To paraphrase CTV News on Vancouver Island, B.C., the irony involved in the theft of Victoria mayor Lisa Helps’s bike parts during a meeting about new bike parking for the city is almost unbelievable.
That, however, is precisely what happened on the evening of Thursday, September 10, when a thief nearly stripped Helps’s bike down to the bare metal outside City Hall, making off with the components. Inside the chambers of the B.C. capital’s municipal government, councilors, meanwhile, were debating the installation of nearly two dozen outdoor bike parking spaces for a downtown development on Yates Street, a measure that was ultimately approved. Its approval, too, came amid controversy about the risk of bike theft theft, an all-too-prevalent concern in the Vancouver Island city.
Given what happened outside city hall to their own mayor, it’s arguable that those concerns, unfortunately, aren’t exactly irrational.
“I came outside after being in a council meeting all evening,” Helps wrote in a Facebook post after she emerged to find the eviscerated carcass of her bike, “and this is how I found my bike locked up right outside City Hall. Needless to say I’m feeling a bit sad. Upside — walkable city so I can get home easily by foot.” To those who made bare carrion of her steed, though, Helps had a simple message:
“But to people who steal bikes or parts thereof: don’t!”
The Facebook post was accompanied by a photo: Helps’s ride sits bereft at its locking station outside City Hall, missing more than a few of its parts. The wheels, notably, are gone; the seat has also been removed. And while it appears that the bike was too thoroughly violated to get a quick count of the stolen components at first glance, the rest of it, no doubt, didn’t fare much better.
Quickly, the Facebook post gathered steam among bike-conscious social media users in the B.C. city. In response, sympathy for Victoria’s top politician was poured out, but so, too, was a good deal of criticism about the ways many feel that the city hasn’t made bike security a priority — with Helps herself now a victim. “Secure bike lockers downtown,” wrote one commenter. “I don’t bring my bicycle downtown often because I don’t want to worry about it when I leave it behind.”
Following her brush with the vultures of bike theft, Helps reminded Victoria cyclists to register the serial numbers of their bicycles with the city’s new bike registry, an initiative of the Victoria police department. The incident also — and in another stroke of bitter irony — came two days after Victoria’s city government announced its “international dram team” of cycling experts, assembled to design the city’s new, and in many cases improved, cycling corridors.