Thursday, July 3, 2008

Detroit to enforce bicycle registration

Kryptonite New York lock
More and more people I know are riding their bikes to work and to get around. I'm also hearing a lot more about bike theft. It's mostly from newbies who don't know how to lock their bikes effectively, but that's not always the case. It seems like I'm also seeing more bike theft notices posted to some of the local bike discussion lists. To help enable recovery (and recovery does occasionally happen), take a photo of your bikes and record the serial numbers.

At the Palo Alto Caltrain station yesterday, probably 90% of the bikes I looked at were not adequately locked up. I see many thin and cheap cable locks in use and a lot of front wheels only locked up. If I wanted a spare wheel I had plenty to choose from.

In Detroit, the police say they plan to enforce a bike registration law to help fight bike theft.
An ordinance in the Detroit Municipal Code states that it is "unlawful for any person to operate or use a bicycle wholly or in part by muscular power upon any of the streets or sidewalks of the city without first obtaining a license therefor from the city."

The Detroit Police Department said they will be more strictly enforcing this ordinance in efforts to reduce bike theft in the city.
Read more. What do you think of mandatory bike registration laws?

In the Chicago area, police in Glenview and Naperville remind cyclists to lock their bikes and participate in voluntary registration programs.

The mayor of Aspen, Colorado had his bike stolen. Mike Ireland normally leaves his bike unlocked around town. His bike was parked outside of City Hall where he was in a council meeting when the bike was swiped.


  1. My town has a bicycle registration law on the books. I asked about it at the PD once, and was told storing the records cost more than the registrations brought in. The exception seems to be college towns where bicycle registrations are another way to fleece the students. Fail to pay the registration fee and the local authorities will soak you for $25 and costs.

  2. My only concern is whether it's applicable to only residents or to everybody. If you're a resident, a registration shouldn't be an undue burden, but if you're just passing through, how many stickers would you need?

    California law restricts licensing requirements to residents of the locale - someone has to remind the authorities at Stanford Univ. of this from time to time.

  3. Oh, I should add that many years ago, my father recovered his stolen bicycle in Savannah, GA because it had a registration sticker on it - from Maryland.

    We were visiting, and someone stole it out of our VW van. (yay 70s!!) As we were driving out of town, we spotted it at a gas station. The registration sticker was in numerical succession to the sticker which was still on my mother's bike (and wasn't stolen). That was enough for the police to return the bike to us!

  4. I don't feel that it should be manditory to register your bike. Something about "cold dead hands" etc. etc.

  5. Add this to the list of things that should be encouraged, publicized, and streamlined, but not enforced.

    I'm even fine if police won't bother looking for, or even returning, your bike unless you have a valid registration, but to require it in order to ride is asinine.

  6. Bit of a bugger for the long-distance cyclist.

  7. According to our U. regulations, anybody "using a bike on campus" is supposed to register it - as in driving on one of the roads to, say, get across town as I do. No, it's not in any way enforced.
    I'll just do some kind of DNA insert so everybody knows it's part of me :)

  8. What is mandatory registration going to accomplish? It's not as if cops ever look for stolen bikes, and thief worth the weight of bike he steals is gonna trash the serial and strip the sticker. If there was another, more permanent way, to do this, I'd support it more.

  9. More bureaucracy, more government, more laws unenforced unless you're not favored. Police can't even handle speeding restrictions or the registration of felons as required by the FBI, but cyclists and their rides need more policing?

  10. Look for theft to rise as it did during the mountain bike boom. Any time cycling gets long-term media attention and fashion cred, bikes have greater value to thieves.

    Registration is cumbersome and requires fugly stickers or plates on your bike. And what about those of us who run multiple bikes? Do we really get services for our registration dollar? You want to make it meaningful, put money into secure parking structures for bikes. If I lived in a city I would pay to have a secure, reliable parking place. That takes care of a large portion of the time a bike would be vulnerable to thieves, not to mention weather. A rider would still have to lock securely for shopping or other shorter errands, but that exposes the bike for less time.

  11. I'd be fine with mandatory registration if it was like with cars: get a sticker for the municipality where you reside (and/or go to college, to account for the student factor), and it's good everywhere. But maybe you have to renew it it every couple of years, so it's easier to tell whether a bike has been abandoned.

    But if I live in City A and bike commute to City B, it would be ridiculous to have to register twice.