As if cyclists in Brussels didn’t have enough to put up with, now they risk losing their bike insurance.
Insurance company Aedes, a subsidiary of Axa which specialises in insurance for cyclists, has now announced it will no longer insure Brussels cyclists for theft of their bike unless they have it put away under lock and key at all times when it is not being used.
“Across Belgium, the number of bicycle thefts is decreasing,” said Benjamin Martens, spokesperson for Aedes.
“Except in Brussels, where there has been an increase of about 15%. Today, we must draw this conclusion: bicycle theft in Brussels is becoming uninsurable.”
But not for everyone. If the cyclist has a secure place to leave the bike, whether indoors or in one of the boxes springing up in the streets, insurance from Aedes is still available. But bicycles parked on the public highway, no matter how robust their lock, will no longer be accepted.
Thieves, Maertens said, go to work “whatever the type of padlock, the location, the presence of members of the public. It only takes a few seconds to steal a bicycle.”
Aedes has a special policy for bicycles, named Pvelo, which it has sold to 25,000 owners. However in 2019 alone, 4,720 bicycles were reported stolen, and the true number is likely to be closer to 12,000, according to the cycling organisation Cyclo, as many owners don’t file a complaint.
According to Aedes, that comes to 32 stolen bikes a day, or 20 times more than stolen cars. The company neglects to mention the relative value of the two commodities: one car is worth very much more than 32 bicycles.
At the same time, only 5% of stolen bikes are ever returned to their owners.
“In this unfavourable environment, we find ourselves at an impasse and have no choice but to take strong action quickly, to ensure that we can continue to cover bicycle theft in the longer term,” the company said in a press release.