June 11 2013

Bicycle Theft in Montréal, Canada

This is a very appropriate week for me to be writing a blog post about bicycle theft in Montréal. Last week, someone took my bell and my lights right off of my bike in the middle of downtown. I am an avid cyclist; I bike to work, to run errands, and to go out to restaurants and bars. That evening, I had biked downtown for my dance practice and, although hesitant, parked my bicycle near the dance studio, in a well-lit public space, to a bicycle rack, with two locks. I thought it was secure, but little did I know someone with a screwdriver would come along and remove my bicycle accessories.

Bicycle attached to the highway entrance ramp

I use this personal anecdote because bicycle theft is an important deterrent to bicycle commuting. In fact, in a survey done by McGill University in 2012, many survey respondents described bicycle theft in Montréal as an epidemic and as a major deterrent to bicycling for transportation. When people are afraid that their bicycle will be stolen, they are hesitant to bike to their destinations. Many survey respondents underlined the need for more and better quality bicycle parking in the city. Bike share is a partial solution to this problem. The Bixi (“Bike taxi” system) offers users bikes that can be taken from and returned to stations, thus eliminating the possibility of bicycle theft.

Bixi in Montréal

The following are some of the interesting findings from the survey:

  • U-locks decrease bicycle theft more than other locks in the survey;
  • Females are less likely to have their bicycle stolen;
  • Half of stolen bicycles were stolen from locations where bicycles are not meant to be parked (e.g. street furniture);
  • Stolen bicycles were valued at $100-500;
  • Bicycles are mostly stolen at night (37%) and in the summer months; and
  • Stolen bicycles are rarely recovered. But reporting the theft, registering a bicycle, and having a photograph of the bicycle seemed to have a positive effect on recovery.

Is bicycle theft a problem in your city? What can urban planners and engineers do to improve the situation?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Devon Paige Willis

Devon Paige Willis is a native Montrealer and recent graduate of McGill University where she did her B.A. in Environment and Political Science. She discovered a passion for urban and transportation planning in her final year, during which time she attended UC Berkeley’s [IN]City introductory urban planning program and completed her honours thesis about cycling in Montreal, specifically measuring bikeability and understanding what affects cyclist satisfaction. She will pursue a Master of Urban Studies called 4Cities starting in September 2013. The Masters takes place in Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen and Madrid and focus on European Urban Planning. She will be focusing on sustainable transportation and is especially interested in urban planning and transportation in suburban environments. She has her own urban planning blog at iliveinthesuburbs.wordpress.com.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 at 9:31 am and is filed under Environment, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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