San Francisco launches program to register bikes

A new program launched that hopes to get bikes registered so they could be returned if they were stolen and then found again.
February 17, 2014 6:45:59 PM PST
A San Francisco program that launched last week, already has people getting onboard. It's a new way for bicyclists to try to deter thieves, or at the very least, be reunited with their stolen wheels.

We hear a lot about cellphone thefts, but actually bicycle thefts in San Francisco are a bigger problem and now the city and bicycling enthusiasts are helping a new registration program will help.

More people than ever before are riding bikes in San Francisco -- 75,000 a day -- and that boom in cycling has meant a rise in rip offs. At least 4,000 were stolen in 2012. According to a city report, that's a 70 percent increase from 2006.

"I've had two bicycles stolen in the last three to four years," said Supervisor Eric Mar.

Mar is endorsing a new initiative called SAFE Bikes. A non-profit hopes to register everyone in the city.

"By making it voluntary, not mandatory people do it. It's a very easy process. It's painless," said Brent Sverdloff, the director of SAFE.

"A lot of people in the past have had problems with the police maintaining a database with their contact information. I understand that, we understand. That's why SAFE is going to do this. That's where the collaboration is," said San Francisco Police Deputy Chief John Loftus.

Right now, because most riders don't record the serial numbers or other identifying details, police are only able to return about 16 percent of the stolen bikes they recover. The rest are stored in a police warehouse.

"They are just sitting in the warehouse. Can we actually get them on the street and have them make a difference in neighborhoods around the city?" said San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos.

Avalos wants to formalize a recent practice of giving away some of those unclaimed bikes to community organizations. One group, PODER, shared this video of how low-income recipients are learning to repair and care for their donated wheels. Rheema Calloway says receiving a bike has transformed her life.

"I love it. I'm able to be free. Actually, I feel like I'm flying," said Calloway, a bicyclist.

So now there are innovative efforts on both ends of the spectrum to keep bikes in the hands of owners. And if not, to make sure a warehouse isn't the end of the line.


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