A Man's Bike Is His...

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martin dufresne
A Man's Bike Is His...

 

martin dufresne

Have you read the latest letter to [url=http://www.rabble.ca/now_what.shtml?x=74264]Ms. Communicate[/url]?

One has to feel for « bicycle crusader ». RW pundits and forum freaks are joy-riding the « law and order » bandwagon, while his own principles force him to walk home without his aerodynamic hard-on, denied even the simple solace of a righteous rebel rant with like-minded victims. If MPs are allowed to thump their desks and cops to shoot first and ask questions later, couldn’t he at least be given some moral leeway to rattle court doors, if not be called in to provide an impact statement about the loss of his significant mount? The undeserving poor may not know it, but one can really bond with a Marinoni VR2 Ultra... And imagining it being pawned off for crack hardly worth 1/20th of its value tears a true cyclist’s heart out.
And yet... what is it that so easily turns social crusaders to pitchforks and scythes when a fancy bike disappears? Our money is discreetly tucked away in RRSPs or condominiums, guaranteed by over-education (and racist/sexist/able-ist hiring policies); our dwellings are compact well-locked cocoons of identity trinkets; cars (if any) are silent and sensible... but the modern sports bicyle, generally ultra-light, symbolizes our venture out there, in a world of vulnerability. Privilege at the mercy of a padlock.
Europeans mostly ride clunkers in the city. In Amsterdam or Paris, bikes are either free or rented by the hour, a collective staple. But in our little bohemian-bourgeois world, a man’s "good" bike often seems to be something else altogether : symbolizing health, class, commitment to ecology, a je-ne-sais-quoi of anarchism and, yes, damn it, virility if those tight shorts do their stuff.
Isn’t its disappearance at enemy hands enough to get a guy to find his inner crusader, don a white cape and scream for blood? Has Ms. Communicate no compassion? [img]eek.gif" border="0[/img]
P.S.: Hey, friends of Omar Khadr, want lefty action?... Start spreading the rumour that it’s CSIS that is stealing guys’ bikes...

[ 19 August 2008: Message edited by: martin dufresne ]

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Very thought provoking post Martin, thanks.

martin dufresne

Much obliged, RP. It's not as if I hadn't had my share of bicycles filched, but I am trying to get at a real problem some progressive men have with a consumer good of ambiguous status.

Michelle

I think this was a fabulous response. I think sometimes there's a bit of cognitive dissonance on the left (not everyone on the left, of course) in that many of us feel strongly that the justice system should not be punitive and people (particularly people from working class and underclass backgrounds) should be forgiven for wrongs they commit - until they do something that we as lefties find hits home, and then some of us are like, HANG THEM!

Bicycle thievery is one of those crimes, I've found, where some lefties depart from our usual support for restorative justice and get awfully "law-n-order" about the whole thing. Nothing's too harsh for the guy who stole my bike and sold it for drug money! Whereas if the bike wasn't involved, we'd be sympathetic to a drug addict whose illness drove him to steal, etc.

Most "street crime" is perpetrated by, and against, working class people. And people in authority know that a great way to divide us and to keep control over us is by pushing the idea that we are enemies with each other and that we can use the power of the system to get each other when any of us falls out of line somehow.

Does this mean that no criminals should be prosecuted or that no one should call the police? No, of course not. But to me, it means that, as part of my commitment to progressive justice principles, I support everyone getting a fair shake in court, that I support restorative justice as opposed to torches and pitchforks and angry punishment, and that I support the integration of people who have screwed up back into society. And I also support a critical consciousness of those of us who have not been criminalized of what exactly it means to be a criminal in a society where not everyone has what they need to function properly.

farnival

...wings! without one, they are clipped.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I've never had a complete bike stolen, but I've had seats and wheels ripped off my expensive racing bikes years ago. [img]mad.gif" border="0[/img]

RosaL

I have an old car. Last winter someone broke one of the back windows. There was nothing inside to steal: no CD player (it's an old car!), no speakers, nothing. And if they tried to start it, they didn't succeed. I couldn't afford to replace the window. I was angry. I thought: why couldn't they steal from someone with money? I probably have no more than the people who broke into my car.

