VicPD is transitioning out of its volunteer bicycle registry in favour of adopting a registration app used across North America.
The “Garage” app, operated by Seattle-based organization Project 529, has been in use in Vancouver since 2015 and is now used by police departments on Vancouver Island.
Owners can upload photos of their bikes, notify other users if their bike is stolen, and allows registration by email.
The Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition (GVCC) hailed the move on Wednesday, saying that RCMP in Nanaimo, Sidney and Langford already use the app.
A volunteer with GVCC says that with more Island-based police agencies on the app, it makes it easier to coordinate efforts to recover stolen bicycles in the region.
“Part of the purpose of a registry is to return a bike to its rightful owner,” said GVCC volunteer Todd Kalyniuk in an interview with Victoria Buzz.
“[The app] is much easier to use than VicPD’s process was. They can store more information.”
Kalyniuk says that the Greater Victoria region is a hotbed for bicycle thefts, with bike thefts consistently outpacing vehicle thefts by a factor of more than three-to-one.
A survey of over 500 bicycle owners conducted in 2019 by the GVCC showed more than half had reported a stolen bike, and in those cases only 15 per cent said their bike had been recovered.
“We’ve been trying to educate individual bike owners to secure their bikes more effectively,” said Kalyniuk. “One big thing is to stop using cable locks.”
The survey by GVCC also included some potential calls to action for the region, including a transition to a better registry.
They also recommended that the City look at adding or upgrading secure bike parking in publicly-owned parkades, as well as partnering with organizations that would be willing to host long-term valet bike parking or pursue other innovations.
VicPD officers will be able to access the Project 529 Garage app to query recovered property or found bicycles.
Users interested in registering their bicycles can find more information on the app at project529.com/garage.
All information currently held on the VicPD Bike Registry will be deleted by June 30, 2021, in keeping with provincial privacy legislation.