Bicycle Lock Uses Unpleasant Gas against Thieves

December 28, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. deter / dɪˈtɜr / (v.) – to prevent or stop someone from doing something
Example: The bad weather deterred him from taking a trip.

2. emit / ɪˈmɪt / (v.) – to give out
Example: Cell phones emit radiation.

3. penetrate / ˈpɛn ɪˌtreɪt / (v.) – to pass through something, especially something closed
Example: Light penetrated through the windows.

4. fiddle / ˈfɪd l / (v.) – to touch or operate something
Example: The boy started fiddling with the puzzle when he got bored.

5. notification / ˌnoʊ tə fɪˈkeɪ ʃən / (n.) – a message or announcement that alerts a person about something
Example: We received a notification this morning that classes will be suspended.


Read the text below.
A new kind of bike lock that uses unpleasant gas to deter thieves has been unveiled.

Two friends from California have recently introduced the Skunklock, a U-shaped bicycle lock that emits a foul-smelling gas when a bike thief tries to saw it off.

The gas inside the lock can cause vomiting, shortness of breathing, and even impaired eyesight to any person exposed to it. It can also penetrate high-end gas masks, while its odor can remain on clothes or any protective gear for a long time. Nevertheless, the inventors claimed that the gas is not poisonous.

Currently, the inventors are raising money for the production of Skunklocks through the crowdfunding website Indiegogo. The lock will be sold for $99, and will be available for shipping in 2017.

The inventors came up with the Skunklock because bike thefts are common in San Francisco. In 2014, there were 4,085 reported bicycle thefts in the area. The duo also plans to offer the Skunklock to other countries with high rates of bike theft, which include the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Japan, Germany, France, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Belgium.

Because of the high frequency of bike theft all over the world, many other lock innovations have been introduced in the market in recent years. Two years ago, Velo Labs, a technology startup also based in San Francisco, introduced the Skylock, a solar-powered “smart” bike lock that connects to the owner’s phone via Bluetooth.

Skylock alerts the owner if someone fiddles with the lock by sending a notification to the owner’s phone. The lock, which is sold at $199 each, received favorable reviews from biking enthusiasts because of its security features.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think Skunklock will sell in your country? Why or why not?
·         If you were given the chance to improve Skunklock, how would you improve it?

Discussion B

·         If you were to invent a new bicycle lock, what would it look like?
·         Do you believe that people should take extreme measures just to secure their belongings? Why or why not?

December 28, 2016