Somebody stole my bike last week. It's the fourth one I've had stolen in Dublin in the 15 odd years I've lived here, and I'll never cycle in this city again.
The chances are that if you are reading this and cycle in Dublin you've had a similar experience – dozens of bikes get stolen in this city every day of the week.
After a cycling hiatus of three years, I decided to get a new bike recently. It was a mixture of wanting to get fit and the motorised traffic getting busier around town that led me back to two wheels. So I dropped a decent amount on a really good bike, one good enough to go up the mountains that would last a few years.
That was until I returned to where I locked the bike and found the scene below. Despite having spent €100 on the best locks money could buy the bike was gone. A month after buying it and despite it being double locked in a car park.
My heart was broken.
Far from cursing the person who stole it, I cursed the lack of foresight from those who run the city, and I cursed myself for spending too much on a bike thinking it could be safe.
This was a professional operation – in broad daylight the thieves somehow sawed through the frame of the bike, leaving the locks intact, presumably, to weld it back again later.
The stealing is blatant and everywhere
How we could fix this
Politicians are out there making all sorts of promises to win votes in the upcoming general election. For many that means lower taxes, benefits or other reforms.
One area where they could have a quick win with tangible results would be a small investment in improving cycling in Irish cities. There have been some improvements over the years (Dublin Bikes, cycle lanes along the canals and the Bike To Work Scheme) but they simply aren't enough.
Some suggestions I'd have on how to alleviate this massive issue...
- Provide secure lock-up areas close to commercial zones
- Make stealing a bike a far more serious crime with much tougher sentences, particularly for repeat offenders.
- Start a campaign deterring people from buying cheap stolen bikes. Certainly, the people who commit these crimes are at fault but others abuying the bikes at ludicrously cheap prices are co-conspirators. While you could never be 100% sure, just don't buy bikes from unreputable sources. Especially if the deal seems too good to be true
The Japanese showing exactly how it should be done
Or get the police to use social media to identify and shame the thieves
I'm sure the reaction of many will be to say "sure fuck him moaning about his expensive bike, that happens every single day". I get that, but it shouldn't and I'm one example out of thousands in this city every year.
Having your bike stolen is like having your house broken into or your car stolen. It feels invasive and gut-wrenching. My biggest pet hate about the whole situation is that no-one except the individual wronged seems to care, and thus we allow it continue.
There is no better way to enjoy a city than on a bike and that has been taken away from me for good this time. We need to get our shit together.