Opinion — Bike theft boom of 2020: Time for action?

Bicycles locked up near Queen’s University in the fall of 2020. Photo by Logan Cadue.

The following is a submitted Op/Ed piece. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of The Kingstonist.

The COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged many people to turn to bicycles to remain active, explore their community, transport themselves around town, and do all of these things in a safe, physically distant way. As an avid cyclist and an employee at a local bicycle shop, I have seen firsthand the dramatic increase in demand and need for bicycles in the city. And, unfortunately, I have also seen and heard the relentless efforts from our local bike thieves to rob citizens of their mode of transportation and recreation. This year, more than ever, I have heard dozens of customers from all over Kingston speak of their garages or sheds being broken into and their bikes (or worse, their kid’s bike) getting stolen.

Bike theft continues to be a rampant issue in Kingston. Ask anyone who cycles in your personal circle, and you’re likely to hear the same story. Many victims of theft don’t report their bike stolen because they don’t believe there’s a chance the police will be able to get their bike back. I often hear customers from Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax, and other Canadian cities, comment on how bike theft is bad in their cities, but it’s worse in Kingston. Is this really how we want to be recognized as a city? How are we supposed to even come close to becoming “Canada’s most sustainable city” if bike theft, a major deterrent to cycling, is not prioritized by our authorities?

I write this as a call-to-action to our City Officials, Kingston Police Department, cycling organizations, health and sustainability organizations, everyday cyclists, and any other interested party. We need to come together as a community and organize to tackle this issue in a multifaceted way. Providing secure bike parking all over the city, encouraging those who have had their bikes stolen to report them to the police, creating a robust network of citizens who look out for stolen bikes, designating at least one police officer to focus only on bike-related issues — These are just a few examples of what can be done to deter bike theft in our city. Are we going to take action or let 2021 be another successful year for bike thieves?

If anyone is interested, please contact me at [email protected].

Carla Teixeira is an avid cyclist and cycling proponent in Kingston. She has volunteered with a number of local cycling initiatives, and works at the downtown cycling shop, Frontenac Cycle Sport, which has been a strong advocate against bike theft in Kingston for many years, and launched their own online bike theft survey and database in 2018.

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