IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Cost of keeping bikes safe is criminal

‘Plague’ of thefts as cyclists face ‘eye-watering’ charges for secure storage space

28 February, 2020

Green councillor Caroline Russell had two bikes stolen inside a month last year

A “PLAGUE” of bike thefts has sparked calls for affordable secure storage to be made available.

Security issues faced by cyclists have been raised again after it emerged Islington’s own housing chief, Maxine Holds­worth, had her bike stolen from outside the Town Hall in Upper Street.

A 12-year-old boy has since been arrested on suspicion of theft.

Ms Holdsworth’s bike, worth £380, was later recovered by police.

Green councillor Caroline Russell, meanwhile, had two bikes stolen within a month last year.

Activist group Cycle Islington now wants the council to slash the “eye-watering” cost – almost £130 – of a space in a secure bike hangar.

“Bike theft is an absolute plague at the moment, particularly for e-bikes,” a Cycle Islington spokeswoman said.

“Islington Council’s bike hangars cost way too much. Secure good value storage would help many cyclists. £104 per year plus a £25 deposit is eye-wateringly expensive compared to other London boroughs.”

In neighbouring Hackney, hangar spaces cost £42 a year on the street, and £30 a year on estates, plus a £25 key deposit.

There have been roughly 1,000 bike thefts reported to the police every year for the past four years in Islington.

Cllr Russell had her e-bike “gazelle” stolen in September last year when the chain locking it to a post was cut.

She was given a replacement Brompton bike by her insurance company, but less than a month later it was snatched from her doorstep as she carried bags into her house.

Cllr Russell told the Tribune: “Someone was behind me ready to snatch it. I could see them cycling off on it and I chased after them screaming my head off.”

She added: “It was scary, it was someone who was trying to steal something from me, clearly very close to me and very silent.

“They could have come into my house and hurt me. It’s a bit gruesome. I was very shaken.”

Cllr Russell proposed an amendment to Islington’s budget bill which was due to be debated last night (Thursday), suggesting the council halves the cost of parking a bike to a pound a week. She has also proposed raising the price of car parking permits in the borough to £107.25 a year.

An Islington Council spokesman said: “In order to meet demand and enable a fast roll-out, the council has chosen to run Islington’s Bikehangar scheme in-house, rather than wait for external funding to subsidise it.

“This is a not-for-profit scheme, and the permit price reflects the costs of administering the scheme, including purchasing, installing and maintaining the Bikehangars.”

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