Crafty bike removal caught on camera ignites calls for more bike parking

A shaky cellphone video of a man removing Montreal parking signs to take a bicycle was widely circulated on social media over the weekend, accumulating over 340,000 views in just a few days.

Mayor Valérie Plante said city needs more bike parking spots to help reduce theft

As of Monday morning, the video of a bike posted on the Spotted: Montreal Facebook page had more than 340,000 views and that count was continuing to climb rapidly as people shared the video. (CBC)

A shaky cellphone video of a man removing Montreal parking signs in order to apparently steal a bicycle was widely circulated on social media over the weekend, accumulating over 340,000 views in just a few days.

The Montreal Bike Coalition's Geoffrey Bush says the technique is nothing new, but it does highlight a need for improved bike parking throughout the city.

"The fact is, we have a lot of cyclists and a lack of infrastructure," Bush told CBC News. "It's that simple."

The video, posted to the Spotted: Montreal Facebook page, shows a middle-aged man standing on a trash can using hand tools to remove parking signs on Chapleau Street.

Video of man removing Montreal street signs to take bike

3 years ago
The video was shared online July 27 and has garnered thousands of views. 0:45

After removing the street signs, the man lifts the bike off the post. The apparent theft appears to take less than three minutes, even though the man falls off the garbage can once and waits for a few cars to pass.

The post says the incident happened at 5 a.m. on Friday.

The video has garnered nearly 5,000 shares and more than 1,000 comments. 

Montreal police said they were contacted about a missing bike Monday afternoon and are currently investigating.

A lack of bike parking

Montreal's already large population of cyclists is continuing to grow, Bush said, and the city wants to encourage that growth. To do that, he said cyclists need to feel secure both on and off their bike with protected bike paths and adequate bike parking.

According to Montreal police, approximately 2,000 bicycles are reported stolen each year, but most thefts aren't reported.

Montreal's Cycling Master Plan, released last summer, acknowledges there is a lack of bike parking in the city.

One of the plan's 10 core goals is to improve the "quality and supply of bicycle parking across Montreal, particularly in central neighbourhoods," in order to encourage active transportation.

Montreal intends to get public and private partners involved in creating bicycle parking spaces. 

"There is a lack in bike supports because in recent years, the number of cyclists has increased exponentially and the number of bike supports has not followed," Mayor Valérie Plante said Monday. 

While Montreal's cycling plan was adopted under the previous administration, Plante said her administration is addressing the issue. 

For example, she said the Ville-Marie borough will install 1,000 new bike parking spots in the coming year. Her administration is encouraging other boroughs to take on similar initiatives.

Adding more bike parking spots, she said, helps keep bikes secure and it protects the city's trees from damage when bikes are locked onto them.

Like many Montrealers, Plante said she has had her own bike stolen, and, though citizens should take steps to protect their property, she said the city also needs to provide adequate parking to help reduce bicycle theft.  

Cyclists aren't supposed to lock their bicycles to city infrastructure unless it is a dedicated bike parking spot.

In some cases, the city may even clip the lock and confiscate the bicycle if the spot is considered a nuisance, charging the owner a hefty fine to get their bike back.

Ways to keep your bike safe

Bush said it is up to the city to provide adequate bike parking to meet its goal of encouraging more cycling.

He has some tips for cyclists. When securing a bicycle to infrastructure not designed for bike parking, Bush said people should make sure it is not "adjustable" like a street sign that can be easily removed.

"Why would someone lock their bike on a no parking sign? A: It's a against the law and B: It's not secure, as this video has demonstrated."

Bush said people need to use a good lock when securing their bike and should use infrastructure actually designed for bicycle parking even though there isn't enough.

But if that fails, he encourages people to report stolen bikes and also to use services offered by the SPVM, such as bike engraving, to help discourage thieves. 

The SPVM's Projet Numéro registers the bike's make, model and description with the police and a number is engraved on the bike that allows police to identify the owner should it be recovered. 

An ID number engraved on the bottom of your bike frame allows police to help return it to you if it's recovered after being stolen or lost. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)
"The engraving is free, and provides a deterrent since it makes it more difficult for a thief to sell a bike," states the SPVM's website.

Bush said he doesn't use an expensive bike to commute around the city and also encouraged used buyers to double check the police registry when buying a bike to ensure it wasn't stolen.

If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is, he said.

With files from CBC's Elias Abboud


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