Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Bike thief alert!

Someone has sawn through one of the cycle stands by St James Street station, presumably to steal a D-locked bike. I don’t know how long this would have taken and I’ve not encountered it elsewhere. Let’s hope these gleaming silver cycle stands don’t have an intrinsic design flaw.

These stands are stupidly situated in the alley beside the station, at a site where they cannot be seen from St James Street. The perfect spot for a bike thief. People using the alley would see it but it seems that passers-by never intervene when they see someone liberating a bike. I remember watching a TV documentary a while back where a bike was D-locked across the road from New Scotland Yard, then someone was sent to cut it free with bolt cutters. Passers-by were indifferent, and so were the cops standing nearby.

There are two issues raised by bike theft. One is cycle stand siting. Cycle stands should be located in a prominent position and they should be as close as possible to the facility they are catering for. Far too many cycle stands are tucked away out of sight at the sides or backs of buildings, perfectly situated for bike thieves.

The second issue is the attitude of the Metropolitan Police to the sale of stolen bikes. The car supremacist Met is obsessed with stealing from or of cars, what it calls ‘car crime’. It wastes police time by installing officers in car parks for the day, to hand out leaflets to motorists reminding them to lock up their vehicles. Car theft is regarded as a top priority, and professional car thieves merit enormous police resources, and usually get lengthy sentences (far greater than if they’d killed a cyclist or pedestrian through reckless driving). But the Met is largely indifferent to bike theft. It is a notorious fact that Brick Lane is where stolen bikes are sold on a regular basis, to the indifference of everyone, it seems, but the victims. And even if you find your stolen bike on sale there the cops won’t come and help you.

(Below) Out of sight and in delightfully clean surroundings...