I don't think there's any excuse for people who have "difficult lives" to hurt other people who have the same problems. It happens far too often and it makes me mad. But that doesn't mean I believe in revenge.

Besides that, I've got things going on in my life that are a source of (proximate) hope. I'd be surprised if the people who broke my window had that.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Whoever wrote this latest Ms. C does not sound like the same person who wrote the other ones. I call cylon!

Stargazer

I thought Ms C was spot on in this regard. Igor Kent is getting raked over the coals already. Some jackass is calling for 6 months for each bike.

Perfect response Michelle:

quote:

Does this mean that no criminals should be prosecuted or that no one should call the police? No, of course not. But to me, it means that, as part of my commitment to progressive justice principles, I support everyone getting a fair shake in court, that I support restorative justice as opposed to torches and pitchforks and angry punishment, and that I support the integration of people who have screwed up back into society. And I also support a critical consciousness of those of us who have not been criminalized of what exactly it means to be a criminal in a society where not everyone has what they need to function properly.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Stargazer:
Some jackass is calling for 6 months for each bike.

You know, I can understand that, because in some cases, me for instance, I saved up a hell of a long time to buy a great Nishiki racing bike back in 1981, and some asshole stole the front wheel, and another jerk ripped off the crank. 6 months in prison for stealing an expensive bike is about right, unless the culprit offers to make amends, like giving the bike back, or replacing it with a new one - in that case, a simple fine would suffice, in addition to making amends. There has to be something there to discourage theft of something that someone put a hell of a lot of effort into, and which means a great deal to that person.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

What I never understand is people who demand more people serving longer jail terms who can't tell you how much it would cost. Our infrastructure is collapsing, our environment is being rapidly degraded but lets build twice as many prisons right now to house those bike thieves.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I hope that wasn't a response to my post. Why shouldn't a bike thief have to pay a price for the crime, like any other theft?

Stargazer

Rapists rarely get time, let alone 6 months in jail.

6 months per bike? That's what I'm talking about here. I've had two bikes ripped off downtown as well and I don't want to see this man get a long prison term.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Boom Boom:
[b]I hope that wasn't a response to my post. Why shouldn't a bike thief have to pay a price for the crime, like any other theft?[/b]

You need to do some reading on sentencing guidelines and the general range for a first time offence for theft. Six months is an outrageous sentence for a minor crime against property rights and is certainly not the norm.

Sarcasm alert-Mind you jail is no big deal I guess so if your homeless you could steal a bike when the snow flies and at least you would be fed and housed. - the last idea was not the views of this poster.

martin dufresne

quote:


Boom Boom: There has to be something there to discourage theft of something that someone put a hell of a lot of effort into, and which means a great deal to that person.

Communist revolution?
I am sure you will agree that if your standard of "like any other theft" was really operative, our prisons would not be filled with petty thieves but with bankers, advertisers, investment brokers, cult leaders and politicians.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Oh, I agree 100% white collar thieves belong in jail. As for "petty theft", an expensive bike hardly qualifies, does it? I thought petty theft was something like stealing a pair of jeans or something. [img]redface.gif" border="0[/img]

cornerstone

quote:


Originally posted by Michelle:
[b]I think this was a fabulous response. I think sometimes there's a bit of cognitive dissonance on the left (not everyone on the left, of course) in that many of us feel strongly that the justice system should not be punitive and people (particularly people from working class and underclass backgrounds) should be forgiven for wrongs they commit - until they do something that we as lefties find hits home, and then some of us are like, HANG THEM!

Bicycle thievery is one of those crimes, I've found, where some lefties depart from our usual support for restorative justice and get awfully "law-n-order" about the whole thing. Nothing's too harsh for the guy who stole my bike and sold it for drug money! Whereas if the bike wasn't involved, we'd be sympathetic to a drug addict whose illness drove him to steal, etc.

