'Bike thefts are a plague on Sheffield'
At the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak, nurse facilitator Rayna Foletti was busy in the infectious diseases wards at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital, helping keep her nursing team supplied with personal protective equipment, food and water, and updating notes for patients.
After finishing work one evening, she went to collect her road bike from a cage outside the hospital, but it had gone, stolen while she helped her nurses through the worst days of the crisis.
She had cycled in that morning and was planning a gentle ride home through the Porter Valley to unwind.
Rayna, aged 54, said: “I felt sick, to know this crime had been committed during my working day on the frontline, to take a pair of cable cutters in daylight to take advantage of those of us working to save lives.”
The bike had taken Rayna on cycle tours across the UK and weekend rides all over Northern England.
She said: “For two weeks, the loss was terrible to me. I thought I’d give up riding. My bike was my happy zone.”
But then she spoke to Henry Nottage, of Tony Butterworth Cycles, who has been helping NHS staff with free bike servicing throughout the pandemic.
He advised Rayna about her idea of a new ‘pleasure and commuting bike’ and then the local Love to Ride active travel network stepped in to help with the cost.
Henry said: “I was gutted for Rayna when I heard her bike had been stolen while she was hard at work at the hospital and it was an honour to be able to source a suitable replacement - and a big bonus when Love to Ride said they would help cover the cost.
Rayna is not the only NHS worker to have their bike stolen during the pandemic and the suspicion is thieves are targeting key workers who have invested in decent bikes for travel during the crisis.
Love to Ride advises employers to prioritise well-planned bike-parking hubs, with secure external locks accessible only by staff, covered by CCTV.
Henry said: “Bike thefts are a plague on our city.”
Rayna said: “It was a brilliant offer to help me buy a new bike. I’ve ridden it for a week now and it’s a beautiful bike. It has all the qualities my old bike had, but with flat bars for commuting. I was devastated to lose my old bike, but now I can keep going.”