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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

An Open Letter to my Bike Thief

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"Dear Bike Thief: You Suck!"To my dear friend Thief:

You know who you are; you stole the rear tire off my bicycle.

I don’t hate you,
I fear for your welfare.

You obviously have been hanging around the wrong crowd. What would possess you to steal from your fellow man? Daddy didn’t give attention? Mommy didn’t care? Deviancy is a learned attribute; I suppose that unlike you, I am blessed to have been raised surrounded by honourable individuals who love me.

I don’t hate you,
I pity you.

You feel you can have your way with the world; whatever pleases you, you shall have.  However, you don’t realise that one day your actions will come back and bite you in the crotch. And I am certain, on that day; the gods will be smiling down upon me. What goes around comes around.

I don’t hate you,
I envy you.

We live in a civilisation; hence, one must be civilised. Most of us are shamed into following Canadian mores, due to years of conditioning. Yet somehow, you have the power to buck these expectations put upon us. You truly live outside of society. I, myself, have tried to do the same: I’ve dyed my hair purple. I’ve drunk alcohol whilst underage. I’ve danced on a beach for 3 days straight in Goa. I’ve done some experimenting with members of the same sex. But through it all, I’ve fallen back into the social straightjacket that consists of today’s moral obligations. I wish I could be a vagabond like you, who sticks their middle finger in the eye of the community-at-large.

I don’t hate you,
I am confused by your motives.

Surely you have experienced my similar sentiments of despondency – loss, anger, and malaise – when you had your own bike wheel stolen. I assume you have been a victim of property crime; why else would you have stolen from me other than to replace what you, yourself, had lost? If it were merely to use it as a trophy, or to sell it on Craigslist™, then frankly, my friend, you are another kind of evil.

I don’t hate you,
I question your actions.

By stealing my bike tire, you have rendered my sole mode of transportation useless. How am I to get to work and earn a living? How am I to get to the supermarket and buy food to nourrish my body? How am I to get to school and better myself? How am I to get to The Arts Café in Mile End and grab a coffee with friends? On foot? Too far. The bus? Too infrequent. The métro? Too inconvenient.

I don’t hate you,
I thank you.

Even if I installed a new bicycle wheel myself, I am looking at costs of at least $100. And with the time it takes in labour, I don’t think this project would ever be accomplished.

Thief, I thank you because had I not been faced with this transportation dilemma, I would not have thought about going to, clicking on « Abonnez-vous », and filling out the registration form in order to receive a bixi key 2 days later.

I’m mobile again and I’m loving it.

Rot in hell.

Émile Thomas.
A newly rendered unicycle
Image credits:

MONTRÉAL – Émile Thomas
NYC (Bike Thief Letter) – Rod Begbie



  1. There’s obviously an epidemic of bike-stealing in this city, but there’s also an epidemic of holier-than-thou complaints about said thefts. Bike thieves are not part of some well-oiled, international cabal hell bent on depriving the world’s young people of their crappy ass bikes. They’re simply desperate people who need $20 bucks so badly they’ll risk getting caught performing one of the least efficient yet most accessible property crimes around. What do they need this $20 for? Probably drugs, but maybe booze, rent, or food. Whatever it is, stealing a bike is clearly an act of desperation. Getting your bike stolen sucks (I get mine stolen about once a year), but accept it as a regular cost of owning a bike and buy another one off Craigslist for $50. $50 per year for a bike- that’s even cheaper than Bixi.

  2. I find your perspective on the motives and emotions of the wheel pilferer to be intriguingly different to mine. I simply assumed that a methhead busted that wheel for drug money because it was the only thing not attached to the U-lock and even reading that letter to his or her face would probably get you a blank chemically-stunned stupor. I expect that your thief doesn’t live in a civilization, and his actions have been biting him in the crotch long before your wheel was lost.

    Maybe it’s the different experiences: I come from Vancouver, where such events are a dime a dozen.

    In any case, best wishes on your new Bixi freedom and I hope Kitty finds her bike too.

  3. Sigh. Sorry you got your bike stolen. It is all those emotions, but mostly, it really just sucks. Let’s hope Bixi makes things a little harder and less lucrative for bike thieves.

  4. Olivier, at $50 you are probably buying a stolen bike (which is a crime in itself).

    Why do you assume that only young people get their bicycles stolen?

  5. Christine, you’d think it would fix things except that occasionally now when I go to rent a Bixi I will find that not only is the station empty but that most of the bikes are stolen and only the smashed remains of the post locking mechanism remain. This has happened at most stations that I’ve used in the last week. Yesterday, I arrived at the Bernard/Clark station at the same time as the Bixi redistribution truck and they couldn’t park any bikes at the station because the posts were all destroyed. The same thing occurred at Rachel/Gascon and I’m sure many other stations as well.

    Just what is happening to all of the Bixis? Who is stealing them and what can they possibly hope to achieve?