Most "street crime" is perpetrated by, and against, working class people. And people in authority know that a great way to divide us and to keep control over us is by pushing the idea that we are enemies with each other and that we can use the power of the system to get each other when any of us falls out of line somehow.

Does this mean that no criminals should be prosecuted or that no one should call the police? No, of course not. But to me, it means that, as part of my commitment to progressive justice principles, I support everyone getting a fair shake in court, that I support restorative justice as opposed to torches and pitchforks and angry punishment, and that I support the integration of people who have screwed up back into society. And I also support a critical consciousness of those of us who have not been criminalized of what exactly it means to be a criminal in a society where not everyone has what they need to function properly.[/b]


Hear Hear!!! Again Michelle you nail it. 10 points for you for it is the Olympic season.

To love one's neighbour is easy, people of like minds seek each other out. The trick is to love and feel compassion for those who are different from us and those who have wronged us.

As you know rehabilitation requires more than just a pro forma exercise within the judicial system. It requires levels of comprehensive support from the state and a recognition by the one who committed the crime to seek change.

This requires a commitment and a lot of work from all sides and is never easy.

martin dufresne

quote:


Boom Boom:I thought petty theft was something like stealing a pair of jeans or something.

Well, this is why one has to relativize a bike owner's personal, emotional assessment and judge crimes comparatively. You must know that anything worth below $7,000 is considered a "small claim" in Quebec. In comparison, look at the savings&loans scandal in the U.S., which is nothing compared to the current mortgage crisis. Look at what Conrad Black or the Chretien mafia or a con man like Lacroix or Litalien spirited away, with relatively few consequences. A bicyle is petty by those standards. In fact, there isn't one bike worth the costs involved in prosecuting, let alone jailing its thief. As for the dissuasion effect of harsh sanctions, it remains highly questioned, with little evidence for it and much against.

[ 20 August 2008: Message edited by: martin dufresne ]

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

When you look at the big picture, you're right, but that doesn't really bring satisfaction to the victims of the far more common act of bicycle theft. I remember one time Ottawa had an auction of 500 bicycles recovered - the police were unable to figure out who they belonged to. That's in just one city! The question remains - what is the appropriate deterrent to bicycle theft?

Edited to correct the number of bikes auctioned. [img]redface.gif" border="0[/img]

[ 20 August 2008: Message edited by: Boom Boom ]

Papal Bull

quote:


Originally posted by Boom Boom:
[b]The question remains - what is the appropriate deterrent to bicycle theft?[/b]

Capital punishment?

edit:: my bike, aka the crapsicle, was a decent used bike I picked up back when I was 13 (far too small for me now). I covered it with tape and spray painted it a crappy brown, after covering the gears and other important information. I even added some stuff to the wheels. Anything to make it too unattractive to steal. I really don't care who sees me riding it, my bike ain't gettin' stolen.

[ 20 August 2008: Message edited by: Papal Bull ]

martin dufresne

quote:


When you look at the big picture, you're right, but that doesn't really bring satisfaction to the victims of the far more common act of bicycle theft.

I disagree that bike theft is more common than white-collar theft - of vastly superior sums. Think legal loopholes, tax havens, child support default, union-busting...
And Boom Boom, I would have thought that a die-hard Rolling Stones fan like you would have learned by now that you can't get no satisfaction.
As for deterrence, "appropriate" refers to vengeance; it's "effective" you should at least aim for, and so far, no data points to any.

[ 20 August 2008: Message edited by: martin dufresne ]

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

quote:


Originally posted by martin dufresne:

And Boom Boom, I would have thought that a die-hard Rolling Stones fan like you would have learned by now that you can't get no satisfaction.
As for deterrence, "appropriate" refers to vengeance; it's "effective" you should at least aim for, and so far, no data points to any.


Excellent reply, Martin. Thanks!

Michelle

In one way, though, IF this person is convicted and is actually guilty of the crime he's accused of committing, then the police (for once) have caught the guy at the top instead of the people at the bottom of the operation, right?

