Allison Orr’s bike was significantly damaged when the communal rack it was locked to got moved without advance warning. And, so far, no one’s taking responsibility for it.
Allison Orr lives on her bike. The vintage, handmade touring two-wheeler is the most valuable thing she owns. Last year, she biked 4,600 km from Toronto to Vancouver on it. Earlier this year, she moved into an apartment on it. These days, she uses it to get to and from work multiple times a week—a 40-km round trip. When she’s not riding it, it’s by her side or in the safety of her home. But at 5:40 p.m. on Oct. 19, she left it behind, locked to a communal bike rack at the Exhibition GO Station.
“Normally, I would take my bike on the train with me, but you’re not allowed to in rush hour,” says Orr, a vegan-dessert chef. “I was like, ‘It’s one weekend. It’s not a big deal…’ So I locked it up. And I’ll regret it forever.”
When Orr returned to the city this past noon on Monday, the entire bike rack was gone. To her relief, she quickly found it, moved slightly from its original location with her bike and about a half-dozen others still attached. But her bike computer had been suspiciously shoved into the hole of her seat, and as soon as she tried to pedal away, she noticed her brand new fork was bent, which made it impossible to ride. Now, she’s without her main mode of transportation and, as of yet, any answers.
“Obviously, the rack was moved in some official capacity,” she says. “Anyone just messing with it would have just taken my stuff.”
The rack, which used to be one of a pair located at the southern end of Atlantic Avenue in Liberty Village, was moved a few dozen feet down a slight hill and left against a fence by the train tracks. Orr’s best guess is that the bike rack was moved to accommodate nearby construction. According to a sign posted at the Exhibition GO Station, the construction is part of a series of improvements that would will a new track to the north side, an elevator, and an extended pedestrian underpass. The racks themselves, however, don’t belong to GO Transit, according to a representative who spoke to Orr, as well as the station’s webpage, which states that bicycle parking isn’t available at the station. (Update, Nov. 2, 2012, 2:40 p.m.: Mark Ostler, Media Relations for Metrolinx, tells The Grid that “the bike rack belongs to GO Transit and was originally moved to Atlantic Avenue to accommodate improvements underway at Exhibition Station. Neither GO Transit, nor its contractors moved the bike rack from its Atlantic Avenue location. It appears that this was done by individuals unconnected to our work.”)
On the same day that Orr filed a formal complaint and insurance claim with the City, a City representative called her. According to Orr, he suggested the damage was GO Transit’s responsibility, that a car might have hit the rack, and that she contact the police to resolve the issue. She later emailed Ward 19 Councillor Mike Layton, whose constituency assistant is currently trying to determine who moved the racks. Orr also phoned City of Toronto Transportation Services, who, she says, wouldn’t take responsibility for the racks. Lisa Ing of Transportation Services confirmed in an email to The Grid that, while the City oversees Toronto’s post-and-ring lock sites, these communal racks and their relocation are not under its jurisdiction.
A May 2008 City document, Guidelines for the Design and Management of Bicycle Parking Facilities, states that “developing a system of tagging bicycles one week before removal will warn cyclists and will help distinguish abandoned bicycles from ones that are in use.” No bylaws imposing time restrictions on bike parking were found.
“My bike is in very good condition—it wasn’t tagged,” says Orr. “There weren’t any signs posted saying that rack would be moved. Otherwise, there’s no way I would’ve used it.”
The bike is currently sitting in Red Arrow Bikes in Kensington Market, where Orr’s bike mechanic, Shannen Leslie, is sizing up the damages. He says the right handlebar, stem, and front fork have all been bent and twisted to the right.
“It won’t even stand up—the wheel’s on a drastic angle,” says Leslie. “I’m concerned that the head tube of the frame has been bent as well.”
If the frame is intact, he says repairs could cost up to $300. With a bent frame, however, the $1,200 bike would be beyond repair.
In her insurance claim with the City, Orr estimated her total loss to be $400 between repairs to the bike, a lost day of work, and transportation costs while without the bike. Whatever the cost ends up being, Orr—newly married and having recently moved—just wants someone to take responsibility.
“I don’t want somebody specific to get in trouble,” she says. “I just want to know who it is that actually moved it, and I want the people responsible, or their insurance company, to give me the compensation that I need to pay for this.
“I don’t even want that much money.”
UPDATE, NOVEMBER 9, 2012: Allison Orr has informed The Grid that Metrolinx have offered to cover the cost of damages to her bicycle.