Safe, secure bike storage spots are few and far between in Wellington city, leaving people’s bikes vulnerable to theft. Pictured: Ben Zwartz at the new Locky Dock stand at Newtown Countdown.
Bike theft is on the rise nationwide, and bike owners say a lack of safe, secure public bike parking is contributing to the problem.
On the Wellington Stolen Bikes Facebook page, another stolen bike is listed every day. Bikes are being snatched from footpaths, stolen from locked cars or sheds, and taken en masse from apartment building basements.
AMI executive general manager for claims, Wayne Tippet, said of the 6665 claims received for bikes over the past two and a half years, 38% were due to theft – a 2.5% increase over this period. Instances where a stolen bike was recovered once they had paid a claim were “not common”, he said.
Local resident Klara Sadlova saw her bike stolen from the other side of a window at an inner city cafe. A man in a hoodie ran into view, jumped onto her bike, and took off at speed.
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She chased him, but the bike was lost, and the experience rattled her. “I don’t feel safe in the city any more,” she said.
She reported the theft to police and asked surrounding businesses and the council for security camera footage, but was told it was only available to police.
Since the theft, she had joined the Facebook page Wellington Stolen Bicycles as an administrator, promoting good security and registration habits.
But it was an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. “Nothing is being done about safe places to park bikes,” she said. At least one bike per week was listed as stolen online from the Grey St bike racks, she said.
Wellington City Council spokesperson Victoria Barton-Chapple said there was a CCTV camera at this intersection, which included the bike rack.
“We are putting in more bike parking around the city, and in time this will include more stands like the one in Grey Street. Security is always a consideration, so wherever possible bigger stands will have CCTV,” she said. More public parks would come as part of Let’s Get Wellington Moving.
Richard Hovey, a bike rack designer, said convenience and a feeling of security around where people could leave their bikes played a big part in which businesses people frequented.
“It’ll be even more of an issue if the proposed support for e-bike purchases next year as part of the Climate Response Plan further boosts the number of people buying e-bikes,” he said.
A new free Locky Dock station was installed outside Newtown Countdown this week. Local bike owner Ben Zwartz said it was a little more complex than locking it to a pole, but felt much safer and “certainly way more stable than the regular rack you’d slot your bike tyre into”.
Zwartz has been biking around the city for 40 years, and normally carried a piece of thick chain and a padlock. His advice to bike owners was to lock up well – cable locks weren’t enough. “If you’re going to invest in a bike, it makes sense to invest in a decent lock.”
He would like to see more around the city. “I think there’s a growing need at the railway station.”
The regional council provided bike parking through its public transport arm, Metlink, providing bike-and-ride spaces at railway stations.
According to its website, there are 92 bike spaces along the Wairarapa line, 24 on the Johnsonville line, 200 along the Kāpiti line, 12 along the Melling line and 153 along the Hutt Valley line. Out of 47 stations, nine did not have bike parking options.
Only some were covered by security cam
eras, Gain said. Stations lacking infrastructure were under review, and “all major station upgrade projects include provision for additional bike parking”.
Andrew Charlesworth from Big Street Bikers, the company bringing Locky Docks to New Zealand from Europe, said they were working on a countrywide plan for 100 more locations, and another would soon be installed at Paraparaumu Station, and up to 20 more in the Hutt.