The increase in the number of cyclists in Paris goes hand in hand with an increase in the number of stolen bicycles. On Facebook, cyclists signal and try to spot their bikes.
“Sometimes we find bikes, but we also avoid theft,” says Victor Fromageot, the 18-year-old who created the Facebook group “Stolen Bikes Paris / Suburbs”. For two years, the latter has been collecting announcements of bicycle thefts, to allow other cyclists to become “mobile cameras in Paris ” and in the suburbs.
“I launched a bottle at the sea”
One gets a little out of spite, in this group, “often when one has just been stolen his bike”, explains Victor. Cyclists deprived of their horses post a photo, say where the robbery took place and hope that a watchful eye will spot it. And sometimes, it rolls!
On 11 July, Nicolas, posted photos of two of his bikes, one decorated with stickers, stolen in the Xth district. “I use it to go to work, and one morning they were gone, the lock was twisted on the iron bar,” he says:
“A bit desperate, I threw a bottle overboard on the group and on Twitter so someone would warn me if he saw it.”
A bottle arrived safely, almost a month later. On Tuesday 6th August, another user post the photo of the bike stickers and the mention “seen under the bridge at the door of the Chapel”. On vacation, Nicolas warns two friends who go there. The bike is hooked, “watched closely” by a group surrounded by other bikes with questionable appearance, says one of the two saviours.
En face, de nombreux jeunes nous regardent d’un œil attentif pour ne pas dire menaçant. Une camionnette s’arrête et en sort un vélo Jump. D’autres vélos en face. On dirait un trocathlon non officiel.
Ça pue, nous décidons de ne pas rester. 3/n ⬇️⬇️⬇️ pic.twitter.com/ZNvNz1jgzv
— Ailes cyclables (@AilesCyclables) 6 August 2019
After having the reinforcement of the police, they were able to recover the bike and put it “in a safe box”. “I did not expect it to be found,” Nicolas snorted. Some friends had subscribed to buy a new one, but he will keep the one found on Tuesday “to help people get into trouble.”
“Mobile cameras in Paris”
The chance of the young man of 20 years is rather rare. In two years, “a dozen bicycles have been found,” said Victor. When he created the group in May 2017, it was to gather “all the posts that I saw, my friends who had their bikes stolen”. The small community, bringing together nearly 2,000 people, relies on mutual aid between cyclists:
“We are mobile cameras in Paris, when we ride a bike we analyze our environment. It does not solve the problem but it helps people a bit.”
The other way is the discussions between members and the exchange of advice. “Put a U-lock and a big chain, do not leave a new bike outside, be careful at the place or the hours when you park, have automatic pedals, unpleasant without specialized shoes …” And above all, important point:
“Those who buy non-personalized bikes can not find them easily.”
So let your creativity, it may help you in case of trouble!