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Enthusiasts have dark tales of thieves stalking cyclists, scaling balconies for bikes

VANCOUVER — Barry Gilpin, a fan of high-end bicycles for European cycling trips, could ride any bike he wanted. In the Lower Mainland, he chooses to ride a $100 junker because he’s certain his bike will be stolen.

“Vancouver is a very, very bad city for bike theft,” said Mr. Gilpin, owner of Cheapskates stores, which sells 4,000 second-hand bikes on consignment annually. “It’s a big black mark on our city.”

Most information about bike theft is anecdotal, but the Vancouver Police Department alone records $1-million worth of stolen bikes annually. The department says that’s a fraction of the real value because most owners lack serial numbers or identification and don’t report thefts. No one knows how many parts — such as handlebars, seats or wheels — are pinched from bikes locked outside.

“It sounds like such a silly thing, bike theft,” cyclist Bonnie Fenton said. “People don’t think of it as being as serious as car theft. But it’s part of the social question of where we are in our society — and the fact is, it’s an environmental issue.

“We’re trying to encourage people to ride bikes, and cities are creating bike lanes, but there are barriers, and [bike theft] is one of them,” said Ms. Fenton, the departing chairwoman of a Vancouver advisory committee on cycling.

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I was lucky enough to have a job where I kept my bike in my office. Sucks for the folks that have to leave them unattended at a bike rack.