'A badge of shame' - 2,000 more bikes stolen in Edinburgh than Glasgow in three-and-a-half years as campaigners call for better security

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Cycling advocates are calling for more secure bike sheds outside homes and workplaces as it emerged 2,000 more bicycles were stolen in Edinburgh than Glasgow in three and a half years.

New figures reveal 6,414 bikes were stolen in the Capital between April 2017 and August 31 compared to the 4,412 nabbed in Scotland’s biggest city.

It means five bikes a day on average were stolen in Edinburgh over this time period.

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The new figures, obtained under freedom of information laws, also showed just one in 13 bike thefts reported in Edinburgh and one in every 16 in Glasgow have been solved.

Edinburgh recorded 2,000 more bike thefts than Glasgow between April 2017 and August 31 this year. Pic: Rainer Fuhrmann/ShutterstockEdinburgh recorded 2,000 more bike thefts than Glasgow between April 2017 and August 31 this year. Pic: Rainer Fuhrmann/Shutterstock
Edinburgh recorded 2,000 more bike thefts than Glasgow between April 2017 and August 31 this year. Pic: Rainer Fuhrmann/Shutterstock

Edinburgh-based police Inspector, Steven Stewart, said the Capital is a “cycle-friendly city” with a large student population and a minority will look to exploit this, stressing officers have worked with students and other bike owners to offer crime prevention advice and help with bike registration to identify stolen property.

Research published on the Scottish Parliament website in 2018 also showed 3.6 percent of all trips were made by bike in Edinburgh compared to 1 percent in Glasgow, with the proportion of commuter bike trips in the Capital at 10 percent compared to Glasgow’s 2.4 percent.

‘Badge of shame’

Despite multiple anecdotal reports of bike thefts during lockdown, the true number of incidents reported between March and August across Scotland is consistent with previous years.

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Edinburgh Green councillor, Gavin Corbett, said: “It’s still a badge of shame that Edinburgh tops the league table for bike thefts in Scotland.

“That might be for a number of reasons. There are certainly a lot more people cycling in the city now and that appetite will only grow as cycling routes are put in. But not everyone has high-quality locks yet and there are certainly a lot of quite expensive road bikes and mountain bikes around which attract thieves’ attention.

“Far more could be done to improve the security and safety of bike storage. Employers should be offering safe, well-lit indoor spaces for staff to store bikes. In residential areas, especially in flats, far more of the ‘bread-bin’ style bike stores are needed and at prices people can afford to pay. The bottom line is that better security needs to be part of the cycling revolution.”

Recent bike thefts in Edinburgh have included incidents outside a Pure Gym in Granton and, in May, a brazen thief cut the armoured lock from a bicycle belonging to a doctor working on a Covid ward outside the main entrance to the Western General Hospital.

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In another case, a worker for the substance misuse service in Leith told the Edinburgh Evening News that CCTV from a local guest house showed a man spending about 10 minutes stealing her bike which was secured to a rack outside her workplace.

Professor Chris Oliver, of Spokes Lothian Cycling Campaign, also called on employers to offer secure workplace bike parking and advised cyclists to fit bicycles with a tracking device and ensure they have insurance in place.

He said: “Bike theft is extremely upsetting to cyclists that are now using their cycle to actively commute because of the pandemic.

“If your bike is stolen, check on local social media sites for suspiciously low prices and check on Gumtree and eBay. You might be lucky and can recover your stolen bike.”

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