Bike theft in Toronto is ridiculously high, as I noted last week when I mentioned the Toronto Star article that stated pedestrians and onlookers fail to notice or report a bike being stolen in plain view in broad daylight.
I also mentioned how important it is to lock your bike to a fixed object, preferably a bike stand, or bad things may happen to your bike. Witness what happened when a terrible Toronto thief tried to steal my bike last week after I locked my bike to a bike stand that was not bolted to the sidewalk.
Attempted bike theft looks like an ugly mess, no? My heart sunk when I approached the scene of the crime after the Hedly concert at the Air Canada Centre, because I knew these four “don’ts,” but I still did:
- I knew not to lock it in that dark corner between two deserted office towers.
- I knew the area across Union Station was blocked from traffic and pedestrians by construction, so there was minimal visibility.
- I’d thought about finding a post-and-ring stand in a more visible spot, but my friend insisted our bikes would be safe (aside: peer pressure sucks!).
- I knew to lock my bike to the closed part of the stand, but the open end is easier to lock up to, so that’s what I did. Dumb, I know. You don’t need to say it.
So, filled with dread at the thought that someone stole my bike, a lot of “I shouldn’t haves” and “you should have known betters” ran through my head.
Because, believe it or not, that wasn’t the first time I’d locked my lovely hybrid to a movable object. Two summers ago, I locked my bike to a temporary fence at the free Metric concert outside Toronto’s Union Station, steps from this most recent crime scene, and my bike was taken. Yes, I’m that stupid. I did it twice!
You can see in the photo below that my bike survived my first round of cycling stupidity. My beloved Kryptonite New York lock is securely locking it to my friend Katie’s bike, which is locked to the barricade, which is nowhere near where we had locked our bikes!
That’s right! Immediately after the Metric concert, while Katie and I were obliviously sipping coffee at a café down the street, the nice people at Sidan Traffic Control (the company that sets up barricades for street events throughout Toronto) tore down the barricades and took them – with our bikes still attached to them!!! – to a storage facility.
Of course, we knew nothing about that when we realized Front Street would be opened to traffic soon after the concert ended. We were simply panicked that the mysterious event organizers had cut our locks and abandoned our bikes. The horror I felt when I saw Front Street completely clear of barricades – and my bike! – made me want to cry. I mean, I love my bike. She’s my baby – my first bike as a full-grown Cyclist with a capital C.
But all my years as a fact checker paid off. The researcher in me pushed the panic aside and sussed out the situation. We asked someone who was tearing down the stage what had happened to the bikes, and she told us Sidan had put everything in a truck, bikes included.
Skeptical that our bikes were OK, we went across the street to the The Fairmont Royal York hotel and asked the kind concierge to look up the phone number for Sidan, so we could leave them a message on the spot. I also emailed Sidan when I got home. (Fact checking has taught me to harass people till I get the information I need, and I’m rather good at it!)
Sean at Sidan emailed and called early the next day to say our bikes were safely stored in Toronto (rather than at their head office in Bolton, Ontario, a good 50 kilometres north). Fully aware that stupid cyclists like ourselves often lock bikes to their barricades, our Sidan angels had thought, “Oh, it happened again. Load the whole kit and kaboodle into the truck.” Phew! Best. News. Ever.
Heart soaring with relief, I arranged to pick up our bikes that day. Since Sidan closes early, Sean left the bikes – still locked to the barricade – hidden behind some shrubs. And that’s where we found our babies! I took the picture above as a reminder to never, ever lock my bike to a movable object again.
Obviously, I didn’t learn my lesson. But hopefully you did! Read about my 6 tips for locking your bike, and then do as I say, not as I do!
And this is how to lock your bicycle to prevent bike theft!
For more on bike safety, check out…
How to Lock Your Bike to Prevent Bike Theft
Girly Gear to Light Up Your Ride
Use Your Knog(gin): Ride With a Bright Bike Light
I Heart My TV Sucks Ride Your Bike Bumper Sticker
‘Cause I Love My Brain, I Want a Nutcase Helmet
Simi Mini Dots Nutcase Helmet Fit for Minnie Mouse
Ciao Bello to My New Public Bike Bell, Federico!