Students collaborate with Cycle Kingston to reduce bicycle theft on campus

Infographic placed around campus contains information about how to prevent theft

One student’s bike locked on campus.
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Between 40 and 100 bicycle thefts have been reported every year on campus since 2000. This year, a group of Health Studies students have set out to teach the Queen’s community how to protect themselves.

Emily Kellway, Joseph Lee, Samah Zahran and Pavla Zabojnikova, all ArtSci ’18, have been working with Cycle Kingston since September as part of HLTH 415 — Program Design and Evaluation. The group has been working to create an infographic about the different resources available for students to avoid losing their bicycle to theft on campus. 

“Our role was to promote the Queen’s Bicycle Registration System, number one,” Lee told The Journal. “Number two, to really promote the Queen’s Secure Bike Parking facility in Mac-Corry.” 

“From our initial assessment in mid-November at the Queen’s Health and Wellness fair, we realized that most students didn’t know how to lock up their bike properly, didn’t know how to locate the serial number on their bicycles and didn’t know about the existing resources [on campus] to prevent bicycle theft.” 

The team placed their infographic in heavy traffic areas on campus like the JDUC and the ARC. It includes a demonstration on how to properly lock a bicycle, information about the Queen’s Bicycle Registration System website, where to locate a serial number on a bicycle and steps to recover a stolen bicycle.  

The HLTH 415 project, which requires students to apply what they’ve learned in lectures to a community effort for healthy living, was originally designed by Carla Teixeira. Teixeira worked as a teaching assistant for the class in 2016-17 and received her Master’s degree from the Queen’s School of Kinesiology and Health Studies last year. 

Now a board member of Cycle Kingston, Teixeira told The Journal in an email that she “thought that a project like this would be a good fit for the course” and that it’s “important for people to know how to properly lock up their bike to reduce the chances of [it] getting stolen.” 

“Whether for recreational, fitness, and/or transportation purposes, cycling is good for a person’s physical and mental health,” she wrote, adding that, “getting a bike stolen can be a deterrent for people to choose cycling as a mode of transportation.”

Neal Scott, an associate professor in the Queen’s Geography Department, has been the president of Cycle Kingston for six years. In a phone interview with The Journal, he also talked about how a fear of bicycle theft discourages students from cycling to campus. 

“It’s one of the major reasons why you hear people say they don’t want to cycle to Queen’s, because they’re afraid of having their bike stolen or vandalized,” he said. Scott added that “bicycle theft is a huge problem,” and there are “hundreds of reported incidents of theft, or theft of parts, every year.” 

Even though the onus is on the owner of the bike, Scott, who helped create the free Queen’s Bicycle Registration system in 2015, believes the University can do more to prevent bicycle theft. These options include “providing adequate bicycle racks around campus for students to use [and] secure bicycle parking on campus, and raising awareness about how to prevent theft.” 

“It’s important from a safety perspective,” he continued. “The more we deter thieves by registering bikes, the more, hopefully, we can deter bike theft. Everybody can contribute.” 

Murray Skeggs, who has been working for Queen’s Security and Emergency Services for 18 years, believes bicycles are stolen because thieves view them as an easy target. 

“The property that is stolen is often left unattended,” he told The Journal via email. “Not using a lock to secure [a] bicycle” is an example of why bicycle theft is so common on campus.  

“Theft is a crime of opportunity,” Skeggs continued. “Our goal is to remove that opportunity by arming our community with knowledge and, hopefully, reducing the chances of being a victim of crime.”

Information about how to register your bicycle can be found on the Queen’s Bicycle Registration System website. 

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