Emilie Nguyen locked her bike to a street sign at the corner of Laurier Avenue and Berri Street May 22 and later returned to find it gone.
She assumed it had been stolen but, a few weeks later, she read a newspaper report about municipal workers removing a different bike that had been locked up near a bus stop.
Nguyen called the borough and found out her bike had indeed been confiscated. She was told she would have to pay $162 in storage and administration fees to get it back.
“I was completely shocked. I thought it was uncivilized of the city to take a bike without notice and then ask to pay to get it back, like it's a form of extortion,” she told CBC News.
A replacement bike and lock had already cost Nguyen $200.
She said she’s been locking her bike to the pole for the last four years without issue. And there are no signs saying it is prohibited.
Had she been notified that her bike had been impounded, she said she would have gone the next day to get it and avoid the $3-a-day storage fees, not to mention the cost of a new bike and lock.
Now she's fighting the charge, which is up to $177 with the ongoing storage fee.
The Plateau, however, is sticking by the bill.
Nguyen’s bike was blocking the sidewalk, the borough says.
Given its proximity to a school, it was deemed an unacceptable obstacle and removed.
Plateau spokesman Michel Tanguay told CBC News that cyclists are officially not allowed to lock their bikes to city property.
However, it’s a technicality that the borough only enforces when it needs to — as in the case of Nguyen’s bike.
Tanguay said the borough is looking at issuing cyclists warnings or posting notices if a bike has been removed.