City officials say they’re still on track to roll out anti-theft measures laid out in the 2019 Active Transportation Implementation Plan, but some members of the Kingston Coalition for Active Transportation (KCAT) say that it needs to happen now.
The five year implementation plan, part of a longer spanning Active Transportation Master Plan that aims to get more residents using public and active transportation, includes changes to infrastructure, policy and programming.
Officials say there have been delays due to COVID with some of those changes, but anti-theft work remains on schedule to be implemented by 2022.
Bruce Bursey, a member of the steering committee of KCAT, says the commitment to work on theft policy from 2020-2022 has slipped, and the organization wants city staff and police to see that responding to bike theft should be a priority in Kingston.
Bursey says the rampant issue of bike theft deters some people from considering biking as a legitimate means of transportation, but with more people buying bikes than ever it should be seen as a priority.
He points to initiatives like the Garage 529 registration app and educational campaigns on bike safety that have proven to help reduce theft.
Bursey says in Kingston, these are lacking.
“So this is something that we need strengthened significantly here in Kingston both in terms of the registration system that is preferred and the education for all bike owners to be aware of it and to use it,” Bursey said.
A number of changes in the ATMP have begun in the city, including some bike friendly infrastructure like recent additions of multi-use pathways, but there is no clear indication of where rollout of anti-bike theft measures may stand.
Advocates say the city needs to adapt the implementation plan to address the growing number of bike thefts that have gone along with a spike in purchases, and the current timeline is not soon enough.
Ian Semple, Director of Transportation Services for Kingston, says the components of the plan related to bike theft will be addressed by the end of 2022 and that specifically the city has started to ramp up its’ work on education programs.
He maintained that theft related components remain on track and are being worked on, but dealing with bike theft isn’t directly up to the city and its’ policies.
“I think specifically as it relates to bike theft itself, the city’s involvement is in supporting some of those organizations including Kingston Police and educating and sharing information,” Semple said.
Kingston Police could not be reached in time for comment on adapting to the bike theft problem, and what is currently being done to deal with it.
The increasing worry with many is the boldness of the thefts, with securely stored bicycles on people’s property being taken.
A source told YGK News that last week a thief even used bear spray when confronted by the owner of two bikes.
City councillors say they are aware of and remain committed to the issue, with Councillor Robert Kiley adding he himself has had a securely locked up bike stolen, and that he thinks we need to look at the root causes and some restorative approaches to lessen the rash of crime.
KCAT would say a step of that solution is clear, with Bursey pointing out initiatives in Ottawa to provide public education promoting safe bike ownership making a significant impact on bike theft, as well as Vancouver seeing a 40% drop in bike theft since the implementation of Garage 529 in city programming.
They say the time for city staff and Kingston Police to implement these measures should be pushed ahead to be reflective of the current reality.
Independently, cyclists should mark down the serial number and other identifying information of their bike, take a photo of it and register it with Kingston Police and Garage 529, as well as finding a secure, locked space to leave their bike.
More info on bike theft and Garage 529 can be found in this video.