Bike theft is the scourge of cyclists around the world, with riders, manufacturers and the law struggling to coordinate a response. That was until city cop Rob Brunt and Xbox pioneer J Allard devised Project 529
The bicycle was nothing impressive- an ageing mountain bike worth only a couple of hundred dollars- but Vancouver police officer Rob Brunt remembers it clearly. The proprietor, clothed head-to-toe in cheap green waterproofed, on her route to work at the market on Granville Island, stopped Brunt to express worry about her bike. It was locked to a nearby rack, behind a car park and out of sight of passersby- a perfect place for thieves. It was her primary mode of transport and she couldn’t afford to lose it.
The next time Brunt saw the woman, she was crestfallen. The motorcycle had indeed been stolen, forcing her to miss a few days of work and get out on a borrowed ride. She was rubbing together the money for a new lock.
The woman’s story stuck with Brunt.” I learned from that the price of a motorcycle is not indicative of the value to the owner ,” he says.
That was two years ago. Today, a remarkable turnaround has taken place on Granville Island, which was at the time the most difficult spot in Canada’s worst city for motorcycle steal. Since then, bike stealings have declined by more than 70%, an incredible improvement in a problem that is pervasive in nearly every major city in the world. Similar reductions across Vancouver are offering hope that something can be done to combat a phenomenon that stymies the growth of bike culture.
And the turnaround might never had happened if somebody hadn’t stolen J Allard’s bike.
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