  6. I feel your pain! My bike was stolen last year and there I was, a puddle of tears on Ste. Famille when I discovered my bike gone.

  7. Colin, I didn’t realize the Bixi situation was so bad. So far, I haven’t seen any completely trashed racks, just a slot or two. If it keeps up, these f*ckers will ruin the system for everyone.

  8. Ok, Maria, maybe $50 means the bike is “hot”. But you can definitely get a legit bike for $85, the annual price of Bixi. Of course, the bike is likely going to be a beater, but then again that’s why I referred to “young” people. “Older” people seem to invest in nicer bikes and nicer locks. Substitute “poor” for “young” and “less poor” for “older” if you like.

    I’ve actually switched over to Bixi for two weeks now, but let’s just say they have a lot of problems to fix before I completely get rid of the bike outside my front door.

  9. We’re losing the Bixi battle. Every day I go out, it looks worse. More busted racks. More vandalised bikes.

    I predict they’ll eliminate the front baskets before the season is over, just because they can’t keep up with the rate at which cretins are tearing them off. If so, it would be a real loss, because it makes the bikes so much more functional.

    The only thing that might help turn the tide is security cameras. But that would be incredibly expensive.

  10. This morning at Frontenac/Sherbrooke the system was telling me that there were 7/7 bikes available. I arrived at the station five minutes later and to my dismay:
    -4 bikes had broken or missing racks
    -1 bike had a missing release clip for the seat
    -1 bike had a seat covered in fresh wet graffiti
    -1 post was smashed and the bike was stolen

    To the credit of the Bixi team, I reported it by email at 7 am and by the time I got home around 8 tonight the bikes were all replaced. Not bad for a Sunday but I can’t shake the feeling that swapping out most bikes every day is a huge waste of resources.

  11. Vandalism has sadly became part of Montreal culture and most locals do not even care. Some even support vandalism as art and rebellion against tidiness or something idiotic like that.

    I read that most stolen bikes were tracked down, and that we are having by far less trouble than Paris, I don’t know if it’s true. I haven’t encountered as many problems here in Downtown. Little kids with too much money and access to spray cans and permanent markers are definitely a problem here though.

  12. Émile,

    I know this is beside the point, but $100 for a new wheel is insanely overpriced. Find some used parts and put it on… it couldn’t possibly cost you more than $50, and most likely, it would be much less.

    Isn’t there a DIY bike shop /w used parts in montreal?

  13. Crack is what motivates someone to steal a bike wheel. To sell to anyone who will give them 5 bux, when as you say it will cost 100 to replace. Or to sell for scrap metal. Its odd that you choose to put your u-lock around the front wheel when the rear will cost more to replace.

    PS. Your chain is crying out for oil!

  14. Theft is never justified, but we cyclists have to be a bit more vigilant about locking properly and making it more complicated for thieves ( Judging by the rust on that chain, it looks like the frame has been hanging on that post for a while…

    Instead of giving up on a perfectly good bike, you can head to a bike coop and get help setting up your new wheel for about $30 and two hours of your time. Then get ready to roll!

    $28 = one month of Bixi.

    Here’s a list of MTL bike coops

  15. I second the comment about fixing your bike at a bike co-op, the other poster gave the link which is great. You can go to Right to Move at Concordia or the Flat at McGill, there’s the Mile End co-op (on Van Horne now), and Santropol Roulant. These are just the ones I’ve actually been to. Your own bike wil be better, cheaper, and more convenient than Bixi.

    You should definitely replace that chain too.

    Good luck whichever route you choose!

  16. I know exactly how you feel. I had a bicycle stolen when I was 15. It was how I got around! The two of us shared thousands of miles together :-(

    I just had my front wheel stolen from a spot in the apartment complex. BASTARDS! That cost me $65, which I don’t have since I’m between jobs. I went to a friendly little shop on Jean d’Estre. Nice place, I recommend it.

    Surely there has to be a place I can buy my own wheel back for less money. Where could they all go?


  17. I am still weeping for my trusty green apollo(ozzie brand) bike!!!!it was stolen from home.the new
    one on insurance is just not it.

    I hate the world and the person that took it.
    may the person have an accident and crash into
    a car.hate hate hate hate hate hate. hate it.the person does not deserve to be a human being.its an it.
    with no steven king cachet.just an it of beyond the most
    negative number ever value.I want a voodoo doll and pin the person to extreme non functionality.

    oh bike stealer
    may yo meet the grim reaper
    you dont even deserve to be the topic of this rhyme
    I hope you fall into a pit of toxic grime

    but worse than that
    it caught you I shall
    put you in a room of hell
    in front of a stereo playing nickelback
    and forever on reapeat you shall
    experience the worst band of all
    yes worse than styx and permit me to dwell
    bicycle thives can rot in hell!!!!!!

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