Why register your bike? While a bike is not as expensive as a house or a car, it is still a major investment. And we love our bikes! People — professionals, hobbyists, or students — who use their bikes to go around the city or explore a new biking trail in the mountains know that there’s a special bond between a bike and his human.
Losing a bike sucks. And it hurts big time!
Bike theft is rampant
While it’s hard to come across an accurate data for bike theft, a 2014 report from the FBI showed that there were 210, 905 reported bike theft cases in the United States. And I bet, that number has increased today.
In fact, a more recent study in 2016 reports that in Seattle, a bike is stolen every hour! The researchers saw a horrifying increase of 216.4% in bike theft cases over the last eight years — that averaged to about 18.3% every year.
Can you now see why you should register your bike?
Bike theft is also the number one campus crime.
Here’s another problem: The police can’t keep up. Well, at least not yet. That’s why several communities have sprung up to protect fellow bikers from bike thieves and to give them a good chance to recover their stolen bikes.
These grassroots organizations also advocate for better biking infrastructures in communities. They also promote bicycle safety as well as empower a thriving biking community through fun events. Check out this wonderful biking community from Oregon.
Many of these city-based biking organizations maintain a database where you can register your bike.
Why register your bike
A precaution for bike theft.
The biggest reason why you should register your bike is bike theft. By registering, you are improving your chances of recovering your bike if it gets stolen. Companies or organizations that offer a bike registration service share their databases with the police. A win-win deal. You help the authorities do their job more efficiently — they help you recover your stolen bike.
Several brands require that you register your bicycle to become eligible for their warranty offers.
Yes, certain cities require that you register your bike. If an officer catches you riding an unregistered bike, you could pay a fine. Don’t worry, the fee won’t be more than $10. But hey, that’s still worth a couple of Starbucks coffee!
Proof that the bike is yours.
Aside from the shiny stickers that you get when you register your bike, a bike registration helps prove that the bike is yours.
What to do when you register your bike
Ready to register your bike? Great!
Before going through the registration process, make sure that you have a copy of the purchase receipts. Manufacturer’s information is also important — that includes the model of your bike, the serial number, etc.
Any personalization must be also well documented. Record everything — from stickers and markings to the latest paint job you did.
And oh, one last thing! Make sure you have a photo of your bike as well! (Almost, forgot that one.)
Sounds tedious? A bit. But all these are worth it. In the unlikely event that your bike gets stolen, the police will have a detailed information on hand to make it easier to find your bike.
Where to register your bike
There are different places where you can register your bike. Some states have their own registration portals or have partnered with local or national organizations that offer such service. For instance, Salt Lake City, Utah recommends Bike Index to their bike owners.
Check with your local police department or city council to see if they offer a bike registration service or if they can recommend one.
If you’re a student, check with your university if they offer a bike registration service. If not, ask them for any organization or company that they can recommend.
Register your bike online.
The National Bike Registry
National Bike Registry was established in 1984 to help identify stolen bikes and scooters. NBR has a huge database of registered bicycles which police departments nationwide access daily to match recovered bikes to their respective owners.
529 Garage was started by a small team who believe that a bike deserves better protection than it currently has. Leveraging technology, 529 Garage makes use of web and mobile tools built with the bike owner in mind. The company has networked with hundreds of campuses, cities, and law enforcement agencies nationwide.
On January 31, 2017, 529 Garage acquired National Bike Registry, forming the biggest database of bicycles in the United States. And further strengthening their capacity to fight the bike theft epidemic that has plagued the nation.
A bike registration in Garage 529 is Free. They also have a paid option which packs more security options to better protect your bike.
A note to second-hand bike buyers
Buying a used bike is a practical solution if you don’t have the extra cash. It’s also a good option if you are still trying the waters of the biking lifestyle. However, be extra careful. Search online bike registration databases first before you click that buy button to make sure that the ride you’re buying isn’t stolen.
If the search shows a match, please contact the proper authorities. Because somewhere out there, a passionate rider is missing his bike.
You know what’s way better? Buy a new one instead. We all love the smell of fresh wheels and metal! Here’s a handy guide for brand new bikes that are under $500.