Good news, bad news for bicyclists

Fewer bikes are being stolen but a new council initiative means that cyclists could see their iron horses vanish anyway

August 21st, 2012 11:11 am| by admin

New figures from Statistics Denmark have indicated that the number of bicycle thefts has decreased by nearly ten percent.

In 2011, 8,000 fewer bicycles were stolen than in 2009. According to insurance company Topdanmark, which reported 17 percent less claims of theft in 2011 compared to 2009, the reasons include better available locks, police in certain cities escalating efforts against organised bicycle theft, and a financial crisis that has made Danes take better care of their belongings.

Despite the theft decline, there are still 200 bicycles that go missing in Denmark every single day, an amount that likely won’t be dropping any time in the near future. The risk of being caught is minimal because the police simply don’t have the resources to investigate, and thus prioritise more serious crimes.

“A simple case concerning the theft of a bicycle is registered in our case file system. The bike is then notified as missing and then we don’t do anything else,” Carsten Ahrentoft, the lead detective for Funen Police, told Fyens Stiftstidende newspaper. “The number of stolen bikes is so immense that we can’t investigate each theft.”

Lasse Birk had his bicycle stolen in June, and although he found that the perpetrator was selling it on the online marketplace Den Blå Avis, and doing so using his real name and address, the police wouldn’t get involved.

“It was ridiculous. I knew who had my bike and I even had his address, but still the police wouldn’t help,” Birk told The Copenhagen Post. “I had to contact the guy’s brother, whom I knew, and the next day I got my bike back.”

And while Birk’s experience is far from unique, bicycles could be disappearing for a completely new reason in the near future.

The justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), has proposed a law that will enable councils to remove illegally-parked bicycles.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people park their bikes right in front of the entrances to train and metro stations much to the consternation of pedestrians, the elderly and the handicapped,” Bødskov told Berlingske newspaper. “And at the same time the bikes can be a hindrance to rescue operations and cause problems in an emergency.”

As of now, only the police have the right to remove bikes, but Bødskov proposed allowing the councils to move the illegally-parked bikes to an area nearby where the bicyclists can then pick them up.

While the cyclist advocacy association, Cyklistforbundet, agreed to the proposal, they maintained that the government should be investing more funds into creating more bicycle parking spaces.

“The illegally parked bikes are a problem, but the issue stems from a massive lack of space allocated for parked bicycles, especially around Copenhagen Central Station and Nørreport,” Jens Toft Rasmussen, the head of Cyklistforbundet, told Berlingske.

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