The Yellow Slasher

Bikeshare sent us a press release about many of their bikes being vandelized lately. I suppose it’s one of those things that makes you wonder about what society is coming to, like people who voted for Margaret Thatcher did:

In the last month, 25 BikeShare bikes around downtown Toronto have been vandalized. Tires are being deliberately punctured, requiring hundreds of dollars in parts and labour.

The attacks are a serious blow to the viability of BikeShare, a not-for-profit community project of the Community Bicycle Network.

The vandalism began last winter at our Grassroots – Riverdale hub where six bikes were targeted. Since April 2006, the tires of bikes at hubs around the city have been punctured, including those at The Bike Joint, Jet Fuel and Mountain Equipment Co-op. The same instrument appears to be used in all cases.

Project Manager Maogosha Pyjor states, “This vandalism undermines a valued community service that is already struggling financially.”

“This threatens to shut down several key BikeShare hub locations because they are unable to bring the bikes in overnight. The vandalism is probably happening when the hubs are closed,” Pyjor adds.

BikeShare is requesting the assistance of the general public to be on the lookout, especially around hub locations. A list of hubs can be found at www.bikeshare.org.

Since 2001, BikeShare’s fleet of bright yellow bicycles has been a welcome addition to the streets of downtown Toronto. BikeShare provides people with a healthy, affordable, convenient and efficient way to travel.

BikeShare, a project of the Community Bicycle Network, is Canada’s largest and most comprehensive bicycle sharing project. It recently won a Green Toronto award from the City of Toronto in its Community Projects category.

This recent vandalism is a serious challenge for the BikeShare program. BikeShare welcomes your ideas on countering this vandalism and safeguarding our bikes. You can contact us at 416-504-2918 or bikeshare@communitybicyclenetwork.org

5 comments

  1. I’ve been pretty unhappy with society in general over the last few days.

    Several weeks ago I left my crummy bike locked up on the Danforth over the weekend and it was stolen. I totally accepted this – and when I went to retrieve my bike, I knew there was little chance it would still be there. It was locked up with a non-U-lock. I think I maybe even did it subconsciously to trigger an excuse to get a nicer bike.

    What sucks is I did go out and buy a nicer bike with a fancy U-lock on Monday. It was much nicer to ride than my old bike, and I was quickly growing fond of it. I thought that U-locks were supposed to be near indestructible, and so I locked my new bike to my porch, but by Thursday it too had been stolen. I’ve since learned about a fancy modified car-jack method thieves use to bust u-locks. They left a 2×4 and the totally bent out of shape u-lock on my porch, if that’s any clue as to how exactly they broke the lock.

    Fortunately, the lock company is going to reimburse me the cost of the new bike – though I’ll still be out-of-pocket $150 as they don’t cover taxes, accessories, police report, shipping the busted lock, and oddly enough, the lock itself (I believe)/ It’s also a big hassle.

    I’ve since bought the same bike again, but this time with the fanciest u-lock and fanciest chain lock available (and I use both locks at the same time), I bring it into my house, and I keep it locked up inside my house. I think never using the bike too would also help with keeping it safe. Maybe I should move to a nice suburb.

    I’m really a non-violent person at heart, and if our society was structured differently than it is, I’d happily support the anarchist motto “Property is Theft”, but I feel nothing would make me happier right now than to pummel the thief’s face in over and over again. I guess one way too look at it is at least I wasn’t beat up and mugged, that would obviously be much worse.

    Not-so unorthodox tips for keeping your bike safe:

    * use the smallest u-lock possible
    * when locking your bike, fill up the space of the u-lock with your bike frame and bike wheel so there’s no room to jam a lock-breaking device into the lock
    * use a u-lock with the key hole facing down rather than at the side
    * have the u-lock facing down towards the ground when in use
    * use a chain lock along with your u-lock
    * register your bike with the police, or at the very least, record the serial # of your bike so when it’s stolen, you can report it and possible get it back
    * as soon as you buy your u-lock, register it with the u-lock company in order to get their anti-theft protection policy (and if your bike is stolen, you can get your money back). With the u-lock company I’m using, I have 15 days to do this

  2. It’s amazing how the worst part of using a bike in the city isn’t the traffic, the smog, the garbage-juice/spray flung up by the tire or chainring tattoos, but just making sure your wheels don’t get jacked.

  3. There are cases I’ve heard of here in Toronto of people happening upon a bike thief, working on their bike, and indeed pummelling them. Most people are non-violent, I think (if they were, we’d probably have self-destructed a long time ago) but something about bike thieves can make the rage come out.

    Car theives are different — car ownership is hooked into a fairly well established system that will at some point return a car to you, after some hassel and perhaps a deductible paid (that you already agreed to). It’s like, a bump in the road.

    Bikes, generally, don’t come with that — yet people need them as much as car people do. So the blow the bike thieves strike is much more personal, without the armourment of State Farm or some such.

    If i saw a bike theif being pummelled, and somehow knew that was the situation, i don’t know if i’d intervene. Even if it isn’t my bike. Bike thieves should know what they’re getting into.

    (however, we should guard against vigilante attacks against people who lost their bike lock key and have to steal their own bike).

    Let loose the dogs of the city!

  4. It would be totally irresponsible of me to suggest that this has ANYTHING to do with the fact that CLEAR CHANNEL and the likes have been eyeing Toronto for their ad-funded bike share system. So I won’t.

  5. Personally, I think all U-Locks should come with a smaller fist-sized version that one could take with them.

    On returning to one’s bike in the process of being stolen, you take out the handy U-lock fist-sized device and do what comes naturally. For self-protection of course. Hey, that guy’s got a hammer or 2×4, and better I get to him first before he gets to me.

    A bad guy gets a lesson, and I get to keep my bike.

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