The unifying trait of people is that we all make mistakes. Man, woman, driver, cyclist, pedestrian, young, middle-aged, older. We can not call ourselves blameless or error-free. It is one of the best ways to learn but only if we pay attention. I made a huge mistake the other day. I’m still learning from it.
The other Friday evening, I was tired. It had been a long week between kids and work. But instead of going to bed early, I started watching YouTube. My husband had already gone to bed. I rationalised that I was catching up on popular culture but after an hour, it was a waste of my time. I went to bed past midnight. I woke up early Saturday morning because my husband and kids were planning to go to the early session of figure skating.
We had breakfast together and when everyone left, I started work. A few hours later, I bicycled to the workshop tired and frazzled as I had a deadline for Wednesday. I unloaded the pannier bags from my ebike, unclipped my phone from the handlebars, turned off the bike’s motor and clipped the key to my carabiner. I locked the back wheel lock to immobilise it and clipped that key to my carabiner. I had developed the bad habit of leaving the e-bike in front of the shop but locked to itself.
I brought my bags inside and started work. A few hours later, I went to buy a sandwich. My bicycle was still there. I met some lovely ladies who were attending a screen printing course at the workshop. They left a little after 3pm. Laura, the owner said that she saw the bicycle when they left. Not long after their departure, I had a sewing crisis. I would need to stay later. Laura, the owner knew about my deadline and could see that I was trying to meet it. Fortunately, she had enough work to keep her there later as well. Finally finished at 7:15pm, I packed up my belongings and said goodbye to Laura. I exited the front door and turned to my left. The bicycle was gone. Have you experienced that moment of nausea where you mind refuses to accept reality?
Ironically, a NSW police van was parked in front of the workshop on Parramatta Road. Laura ran up the street and asked the other shop owners if they had seen someone wheeling away a bicycle. I was in shock. I looked at my carabiner full of keys not expecting to see the key for the back wheel lock key. But it was there. F&$k! Was my first thought. There was confirmation that I had lost my mind earlier that day by not double locking the e-bike to itself and to a post. Someone had either wheeled away the e-bike or picked it up and driven it away.
I walked to the pub on the corner and asked the security guard if he had seen someone wheel away on a silver-grey bicycle. He shook his head no. I called the number for non-emergencies listed on the back of the police van. I spoke with a man who recorded my contact details. The police officers, whose van was parked in front of the workshop, had just returned to their vehicle. I stepped out of the shop with phone in hand to speak with them. They were very supportive and even apologetic. They mentioned that there was CCTV all along Parramatta Road which would assist. But they had a domestic dispute to attend now. They suggested that I finished my call. I would receive an event number to identify the theft. They suggested I wait for them to return or that I attend Newtown Police Station. I asked how long it could be for their return but they weren’t sure. My family was waiting for me at home. The man on the non-emergency-line suggested that I go home.
The constable who I met on Parramatta Road called me and asked me to attend Surry Hills Police Station to give a statement. I went and met Sargent Wilson who cheered me up with his hopefulness, positive attitude and interest in bicycles. We had a great chat about my work. I suggested that he consider using an e-bike for his commute. He even came outside the station to see my cargo bike. He gave me his card and included his mobile number.
The journey home via Uber was $16.81. Nearly the price of a delicious lunch in the city. I told my daughter over dinner that I hadn’t paid attention to what I was doing and the consequence of my mistakes was that my e-bike was stolen.
We were all sad at the loss of the e-bike. My son had accompanied me on the back during my commute to the office for nearly a year. The e-bike had come on our adventures to the Southern Highlands, the Blue Mountains, Megalong Valley. I had ridden her innumerable times into the city and she had received a motor upgrade last year. I had just purchased a new 19ah battery. The kids and I agreed that if we were to get her back, we would give her a name. She was one of the only bikes in our household without one.
Days passed. I organised to test-ride a few bikes and write some reviews for the bicycle shops. My preference is to ride an e-bike in summer because of the heat. I don’t have the time, inclination or end-of-trip facility to pack another set of clothing, shower, makeup and re-dress.
The shock of the theft grew less sharp each day. I heard from the constable on duty whom I met on the street in front of the workshop. He was going to request the CCTV footage from the pub on the corner. I had already broadcast the theft on all of my social media networks along with a photo and description of the e-bike.
Four days after the theft, I received a message via social media from A. He asked me if I had recovered my e-bike. He stated that he had seen it in Newtown. I rang him. He gave me a very precise description of the person who had been on my e-bike, the time and place. But then I was at a loss of what to do. I said, “Should I go to the police with this information?” He said, “I am the police.” And told me he was also a cyclist. I was so pleased at this positive development with a smile on my face.
A. rang me again later in the afternoon asking me for the event number and we discussed the uniqueness of my e-bike. I asked A. if he had been on his bicycle or in a car when he spotted my e-bike. He said that he had been on foot getting lunch. When he saw it, he was startled. So much so that someone next to him asked if he could help by holding his lunch. But he decided that the e-bike was too far away for him to safely pursue. I agreed. I didn’t want him to get hurt for the sake of my e-bike. He laughed and said that he had already been hurt as he had ridden in the Tour Down Under in Adelaide last week. He continued by saying that my e-bike was unique and the thief looked like a kid on it. The thief hadn’t adjusted it to his height and he wasn’t wearing a dress and heels as befit the e-bike. He had posted a police bulletin which included the details of rider, e-bike and location. It would be communicated to the stations around Newtown.
I have been struck by the generosity and kindness of the NSW Police in this matter. All have been extremely polite and professional. This is a direct contrast to the situations that all bicyclists have encountered in Sydney. I have been left with a feeling of hopefulness that my e-bike will be recovered soon.
To be continued…