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.
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.
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.
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.