Hypothetically speaking (since we don't know whether in this particular case the guy is guilty or not), if John Smith is running a bike theft ring to the tune of thousands of stolen bikes, and then selling them through his store, and is paying people who might be down and out and desperate for money (whether to feed addictions or for other reasons) a few bucks piecemeal for each bike they steal and bring to him...then is John Smith still a working class victim who has turned to crime out of desperation?

I don't know the answer to this. I know he's not Conrad Black, but is John Smith still just another working class Joe who went wrong? Or is he an exploiter and victimizer of the people he's using to bring him bikes, a "pimp" of sorts?

Either way, it doesn't change my view of what the justice system should be doing to deal with people who commit crimes. But I just felt that my earlier analysis of working class street crime maybe didn't quite fit this situation perfectly if the accusations turn out to be true.

martin dufresne

Good point. If the man is a fence, he is already one degree removed from the bike owner, whose rancor is inappropriately directed at the thief, a mere operative if the picture given above is accurate. Which is why the victim is not an appropriate agent in pursuing an accountability that would be proportional to responsibility and illicit profit.

Michelle

I totally agree with you on your last sentence.

However, perhaps I just misunderstood the first part of your comment, but in this particular case, if this guy is guilty, then it is the guy at the top that people are angry at, not the ones who actually stole the bikes.

lagatta

I strongly disagree with the dismissive tone of Ms Communicate's column and even more with the opening comment, as well as the title of this thread (which poo-poos a serious environmental concern).

I am not a man, and even if I were, I'd no longer be of the "raging testosterone" age. I'm a middle-aged woman, and have been a cyclist and cycling activist (vйlorutionnaire) for decades. This weekend, we are inaugurating the Claire Morrissette bicycle path through the city core - something we have fought for for many, many years.

I've had several bicycles stolen. None were new, and none were shiny or particularly valuable. In Amsterdam, where most people ride workhorse bicycles, bicycle theft is rampant and a serious social problem.

Often, those bicycle theft caused me very serious harm, as I needed the bicycle to get around and couldn't afford any other way or to buy a new one. It is important to understand that if "working-class" people (actually lumpenised working-class people) commit such crimes, the main victims are other working-class people. The problem, and one of the main sources of anger, is the utter disregard by the police for a crime that not only causes serious harm to cyclists - no, my bicycle may not be worth as much as a car - and I don't have or want a Marinoni in the city - but it is my means of transport and one does develop a great deal of affection for it. It is not so easy to find another that is comfortable, solid and safe (too many bicycles only suit tall people)...

I don't want this guy lynched or beaten up, but it is important to let authorities know that this is a crime that not only causes serious harm to a lot of people - and no, most of them are not lycra louts with too much money and too many toys - but has a very serious negative environmental impact, as it is one of the main obstacles in getting people out of their fucking pollution machines and onto bicycles (weather permitting) and creating carfree cities with intermodal use of bicycles, walking and public transport.

We had a similar problem a while back with a creep who tortured and killed cats - the utter lack of sanctions or seriousness about a very damaging crime.

Not all people who want to make evident the harm such crime does - this is not a matter of some junkie stealing a bicycle for a fix, it is a major network of theft - are vigilantes or machos.

[ 22 August 2008: Message edited by: lagatta ]

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

quote:


Often, those bicycle theft caused me very serious harm, as I needed the bicycle to get around and couldn't afford any other way or to buy a new one. It is important to understand that if "working-class" people (actually lumpenised working-class people) commit such crimes, the main victims are other working-class people. The problem, and one of the main sources of anger, is the utter disregard by the police for a crime that not only causes serious harm to cyclists - no, my bicycle may not be worth as much as a car - and I don't have or want a Marinoni in the city - but it is my means of transport and one does develop a great deal of affection for it. It is not so easy to find another that is comfortable, solid and safe (too many bicycles only suit tall people)...

I don't want this guy lynched or beaten up, but it is important to let authorities know that this is a crime that not only causes serious harm to a lot of people - and no, most of them are not lycra louts with too much money and too many toys - but has a very serious negative environmental impact, as it is one of the main obstacles in getting people out of their fucking pollution machines and onto bicycles (weather permitting) and creating carfree cities with intermodal use of bicycles, walking and public transport.


