My bike is not a health and safety issue

3 minute read


Update September 19, 2013: Success! Thanks to a terrific, sympathetic manager or two (or three), our building’s “no bikes inside” policy will be re-written to accommodate folding bikes like my Brompton. The new rule: I have to keep my bike in a bag. Fair enough.

There are a handful of things about our national public broadcaster (disclosure: my employer) that bother me. A few infuriate.

But today took the cake. Let me explain.

I own a bright blue Brompton folding bicycle. I love it.

I originally bought the Brompton to combat bike theft. After losing my fourth beater to Toronto’s intrepid bicycle thieves, I opted for something portable. Something I could fold up and bring inside with me.

Most days, when the weather cooperates, I cycle to work. I ride to the CBC on Front Street, fold my Brompton, and carry it upstairs, where it spends most of the day living under my desk. Many of my colleagues have passed by my desk hundreds of times (thousands, perhaps) without knowing that there’s a bike under there.

My Brompton is convenient, and portable, and tricky for most bike thieves to steal. I love it.

I’ve been riding it to work and storing it under my desk since 2009. The first day I brought it through the CBC’s doors, I got a strange glance from the security guard. But I have never had a lick of trouble getting my Brompton safely upstairs to my desk.

Until this morning.

This morning, I arrived at the CBC, folded Brompton in hand. But when I approached the security desk, I was told I wouldn’t be allowed in with a bicycle.

I explained that I’d been bringing my bike upstairs for years.

No dice. Why not?

My bicycle is a “health and safety issue.”

I spent 45 minutes at the security desk, trying to get answers. Multiple security guards were telephoned. The head of security was telephoned. Nobody would let me into the building with my bike. Nobody could tell me how this morning anything was different than the day before. Finally, I was permitted to temporarily store my Brompton in the security office for the day.

But bring it upstairs, like I’ve done hundreds of times before? Not a chance.

As I learned later in the day, the CBC’s Front Street building has a “no bikes inside” policy. It’s been that way for years. Maybe forever. But at least in my Brompton’s case, that policy hasn’t been enforced.

Until now.

Apparently, the CBC security apparatus doesn’t see a difference between a full size 21-speed mountain bike and my tiny little Brompton folding bike that quietly sits under my desk and has never been a problem for anyone ever.

“No bikes inside” means no bikes inside.

What’s more, because my bicycle is a “health and safety issue,” pretty much the only way I can resume cycling to work as usual is if a health and safety committee (a comittee!) can somehow change the language in the official CBC security rulebook to make some sort of exception or exemption for folding bikes like mine.

Yes, that’s right. Before a draconian approach to a made-up “health and safety issue” that doesn’t really exist can be addressed, a committee has to meet.

This morning aside, not once in my 4+ years owning a Brompton have I been denied entry to a place while carrying it. I’ve brought my bike into countless places, public and private, in Canada and across Europe. Shops, restaurants, public transit, movie theatres, libraries, university classrooms… the list goes on.

I never expected the first place I’d be turned away would be my workplace.