Miranda Liebel (left) of Peers Victoria, accepts a bike from volunteer Kate Vallance, who donated it to the non-profit agency, which assists current and former sex workers. Contributed photo

Victoria woman pays it forward after bike is stolen, then recovered

Two ‘rights’ correct a ‘wrong’ as cyclist ends up with two bikes after one goes missing

When Kate Vallance’s bike went missing from outside her condo July 18, she didn’t expect to see it again.

The University of Victoria researcher, who cycles to work most days, had just finished installing a long-awaited bike rack outside her building the day before. Overnight, her 10-speed Raleigh had been stolen. The following morning, she reported it to VicPD and posted on UsedVictoria asking users to keep their eyes peeled for the pale green frame with an “eat more kale” sticker on the basket fastened to the rear fender.

“A young man who was leaving the Island contacted me and said, ‘hey, would you like my bike?’” Vallance said.

She picked it up the same day, complete with a helmet and lock. By then, a friend had alerted her to “Stolen Bike Avengers,” a Facebook group where she also posted about her missing bike.

“It turns out police use it quite often to track stolen bikes while doing their rounds around town,” Vallance explained. “That way, if they see bikes that look familiar, they can compare photos.”

On July 24, an officer called to say Vallance’s bike had not only been found, but the person who had it was unaware it had been reported stolen and promptly handed it over. “I was so surprised,” she said. “I thought it was gone for sure; it was so lovely, it was like Christmas.”

Now the owner of two bikes, but just one set of feet, Vallance looked to pay forward the kindness she had received. She donated the second bike last week, to Peers Victoria, a local non-profit where she volunteers, but not before giving it a basket and an “eat more kale” sticker of its own.

“There’s a lot of hate out there for people who are stealing bikes but I think sometimes people have challenging situations in their lives and are not always making the choices they want to,” she said.

Rachel Phillips, executive director of Peers Victoria, said a donation like this is rare and much appreciated.

“It’s really great because there are a lot of people who we serve who are either riding the bus or use bicycles,” she said. “We’re going to give it to someone specifically who needs a bike for getting to and from work.”

Anyone with spare bike parts to donate or perhaps time to give a class on how to tune up your ride is encouraged to contact Peers, Phillips added. “Anything that promotes cycling and getting used bikes out to those who need them is welcome,” she said.

The organization helps with housing, training opportunities, advocacy and public education around sex work.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

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