Victoria Zhum, CNN • Updated 12th September 2018
( CNN ) — They’re not just stealing things from your home; they’re taking your life.
There are thousands of people who’ve had their bikes stolen from public areas in Toronto every year — and this month, they got some much-needed support.
It’s called Bike Recovery Month, a campaign in which the city is paying for anyone who finds a bike’s owner’s license plate number to get it back for free.
An estimated 1,500 bikes are stolen every month from public areas in Toronto, according to police statistics , costing the city’s bottom line an estimated $1.7 million (about C$2.3 million) per year.
That’s a pretty big price to pay for a four-wheeled coaster.
Cyclists pay and get no support
One problem is that cyclists, on the whole, don’t get the same support that regular park-goers get.
Even though bike theft is illegal, criminals are getting away with it
Harley Davidson is one of the many businesses that say they’ve been hit.
Traditionally, the city runs much of its anti-theft program through vending machines.
But it’s been clear for a long time that this approach isn’t the ideal solution.
In a survey of Toronto area residents last year , police found that seven out of 10 bike thefts are committed in the city’s parking lots.
According to a survey conducted by the Canadian Pints Are King Coffee Club in 2015, two-thirds of victims knew their bikes had been stolen before they found them.
Thirty-four percent said they had to go to a pawn shop or service station to get their bike back.
Being in downtown Toronto, we often find that our bikes are stolen from one of our best spots, like the bike paths along the Don Valley, which are popular with both cyclists and those who value privacy.
Safety is just not an issue for most of our fellow cyclists in Toronto. I understand that the fear of theft is irrational, as would be a sense of humiliation, but it’s frustrating.
What has to change
Recently, Toronto’s Police Service announced plans to invest in new “cycling awareness initiatives” and “development of safety measures for students commuting to school by bike,” part of Mayor John Tory’s overall, much-heralded vision for more “active transportation.”
Cyclists are generally okay with this idea, as long as the overall concept makes more sense than the current one.