Thank you lagatta, these are great points, and I was thinking this the other day. I was in a bike accident where a car cut me off and I went over the handlebars and did a belly flop on the pavement. My bike seemed fine, and I only had a few bruises--no broken bones, etc. (although you never really know the severity of your injuries until after, because of adrenaline and stress). So I thought, no harm, no foul, and the guy drove off, even though I had several witnesses.

But, like lagatta says, this was a serious accident, and cars should realize the severity of the crime--a cyclist was killed just a block away from where I was hit, and it could have been much, much worse for me. And last month, I clipped a mirror of a BMW who stopped me and surveyed the damage (prick) before giving me a lecture. So I regret not calling the police.

Bikeriders are marginalized on the road and by society, and unless bike crimes are treated as seriously by the law as other crimes, that won't change.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Catchfire:
Bikeriders are marginalized on the road and by society, and unless bike crimes are treated as seriously by the law as other crimes, that won't change.

Right freaking on!

Bikes are taken seriously in some countries. I recall reading one city (or country?) in Europe started making bikes free for all, by puttting them on street corners - if you want to ride, just take one, and leave it someplace for the next rider. I'm racking my brain, but I can't remember the locale.

The downside to this scheme is the possibility of someone simply piling all these bikes into a truck and selling them elsewhere.

lagatta

[url=https://pi.library.yorku.ca/ojs/index.php/cws/article/viewFile/6616/5804]Le cyclofйminisme et la pйdale douce[/url] by Claire Morrissette as an antidote to the title of this thread.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

From 2007: [url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/23/AR200703... Embraces Plan to Become City of Bikes[/url]

excerpt:

By the end of the year, organizers and city officials say, there should be 20,600 bikes at 1,450 stations -- or about one station every 250 yards across the entire city. Based on experience elsewhere -- particularly in Lyon, France's third-largest city, which launched a similar system two years ago -- regular users of the bikes will ride them almost for free.

Comment: it's a PPP scheme, so I'm a little wary of it, until I know more details.

martin dufresne

Hi Lagatta,
I feel compelled to respond to your generally excellent post.
About the title of the thread - I think it encapsulated the attitude of Ms. Communicate's correspondent and that of the lynch mobsters who are asking for six months in jail per bike stolen (while disregarding much worse acts of thievery). But you are right, there are many women cyclists with much better values than the "lycra louts" which you lampoon - Claire M. was one and a personal friend.
I don't think that pointing out such men's elitist/individualist investment - and their resultant attitude to thieves - is pooh-pooing the environmental value of cycling. I wrote this as a bike rider myself.
As Ms. Communicate points out, the man on trial in Toronto may or may not be guilty; if so, he may be at the top of an operation - as Michelle suggests - or simply an intermediary fence.
I heard much of the extreme hostility in bicycle crusader's letter and some of the posts here as levelled at thieves, not their accomplices (who make most of the money).
Regardless, it seems kind of unfair to make him a scapegoat for all the aggravation felt by bilked bikers. My impression of bicycle thievery is that it's a petty crime for most perps, although organized networks do exist. Indeed, I wonder whether anyone who buys a bike wheel from a shop isn't suspicious of its origin: it's a system.
Why isn't the police harder on it? Are bikes really getting specific negligence? I think a lot of other commodities are not getting recovered - I never expected the wheels of justice to bring back my computer ten years ago - and very few fences seem to be prosecuted: these are not the easiest crimes to prove, especially when bicycle serial numbers are not recorded through proper liciensing.
Another justification for the thread title: Are bike-riders really "marginalized" by something more than their low visibility to car drivers, or is it a case of many male bike enthusiasts marginalizing themselves and their security and civic credibility with what is generally an ultra-libertarian riding style (what red-light?), one that gets them little sympathy from pedestrians and police officers? (Claire and the Monde а Bicyclette folks were quite critical of that pattern.) If the notion of "bike crimes" is to be entertained, a lot of bikers will be the first facing hefty fines.

