New cycling security program Operation Rudy aims to curb bike theft on Granville Island

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      If you’ve ever cycled to Granville Island for a fresh box of Lee’s Donuts, only to return to find your two-wheeler missing from the rack, you’re not alone.

      In fact, the tourist destination boasts the highest number of reported bike thefts in the city, a statistic that skyrockets during the summer months. As a result, various civic organizations, including the City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Police Department, and Project 529—an online community that mobilizes its members to prevent bike theft—are banding together to conduct Operation Rudy, a bicycle security program that aims to improve access to Granville Island.

      “We want to get people out of their cars and using different modes of transportation to come here,” Scott Fraser, Granville Island’s marketing and communications officer, tells the Straight by phone. “This gave us an opportunity to really kind of sandbox some ideas of what we can do to make it easier for cyclists, and make people feel more secure about biking.”

      Titled after “Rudy”, a persona that embodies cyclists across the Lower Mainland—ones who remain “dedicated and vigilant” even after experiencing bike theft—Operation Rudy includes the implementation of seven different initiatives on the Island, some of which are ongoing and others that will continue only until the end of summer.

      A free bicycle valet operated by B.E.S.T. will be offered until Labour Day, for example, where visitors can drop off their wheels from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. The valet is situated adjacent to the “Giants” mural and bicycles will be stored in a safe and secure environment.

      Additional bicycle parking has also been set up in high-visibility areas next to the Granville Island Public Market to prevent crowding during peak hours. New signs have been attached to bicycle racks as part of an education campaign that teaches cyclists how to effectively lock their bikes.

      A free bicycle valet will be available for cyclists to Granville Island until Labour Day.
      Granville Island/Dominic Schaefer

      Cats Social House (1540 Old Bridge Street), Granville Island Brewing (1441 Cartwright Street), Off the Tracks Bistro (1363 Railspur Alley), A Bread Affair (1680 Johnston Street), False Creek Community Centre (1318 Cartwright Street), and The Keg (1499 Anderson Street) will also have high-quality ABUS Bordo 6000 folding locks on-hand as part of a loaner lock program.

      To borrow a lock for the duration of their visit, cyclists simply need to leave photo ID with one of the six Granville Island businesses.

      In addition, bicycle-toting guests to Granville Island will be able to register their two-wheelers with Project 529’s 529 Garage service. Recommended by the Vancouver Police Department, the digital bike registration system records your bike’s details, including its serial number, manufacturer, and model, and shares the information with a community of likeminded cyclists if it’s marked as stolen.

      “It doesn’t just engage local police forces, it engages the cycling community,” says Fraser of the service. “When my phone buzzes that a bike has gone missing on Granville Island, I’m a cyclist so I’ll be looking out for that bike. It’s something that I’ve noticed that the cycling community is really excited about.”

      Finally, the Vancouver Police Department has dispatched a number of bait bikes on the Island that will hopefully help deter bicycle thieves. Stickers that read “Is this a bait bike?” are also available for free at the bicycle valet, should cyclists wish to further discourage theft.

      Once Vancouver’s rainy season rolls around, Fraser hopes that the participating organizations and businesses can come together to assess what ideas worked well and which ones need to be fine-tuned for continued use.

      For more information about Operation Rudy, click here.

      Follow Lucy Lau on Twitter @lucylau.