An article earlier this month covering repeated theft of a condo dweller’s bicycle caught my attention.  It reminded me of a bit of a struggle I went through myself while living at the condo.

A large part of  moving involves deciding where you’ll park yourself and your “things.” The people part was simple, but the “stuff” part, not so easy. Despite minimalist efforts, we were fortunate to have rented a locker for larger items, such as bikes that came with us on our condo adventure. We had excellent intentions of using the car less, being in such a walkable and “bikeable” location. Did I mention the locker also comes in handy for “smellier” items… such as hockey equipment? Three boys!  

The first time we used our bikes, we walked them from the parking level storage locker up the driveway ramp. Sharing the ramp with cars made me feel slightly uneasy, despite being careful and keeping my herd collected to one side.  Fear replaces invincibility instantaneously once you become a parent.  Moving forward, we opted to store our bikes in our suite, a common preference particularly for avid cyclists with costly bicycles.  Common sense, I must add, dictated that it would not be kept on the balcony. This storage option does however, require having to roll your bike through the common areas, including the elevator, not something I was certain was allowed and every time I did it, felt as though I was breaking a rule. Fortunately no one ever said anything. To be honest, I opted for forgiveness over permission in this case.

Our other option was to rent a bike rack, which I hadn’t considered, since I assumed they were for long term residents. The racks were beautifully lit and well monitored by surveillance cameras. They were actually something most of my visitors commented on upon arrival and expressed envy that their own condos didn’t have such a well thought out feature.   This peaked my curiousity. After checking with the Property Manager, I learned that the community has 136 bicycle racks that are 87% occupied, with 118 registered and assigned bicycles.  Another positive note is that since the PM’s duration at the community, there have been no reported bike thefts. This statistic is unfortunately, not so common.

3,070 bikes were stolen in Toronto last year.  Between 50,000 and 80,000 are stolen in Amsterdam each year. They even have a bicycle graveyard. Calgary was recently even considering a “bait” bike program that would help specifically to catch condo bike thieves.

So where do we stand on the issue? In the past, our condo documents were fairly restrictive and prohibited rollerblades, skateboards and bikes throughout the common areas.  Since then, we’ve listened and learned.  After all, the opportunity we have in staying involved in the communities we build, is the leading contributor to our continued learning and growth.  Residents want choices.  Really, how different is a bicycle coming through the common area than a stroller with a child, or a wheelchair enabling accessibility for someone, or even a luggage cart.  And so we’ve now  adopted a more flexible approach when we turn over a community to residents. We realize that the condominium rules we establish are merely a starting point.  They truly need to evolve and adapt to the people who live in a community every day.  If you’re not sure who they are, take the time to find out. Here’s an example of one community that created a bicycle “committee” and distributed a resident survey to gauge the interest and necessity of an improved bicycle storage facility.

And when all else fails, common sense prevails, as does good neighborly behaviour. If you make a mess rolling your bike in… clean it up, just as you would any other.

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