Local shop tackles bike theft

Survey reveals more than half of Kingston cyclists struggle with bicycle theft 

A bike locked on campus.

After a pair of local bike shop employees noticed more  bikes with missing wheels locked up on racks around Kingston than full bicycles, they set out to do something about it.

From August to November, Carla Teixeira and Graeme Healey of Frontenac Cycle ran a survey asking cyclists about their experiences with bicycle theft.  

Of the 254 people who participated in the survey, nearly half reported having at least one bike stolen. Only 15 per cent reported no bikes stolen. The remaining 25 per cent reported more than one bike stolen. 

The survey also revealed a collective monetary loss of $150,000 in stolen bikes or parts. 

The pair compiled their data into a report and sent it to the City and Kingston Police.

According to Healey, they wrote the report because anecdotal evidence wasn’t enough.

“Until you have an actual hard set of data to bring somebody, they don’t really take you as seriously,” Healey said in a phone interview with The Journal.

Though the pair can present hard data to the City, Healey said Kingston’s issue with bicycle theft is a “broken window” type of problem, referencing the view that visible crime encourages further illegal acts.

“If you clean up the smaller problems in your society, bigger problems will also go away,” he said.

Healey said some of those smaller problems include limited bicycle parking locations and police patrol, as well as a lack of reporting thefts.

“With the helpless nature of bike theft, and the prospect of never getting it back being all too real, people just give up,” he said. 

Teixeira added many of her customers would complain about stolen bikes and parts when they came into the shop, but few reported to the police.

“The police need numbers,” she told The Journal in a phone interview. “You can tell people there’s 1000 bikes stolen every month, but if the police only get 10 calls, then they only think 10 bikes have been stolen.” 

Teixeira discussed how enhanced bicycle security could improve Kingston for its citizens. 

“There’s a lot of health benefits that come along with physical activity and being out in the open with the fresh air,” she said. “People will know when they come out of a restaurant or the movie theatre their bike will still be there.” 

“They won’t have that worry in their heads at all time,” she added. “People shouldn’t have to live with that constant fear.”

Teixeira also said because students are especially vulnerable to bicycle theft, there should be more bicycle parking locations in the University District.

On Nov. 15, Kingston Police issued a press release in response to the report. 

“Our officers often stop suspicious persons in possession of bicycles or bicycle parts, but if no report has been made the officer may not be able to act,” the press release stated.

The statement stressed mutual support and awareness is the key to decreasing bike theft in Kingston.

“As with any criminal activity, the best solution is a community approach,” the statement said. 

Bicycle owners can register their bikes with the Kingston Police Bike Watch Program.

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