Thief loots mayor's bike during meeting on cyclist parking
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps had wheels and a seat stolen from her bike during a council meeting Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. (Twitter/@LisaHelps)
The irony isn’t lost on Lisa Helps.
A thief stripped the Victoria Mayor’s bicycle for parts outside of City Hall Thursday night – just after council approved two dozen outdoor bike parking spaces for a downtown development, despite public concerns of theft.
The mayor posted a photo of the bike, which had both wheels and the seat stolen, to her Facebook profile after the meeting ended just after 11 p.m.
“I came outside after being in a council meeting all evening and this is how I found my bike locked up right outside City Hall,” Helps wrote. “Needless to say I’m feeling a bit sad. Upside – walkable city so I can get home easily by foot. But to people who steal bikes or parts thereof: don’t!”
The post attracted a lot of attention, garnering hundreds of comments and shares on the social media site.
Many commenters sympathized with Helps, while others took the opportunity to criticize the city for not providing enough secure bike storage to residents.
“It’s a sad day when the mayor of our fine city gets her trusty steed vandalized after a long day working on our behalf. Sorry to hear this, Lisa,” wrote Tia Benn.
“Secure bike lockers downtown, not social experiments like bike boxes and what’s planned for Pandora, please,” said Michael Poplawski. “I don’t bring my bicycle downtown often because I don’t want to worry about it when I leave it behind.”
The post also sparked criticism of police for a perceived lack of sympathy when reporting bike thefts, while others called for a city-wide bait bike program.
The theft occurred during a regularly scheduled council meeting in which councillors and the mayor addressed, among other things, a proposal to install bicycle racks outside of the Dominion Hotel at 759 Yates St.
The development variance permit application also included 73 bike locks inside the building in addition to the outdoor spaces.
But a letter from concerned resident Paul Seal, who operates the I Heart Downtown Victoria Facebook page, described safety concerns with the outdoor locks.
“I believe that 72 or 73 in-building bike parking spaces is not sufficient for a 97-unit building that has no car parking, and I believe the proposed 24 outdoor bike parking spaces are an invitation for bike theft for any bikes left outside overnight,” Seal said.
Helps agreed it was ironic the discussion surfaced presumably while her bike was being looted and said indoor spaces at the building should help alleviate the theft.
“It is, but the thing about the Dominion Hotel is that everybody recognizes this is a problem,” she said. “Minor bike parking outside, but they’ve got secure bike parking for their tenants inside the building.”
She said she doesn’t believe that the theft was targeted.
Helps also reminded cyclists to register their serial numbers with Victoria police’s new bike registry to help stop thefts.
The incident happened two days after City Hall announced it had assembled an “international dream team” of cycling experts to help design the city’s new and improved bike corridors.