[ 22 August 2008: Message edited by: martin dufresne ]

lagatta

Oh, lots of Parisian cyclists and ecologists are wary of it too, because it involves a publicity firm, but unlike PPPs in health, education and highways, it doesn't replace an existing service, so I'm not quite so hard on it.

I do see it as a transitional measure that will normalise cycling in what had been a very bicycle-unfriendly major city, and due to the Parisian style profile, will go a long way in making cycling "chic" and not geeky, raising the appeal to a mass base of office workers etc. Ideally, most Paris residents would use their own bicycles - AND BICYCLE THEFT, A MAJOR OBSTACLE TO THIS, WOULD BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY. (Yes, I was shouting).

But municipal bicycle rentals will always be an important amenity for people living in distant suburbs and towns (who commute by train) and non-Parisians.

Still, Paris can be a tipping point for reintroducing practical, urban cycling, in urban clothes. It is a huge progress, despite all our misgivings about PPPs and other aspects of the scheme.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

That article I gave the URL for is actually quite good, and mentions other places (like Lyons) doing basically the same scheme. Worth a look if you haven't read it already.

If Paris can do this, so can Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, etc... [img]tongue.gif" border="0[/img]

martin dufresne

I was in Paris a few months ago and saw a fair number of people using these bicycles. I wanted to cycle around the city but the hourly price structure favours short runs, not full-day gawking.
Montreal has a similar scheme hatching, e.g. the collective bike rack across the street from Mont-Royal mйtro. I would write more but the lengthy directions panel, written in typically-obtuse civil servant prose, exceeded my fruit-fly attention span.

[ 22 August 2008: Message edited by: martin dufresne ]

LemonThriller

I'm curious why Ms. Communicate thinks the question was written by a man?

Bacchus

The accused is looking at between 5 and 15 years in jail I believe. It would not matter if he did get 6 months for each bike. In ontario all sentences are concurrent, that is served at the same time so 100 six mnonth sentences means 6 months in jail total.

now if it was Quebec it would be a different matter

Gir Draxon

quote:


Originally posted by lagatta:
[b]Often, those bicycle theft caused me very serious harm, as I needed the bicycle to get around and couldn't afford any other way or to buy a new one. It is important to understand that if "working-class" people (actually lumpenised working-class people) commit such crimes, the main victims are other working-class people. The problem, and one of the main sources of anger, is the utter disregard by the police for a crime that not only causes serious harm to cyclists - no, my bicycle may not be worth as much as a car - and I don't have or want a Marinoni in the city - but it is my means of transport and one does develop a great deal of affection for it. [/b]

Thanks for saying what needed to be said here. The most expensive bike I've ever owned was $400, and it was stolen from me while I was working as a stock clerk for ~$9.00/hour. Just how many times per year could I possibly be expected to afford to replace that bike? I tried to report it to the police, but it was very clear that they were not interested in it one bit. The story would be different if I had a car, but I certainly couldn't afford one back then.

Daedalus Daedalus's picture

Michelle wrote:
I think this was a fabulous response. I think sometimes there's a bit of cognitive dissonance on the left (not everyone on the left, of course) in that many of us feel strongly that the justice system should not be punitive and people (particularly people from working class and underclass backgrounds) should be forgiven for wrongs they commit - until they do something that we as lefties find hits home, and then some of us are like, HANG THEM!

Bicycle thievery is one of those crimes, I've found, where some lefties depart from our usual support for restorative justice and get awfully "law-n-order" about the whole thing. Nothing's too harsh for the guy who stole my bike and sold it for drug money! Whereas if the bike wasn't involved, we'd be sympathetic to a drug addict whose illness drove him to steal, etc.

 

No! Not me, anyway.

