City eyes new third-party bike registry to curb thefts

The city is trying to get a new bike registry that it hopes will curb theft and increase the chances of recovering stolen bikes to their rightful owners.

According to a city ​​report, hundreds of bicycles are reported stolen each year in Winnipeg. While police recover about 600 bikes a year, many are unregistered and cannot be returned.

To address this, the city is looking to join a new online multi-jurisdictional bike registry called 529 Garage. The registry allows Winnipeg cyclists to register their bikes for free through the 529 Garage website or app, upload pictures and report if their bike is stolen.

The report says that if the new register is implemented, those who have registered existing bikes will be contacted by email to update their registrations for the new system.

The new registration comes with a price of $50,000 for 2024, and about another $50,000 a year until 2027.

Bike Winnipeg feels it’s a worthwhile expense.

“This is critical, as we know that the theft of a bicycle or the fear of theft prevents many people from cycling and reduces the number of trips that people are willing to make by bicycle,” Mark Cohoe, the executive director of the group, he told the group. the city’s Community Services Committee on Tuesday.

He said this new registry makes it easier for bike shops and non-profit groups like Bike Winnipeg to get involved. It could also allow people thinking of buying a second-hand bike to check if it has been stolen by looking up its serial number in the register.

“It’s not a magic bullet. It’s not going to solve our robbery problem, but it’s moving us and that’s a common problem we have.”

He said that while the city needs to take other measures to address the social drivers of these thefts, such as addictions and poverty, a new record is a step in the right direction.

When asked how the city will be able to connect with the average individual and convince them to register, Cohoe said trust is key.

“People who are more confident that that bike can be returned to them, I think it makes more value in this sense and I hope we see more registrations.”

He works in other cities. The city report says Vancouver Police implemented the same bike registry in 2015, and saw bike thefts drop 30 percent in two years. Other cities including Regina, Brandon, Ottawa and Quebec City also use 529 Garage.

Winnipeg’s Community Services Committee voted in favor of the new registry, although city council will have the final say. If it goes through the council, the report says the program could be implemented by March 2024.

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