MONTREAL – A McGill University research team has published a groundbreaking new study on bicycle theft in Montreal that reveals a major problem the city grapples with is a reluctance to report theft.
“Every year about 2,000 thefts are reported in Montreal,” said Dea Van Lierop, a PhD student who was one of the researchers of the study.
“But the actual number is about 20,000.”
That’s out of a total estimate of about 1 million bikes on the Island of Montreal.
There is a common public perception that police don’t make bike theft a priority. But police respond that’s a two way street – without proper identification, and without reporting theft to the authorities, there isn’t much law enforcement can do.
“It’s a priority if we have good statistics,” said Francois Leblanc, of the SPVM. Leblanc spoke at an annual bike identification drive the department has been holding at Parc Maisonneuve.
The study also mapped the difference between perceptions and reality concerning bike theft.
While many cyclists surveyed accurately believed the Plateau and downtown were both trouble spots, no one seemed to think that the West Island experienced any theft. But the reality is that some of the respondents did report thefts on the West Island.
“It’s a problem around here,” said Daniel Davila, a Pointe-Claire cyclist. He said he’s had friends who have had $1,600 bikes stolen near the commuter train line.
Perhaps the most depressing statistic the researchers discovered involved what people do after their bike is stolen – many simply give up – characterized as debilitating for cities that want to encourage sustainable transportation.
“Something that we found was that people who had their bicycles stolen, not everybody was replacing them and then getting back on their bicycles,” she said.
© Shaw Media, 2014