Mandatory bike registration at retail mooted in Government cycling doc

Mandatory bike registration on new bike sales could become a new norm in a bid to better assist police in solving bike theft cases.

The detail comes buried in the Government’s Gear Change document, which explains (although lightly and without too much firm commitment as yet) the various ways in which cycling and walking will be stimulated via new measures, ranging funding to street based adjustments.

Retailers would likely be tasked with the registration at the point of sale, according to the segment, which reads:

“We will do more to combat bike theft. Cycle theft has declined in recent years, but more than 300,000 cycles are still stolen each year – about three times the number of cars taken. Many who lose their bikes in this way never return to cycling. We will consolidate existing ownership registers allowing police to trace the owners of stolen bikes. We will explore mandating retailers to number all bikes they sell on the new database, and to offer customers the opportunity to register at the point of sale.

“More bikes could be fitted with GPS tracking chips, allowing owners to find and recover them if they are stolen. We will work with the police led National Cycle Crime Group to support the establishment of regional cycle crime enforcement partnerships based on hotspot intelligence to disrupt organised cycle theft and help reinvigorate cycle crime as a priority. We will do more to educate owners in how best to protect their bikes.”

Polling CI.N’s trade-locked Facebook group – Cycling Industry Chat – bike shops are almost unanimously in support of the idea thus far, stating that they’d happily comply with a mandatory registration system.

With electric bikes gaining in popularity the ability to counter cycle theft in new ways is coming to the fore. Some motor manufacturers are able to immobilise their systems, meaning thieves would be forced to carry a bike away from the scene and likely take it to a local specialist to unlock the system; thus putting them in line to be caught red handed by a system such as that proposed if the bike is not already registered.

As lockdown measures have eased bike thieves have cottoned on to high demand for bicycles. BikeRegister, a bike registration business that could have its expertise drawn on as part of any legislative change, revealed a significant rise in reported bike theft. In June alone, reported bike thefts were up by 48% on 2019.

While no firm commitment is made in the Gear Change document, a segment does state that secure cycle parking volumes will increase as part of the £2 billion cash allocated to active travel. The text reads:

“We will install more cycle racks in town and city centres and where they are most needed, including at transport interchanges and public buildings including hospitals and schools. Cycle racks should not be installed where they are unlikely to be used and we will promote the importance of high quality, accessible and secure designs that will encourage increased use and discourage theft. In residential areas, we will fund more bike hangars and other secure on-street storage, for people who do not have space to keep their bikes at home. We will continue to work with key stakeholders to develop new standards for sufficient secure bike storage in all new residential and non-residential developments.

“Cycle parking should be pleasant, sufficient and convenient to allow people to cycle for commuting and utility journeys and to know that there will be both short or long-term parking at their destinations. Cycle parking should consider the needs of all potential users and the range of cycles which will use the facilities. The provision of other services such as maintenance facilities will improve the experience for users and deter cycle theft.”