Bike theft happens to approximately 1.5 million Americans every year. Most bike locks can be cut through in less than a minute, meaning that if your bike is left in a vulnerable spot you might be left without a bike very soon.
The best way to protect your bike might very well be the SkunkLock, a recent invention designed by Daniel Idzkowksi and Yves Perrenoud. The SkunkLock is a carbon and steel U-shaped lock, equipped with a hollow chamber, which holds the violent secret that makes the SkunkLock so special — a pressurized gas that, when released, causes difficulty in breathing and vomiting. If a thief cuts 30 percent of their way into the lock, the gas emerges, sending them to vomit city.
It’s a new sort of bike lock that its inventors hope will be funded soon via Indigogo. The lock has yet to be tested on a real thief, but it has been tested on Idzkowski, Perrenoud, and volunteers at the distances of two, five, 10, and 20 feet. At 10 feet, the smell of the gas was unpleasant — at two feet, it caused 99 percent of trial testers to vomit.
The inventors say that this chemical is legal, and has passed compliance tests in all 50 states and some European Union countries. While they have not said what it’s made of, it’s likely that it involves the vomiting agent adamsite. According to the CDC, adamsite is a vomiting compound that can be released into the air as fine particles — like the aerosol gas in the SkunkLock. It has previously been used as riot-control agent; most adverse health effects cease after 30 minutes.
Idzkowksi tells The Guardian that his team was inspired to create the SkunkLock after an experience shared by many Americans.
“Basically we were fed up with thefts. The real last straw was we had a friend park his very expensive, electric bike outside a Whole Foods, and then we went to have lunch and chat. We went out and his bike was gone.”
Okay, maybe it was more of a situation straight out of Silicon Valley. But anyone trying to stop bike theft is a friend of ours. There’s still one thing that could lead to a stolen bike, even if it has a SkunkLock: picking the lock with a cheap plastic pen.