craigslist ads in your area and surrounding areas for your bike. One simple way to do this if you are technologically savvy is to set up a search using the website IFTTT.com.  With IFTTT.com, you can set up a search for the general details of your bike and it will send you an email if a posting arises in your area. For a more detailed discussion of how to do this, see my blog post: "How to use IFFTT..." (*IFTTT.com also works great for finding good deals on that new bike or bike part you are looking for without having to check Craigslist every day. 

6.     Call your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance to see how much of your bicycle is covered and what information they would like you to provide. Most insurers require a police report to have been filed within a short period of time after the loss.

DO IT NOW: USE YOUR PHONE TO TAKE A PICTURE OF YOUR BIKE (TAKE A FEW—FROM DIFFERENT ANGLES) AND YOUR BIKE’S SERIAL NUMBER!

What to do in a crash

1.     Make sure you are safe! Unless there are cars coming towards you or other forms of urgent danger, stay still. Check yourself from head to toe to make take inventory of any injuries you may have. If you hit your head, stay still if possible. If you are ok to move, get yourself to the sidewalk or a place that is out of the road.

2.     Call 911 or ask that someone call 911 to report the crash. This will trigger two things: an ambulance will come to check you to make sure you are ok and it will trigger a police officer to come to the scene and take a report. While it may seem like too much for a small injury, it’s important to have the police come and file a report even if you think you are ok. Don’t be embarrassed!! I have had many clients who thought their injuries were “too minor” to call 911 or thought they were uninjured only to discover broken bones later once the adrenaline wore off. In one case, no information was exchanged because the person thought they were “fine” (but were not). Having a police report is not required but it can be very helpful—especially for collecting important information from the driver. 

3.     Make sure to collect the driver’s information. This includes the driver’s name, phone number, license plate number, and insurance information. If you have a phone, take a picture of their license, their license plate, and their insurance cards. If you think that the person has given you a false phone number, try calling it while you are still there.

4.     Make sure to get contact information from anyone who witnessed the crash. Sometimes the police will not collect that information and it’s very important to have it. Even if the other party is admitting fault at the time, stories can and do change. Witnesses can provide critical information.

5.     Take as many pictures as you can of the scene and your injuries. Take pictures of the car, your bike, where it happened, and anything else you think might be important. Take pictures of your injuries and/or ask a friend to do this if needed!

6.     Keep any evidence you have from the crash. Even if your bike is beyond repair or your clothes are torn to shreds, keep them! They are proof of what happened and without them, it makes it harder to get you reimbursed for them.

7.     Finally, seek advice from a bicycle attorney. You don’t need to hire an attorney right away but it is very important that you at least call someone who has experience with this and can advise you of your rights and how to preserve them. Do not talk to an insurance representative until you first talk to an attorney. Many bicycle attorneys, including myself, offer free (no pressure) consultations. A majority of the calls I receive require only a little assistance on the phone (at no cost) without the need to hire an attorney. If I can help you help yourself, I do my best to do that. If you do need the assistance of an attorney, we will do what needs to be done so that you can focus on healing.