My opinions on theft go like this. It's always bad, but for me there are shades of more bad and less bad based on the hardship that the thief imposes on the victim. Less bad would be stealing from a giant corporation (unless it's billions like Madoff). The impact is so diffused and so easily absorbed that the hardship for the victim(s) is minimal. Worse, is stealing from a private individual, because the impact is much less diffused and all the hardship is experienced by a single individual or household. But the absolute worst of all is to steal something necessary to someone's livelihood, such as tools for a trade, or cash or food from a low income person (especially a single mother - that is unforgivable), because these sorts of things impose massive hardship on the victim for so little benefit to the thief.

I get around on my bike because I can't afford a car and even the bus is sometimes too expensive. I need it to be able to afford to go to work, do groceries and so on. Losing it ... well, I've got no real means of covering the loss except to eat Ramen noodles for a month, which is what I had to do the last time someone stole my bike. I had no money for laundry either - it was terrible, and it seemed to last an eternity. Thankfully I don't have any children.

I have absolutely no sympathy for bike thieves. That doesn't mean I support harsher penalties for theft or depart in any way from my notions of justice as deterrence and anti-recidivism as opposed to vengeance and punishment. I think the penalties on the books for theft are quite sufficient for bike thieves; I'd just like to see more of them caught and forced to abandon the practice due to a high likelihood of social sanctions (like fines, community time, and jail).

Bike thieves are not necessarily drug addicts forced to steal because of a chemical dependancy. I once knew a pair of bike thieves, they were bike couriers and they were making above the minimum wage. They stole cheap bikes - or rather tires from cheap bikes - out of neighbourhoods where alot of people were on welfare or minimum wage, and traded them to bicycle repair shops for expensive parts. They smoked a little pot but they weren't drug addicts. They just wanted more stuff.

As far as the extreme reactions some have when their bicycle is stolen, I don't think it's fair to chalk it all up to men who invest rugged individualism in their hobby or whatever. For some people, the loss of a bicycle is the loss of affordable transportation that just isn't easily replaced. The police don't care - there would be more concern if you reported a pda or something stolen. In fact, they will be pissed off if you call to report your bike stolen.  I don't think this is particularly anything to do with motorists vs cyclists, maybe a little bit, but I think mostly it's because there are three kinds of people who generally get their bikes stolen: youth, the poor, and lefties (with many victims fitting multiple categories), all groups that the police seem to have difficulty treating fairly and equally.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
Bike thieves are not necessarily drug addicts forced to steal because of a chemical dependancy.

The man accused in this case was by no means living a squalid, hand-to-mouth, addicted life. He was also found with significant amounts of several drugs, as I recall. To pretend that he was in any way "forced" to steal hundreds of bikes out of some kind of drug addiction is nothing short of intentionally misleading. He was "forced" the way Bernie Madoff was.
When babble's archives come back online, and are searchable, will I find lots and lots of people arguing against jail time for Madoff? What about Conrad Black? Is some punitive jail time OK for Sir Tubby? He did steal from other rich people, after all, which must be worse than leaving hundreds of low-income Torontonians without their only means of transportation, ja?

Scott Piatkowski Scott Piatkowski's picture

Google found this old thread for me.

I wanted to rant against the new graphic novel and not-so-new documentary of Igor Kenk that were being celebrated this morning on CBC Radio.

According to the author, Igor Kenk was "not a villain". He was just someone who "found a loophole in the law" and "had a bit of a hoarding problem."

I swore at the radio. A little later on (when I was confident that I could do so without swearing), I call their talkback line to complain.

This man was not and is not a hero. He is a criminal.

Why not interview some people who have had their bikes stolen?

Michelle

I'm pretty sure they did a lot of interviews of people whose bikes were stolen at the time when the whole story broke about Kenk.

Michelle

To be clear, I was not talking about Kenk when I wrote that quote above in post #38.  I was talking about the people who were stealing the bikes and bringing them to Kenk.

But when it comes to Kenk, while I also had to laugh at the description of him by the guy who wrote that book when I heard it on Metro Morning this morning, I agree that it's not like the guy is evil incarnate and must be declared a dangerous offender and locked up forever (which is what he would have been if he had gotten the sentence Stargazer was telling us upthread that she heard people demanding - six months per bike). 

I mean, what IS that?

