Saturday, December 30

Register Them All?

Justine Valinotti, in Mid-Life Cycling, here, talks about bicycle registration. That got me thinking . As when it came to licensing, I pondered things from the viewpoint of someone that likes to take a "small government" approach, as well as someone that might want to recover his own bicycle if it were to be stolen sometime in the future. Accordingly, I started to look into things. This is PART 1 of the ugly story about bicycle registration.

For bicycle registration to be effective, two things need to happen. First, you need to register your bike. Second, the police in the jurisdiction where your stolen bike is recovered need to use the service you registered with. So far, this is entirely consistent with "small government" since you'll note that I've not suggested that anybody set up some sort of government regulations or whatever. In fact, there ARE national registries for bicycles in the US. While the Bike League is silent on the topic, Seattle's Cascade Bicycle Club has a page, here, where they attempt to shut the door after the horse has left the barn. I use that analogy since most people won't have their registration number in the databases and an already stolen bike is not available to copy that vital identification number down.

When it comes to the police, the "National Bike Registry" has a list of law enforcement agencies that use (maybe) their database. It can be seen here. Bike Index also has a list of "Partners," but Index law enforcement partners are rare, with Los Angeles PD, Berkely, and Saint Louis being the only major participants. It isn't hard to see why - the Index web site doesn't seem oriented towards getting the police on board and they have no provisions for police to actually sign up. Their organization sign up page is here. Looking at places me and my loyal reader frequent gives the following NBR results. Places I frequently ride are in bold italic.

Participating Law Enforcement Agencies
  • United Kingdom - all police agencies and register via the registration site; here
  • Phoenix and Tucson - So at least the agency Justine refers to participates
  • Fort Collins, Denver and Summit County in Colorado
  • Winter Park and Florida Highway Patrol in Florida
  • Atlanta and Roswell in Georgia
  • Honolulu in Hawaii - I don't know if they transferred their old bicycle licenses to NBR or not
  • Boston, Cambridge and Somerville in Massachusetts
  • Santa Fe and Santa Rosa, NM
  • At least a half dozen New York City PD Precincts and the New York State Police
  • Ontario Provincial Police
  • Portland, Salem, and Oregon State Police
  • Austin, Denton, Euless, Plano,  Tarrant County Sheriff, and Wichita Falls in Texas
  • Hoquiam, Olympia, Seattle,

Not Listed as Participants
  • Breckenridge, Colorado so my little sister is probably out of luck unless the sheriff recovers her bike
  • Springfield, Missouri and MSU, so Andy ought to be careful
  • Los Alamos and Tucumcari, NM
  • Dayton, Ohio (home of the Wright Brothers; bicycle manufacturers)
  • Tulsa, OK
  • No local jurisdictions listed in Ontario
  • Bedford, Colleyville, Dallas, Ennis, Fort Worth, Hurst, Irving, and Southlake, Texas
  • Aberdeen, Everett, Ocean Shores, Tacoma, and Washington State Police in WA

Hmm, looks like places I ride the most are mostly non participants by a 7 to 2 ratio. I may need to make some quiet inquiries to see what happens when these 7 recover stolen bikes. I imagine that if they recover a bike reported stolen they'll send it own home, but what if the bike was reported stolen in another jurisdiction? As an example, while my Texas house is in Colleyville, Bedford and Euless are both only blocks away. There are hundreds of cities and towns around DFW. Stay tuned for future developments.


Justine Valinotti said...

Steve--You make great points. I wonder why more police departments aren't signed on to registries. Could it be because of logistical obstacles, or because police departments, especially in big cities, just don't see property crimes as a high priority. Or might there be some other reason?

Khal said...

Property crime is seen as a low priority in these parts. Even with registration, I suspect cops would not put a lot of effort unless something fell into their laps.

Steve A said...

The notion that property crimes are not a high priority is interesting, but testing this theory gives mixed results. Motorcycles have a 30% recovery rate (nationally). OTOH, the rates by state range from 19% (New York) to 93% (Hawaii) Autos have recovery rates ranging from 19% (Michigan) to 71% (Washington). Certainly ALL are a lot better than 3%, but future posts will examine these variables a bit more to see what we can do to increase the odds of getting a stolen bike back. Wikipedia info on this statistic is weak, other than an unsupported statement of "...vary, depending on the effort a jurisdiction's police department puts into recovery..." Duh!

Steve A said...

Trevor Woodford commented:
A very interesting post Steve...
Bike registry is pushed hard by the UK police and they often have events where your bike can be 'etched' for free...

Somehow his comment got deleted by Blogger.

cafiend said...

Registration for theft recovery is one thing. The "free market" approach leads to the haphazard and ineffective results that are little better than having nothing at all. On the other hand, property crime takes a lower priority in a world where people are willing to do heinous things to each other on a daly basis. And bicycles, as "toys," are very low on the priority list of property. So even with a uniform system of registration nationwide, recovery would be spotty at best.

When I saw your blog title, I thought you might be addressing the other registration -- a cause celebre among critics of cycling on the public right of way -- meaning taxes and fees paid like a motorist, to support infrastructure and enforcement. Motorists who pay out the yingyang to own and operate their motor vehicles want their misery to have company. Seeing themselves as the norm, and cyclists as the freeloading impediments to traffic flow, they want to see riders cough up some coin for the privilege of getting in the way out there.

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