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A cycle of thefts

A Wairarapa surgeon faced an unwelcome walk home after her bike was stolen from the hospital bike rack.

Surgeon Sarah Rennie made the discovery upon finishing a long shift on Tuesday night.

“I filed a police report, and I think there are cameras there, so hopefully, they’ll find something,” she said.

Rennie said the small grey mountain bike that had been handed down to her by her children was “a bit of a dunger”, but it got her from A to B.

The front brakes did not work, and she said it was worth $0 in the police report.

But despite its low monetary value, the bike was worth a lot to Rennie, who used it to commute to work.

Rennie lives in Wellington with her family, but for the past six years has worked part-time at Wairarapa Hospital, commuting on the train and then cycling to work from a relative’s house.

Her 10-minute bike ride will now become a 25-minute walk, a problem given that surgeons need to get to the hospital at very short notice.

“Apparently, I am not the first staff member to have a bike stolen from the hospital,” Rennie said.

“We are trying to promote healthy living for people and our planet, but this really doesn’t help.”

Fellow surgeon Niels Dugan actually warned Rennie against parking her bike on the rack on the day it was stolen.

“She seemed to think that nobody would steal it because it wasn’t a very flash bike,” he said.

Dugan said the rack, out the back of the hospital, was a thoroughfare from Lansdowne to Queen Elizabeth Park, and at least two other staff members’ bikes had been stolen from there.

“I put my bike in a different location – it’s not a public thoroughfare, and it has more informal supervision from people using the kitchen,” he said.

“Even so, none of these bike racks are covered, and they’re not lit at night.”

Dugan wants the hospital to build a covered bike shelter with a light and swipe card access for staff.

“If there were better facilities, I think people would feel more comfortable cycling to work, and it would also tick the box for moving towards carbon neutrality.”

He said the idea had been percolating for a couple of years but was unsure about who to contact within the centralised Te Whatu Ora beauracracy, which recently replaced the district health board.

Earlier this year, Dugan sent a formal proposal for a bike shelter to the chief medical officer, who supported the idea and passed it “further up the Te Whatu Ora food chain”.

Police said inquiries into the theft of Rennie’s bike are ongoing. Wellington Central Police said on Tuesday that it has a number of bikes at the station which had been recovered and encouraged owners of stolen bikes to come in with proof of ownership.

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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