Sineed

Apparently, bike thefts in Toronto dropped by one-third after Kenk was pinched.  We had four bikes stolen during those years.  My husband lost one from Bloor W in the middle of day, just 10 days after he bought it - and yes; it was locked.

People get emotional about bike theft because a bike is such a personal thing, and also, bikes are frequently stolen from children and low-income people, and usually are not insured.  The victim is often left stranded and has to come up with cab or transit fare to get home.

And yeah, Scott - how is stealing bikes a "loophole in the law?"  How is trading crack cocaine for bikes anything other than total d-baggery?  

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

It's been getting lots of play in the t.o. bike blogosphere.  Even though the guy might actually be interesting I see it more as an attempt to capitalize on controversy than anything. Afterall there are plenty of interesting bike characters.  Can't really blame the author as it's the type of forkin' spoons that the masses like to eat with.  A related issue that seems to be creating a more legit stir(if more subtly) is what happens to the abandoned bikes the city removes and consequently how justifiable is it to 'steal' a bike that the city is about to throw away.

What's the value of an abandoned bike? Well, I found a bike that had been left out to be taken away(Honestly, it wasn't locked, it wasn't stolen, I even ended up living with the bike giver for a year.) and for the trivial cost of a few parts, many orders of french fries and some love it's been taking me near and far around toronto and ontario for years.  Sadly it's old weathered leather seat finally ripped in half on me last week...the most comfy seat I've ever had :(

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
People get emotional about bike theft because a bike is such a personal thing, and also, bikes are frequently stolen from children and low-income people, and usually are not insured.  The victim is often left stranded and has to come up with cab or transit fare to get home.

 

Here's my thinking: if you REALLY, REALLY think that in order to get high and feel good you NEED to victimize someone, why not victimize some millionaire? Or steal from some big corporation? Stealing from Canadian Tire is bad. Stealing from your neighbour? Really, really low. Expect to be treated like sack of pus when you do that.

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

Snert wrote:

Here's my thinking: if you REALLY, REALLY think that in order to get high and feel good you NEED to victimize someone, why not victimize some millionaire?

The citizens victimizing the 'poor' might see their neighbour as relatively rich and they probably do need to do it to get 'high' to quench addictions.  While I've had a crappy quick release wheel disappear I've never had anything that was actually locked up and requiring preparation to steal disapear...presumably what I ride doesn't look high-end enough to real bike theives but maybe I'm just lucky.

However, we collectively seem to be targeting the 'poor' through our public services.  I believe the poor are the most likely to have to store their bikes outside on the street due to lack of space and be the most likely to not be able to afford regular tune-ups and shiny new parts. These are the kind of bikes the police will take(would 'steal' be too strong a word?).  Disposing of these parts also decreases the amount of available parts/bikes in circulation and therefore increases the cost of riding a bike for the 'poor'.

Ottawa seems to have the good sense to put the bike they acquire to use. It's disgraceful that Toronto does not.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
The citizens victimizing the 'poor' might see their neighbour as relatively rich and they probably do need to do it to get 'high' to quench addictions.

 

Both of my parents were alcoholics, my mother until she died young, and my father until his liver gave out, so I do have some sympathy for an addict.

 

At the same time, I saw both of them crave a drink -- bad -- when they had no money, but it simply wouldn't have ever occurred to them that their craving was a moral justification to victimize a neighbour. And for what it's worth, I think that whenever we assume that addicts are slaves to alcohol or cocaine or meth, we're infantilizing them. As soon as we assume that all of their decisions are being made by the drug, and not them, they're effectively children. I don't buy that.

 

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

but the police/government officials are justified in wronging others because they have a job to do?  because they wear suits or uniforms? because they pay taxes? because tv and coffee addicts are more predicatble? why?

Snert Snert's picture

I'm not sure I understand your question.

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

ebodyknows wrote:

  A related issue that seems to be creating a more legit stir(if more subtly) is what happens to the abandoned bikes the city removes and consequently how justifiable is it to 'steal' a bike that the city is about to throw away.

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