Commuters aren’t likely to ride a $7,000 bike to work just to park it outside in the rain in plain view of vandals and thieves.
Enter the bike locker, Whitehorse’s newest bid for community sustainability.
Using only a padlock, bikes can be safely stowed within the steel walls of the locker, safe from the threat of stolen seats, broken chains and stripped gears.
Bike racks are functional, but they have often fallen short of serving the city’s cycling faithful, said Doug Hnatiuk, Whitehorse’s co-ordinator of projects and community development.
Citizens who ride to work often spend a lot of money on their bike. Naturally, they want more security, said Hnatiuk.
They also won’t have to worry about schlepping around their saddle bags.
The lockers are meant to be a “showcase,” said Hnatiuk.
Once local businesses and agencies see the municipal lockers in action, the hope is that scores more will begin to crop up.
Especially now there’s a Whitehorse-based supplier.
The lockers were built by Duncan’s Limited, a local structural steel fabricator.
The 30 new multicoloured lockers cost $45,000, paid through federal gas tax funds.
Ten are already in place at the Canada Games Centre and the other 20 are expected to be placed downtown.
“They’re the most dangerous things I’ve ever seen,” said two trade show attendees outside the Canada Games Centre on Sunday.
Without any sort of escape hatch, the lockers can easily become impromptu prison cells, said one man.
In the dead of winter, or in blazing sunlight, the consequences of being jammed in a locker could be deadly, he said.
The doors can be opened from the inside if unlocked – but a padlock, a pen or even a twig could transform the locker into a brig.
“It was never envisioned that a human being would be placed into those lockers, intentionally or otherwise—I mean, it’s a bike locker,” said Hnatiuk.
If need be, the lockers could probably be fitted with some sort of escape hatch, he said.
“They make a lot of noise if you pound on them, and they’re going to be in very public areas,” said Whitehorse environmental co-ordinator Pippa McNeil, loudly banging on the top of the locker for effect.
“These lockers are for (community) use, and if they abuse them, we’ll have to remove them, which is a bit of a shame,” said Hnatiuk.
“We’re hoping people will use them responsibly, and not use them for illicit activities, such as locking people in, and we would caution people not to put in any combustibles or explosives,” he said.
Wayward citizens may be tempted to reserve a “private” locker simply by keeping it bolted at all times.
“If we see locks on there over the evenings, we’ll put a notice up saying, ‘This is not your permanent locker,’” said engineering and environment manager Wayne Tuck.
“We would cut the lock off and confiscate the goods within the locker,” said Hnatiuk.
Despite cramped conditions, the lockers could also be well-suited to providing temporary sleeping accommodations.
“It’s like anything, we’ve had people camping in the gazebo in Rotary Peace Park,” said Hnatiuk.
Bylaw officials will be checking the lockers as part of their regular nightly rounds, he said.
Bike lockers are used in cities throughout Canada without incident, said McNeil.
But cities such as Toronto and Vancouver don’t allow indiscriminate bike locker access, offering them only by monthly rental.
Contact Tristin Hopper at