By Katrina Geary
A new program to deter bicycle thieves has been launched in Ottawa in the form of a new app (application) that allows you to register the serial number and a description of your bike. It’s called 529 Garage.
Several friends have had their bikes stolen in the Glebe and Centretown over the last couple of years. Bike theft was particularly bad last year.
This initiative is a collaboration between Project 529, the Ottawa Police, Bike Ottawa and the Ottawa Safety Council. Police are handing out tamper proof stickers with unique ID numbers that bike owners register with the 529 Garage app.
If your bike goes missing, you send an alert to the app that notifies the police and the other app users to be on the lookout for your stolen bike. There is typically no way for the police to reunite a bike with its owner, as people usually do not record their bike’s serial number. However, for stolen bikes recovered by the police that have the 529 Garage stickers, the police can use the app to reunite the bike and the owner.
Only the police can access the database to search for serial numbers, but you can search on the app by description and make of bike, for example if you are about to purchase a second-hand bike to check whether it has been reported stolen.
This project has been very successful in Vancouver, which has seen as 30 per cent decrease in bike thefts.
You can register your bike with Ottawa police online: project529.com/ottawapoliceservice or by downloading the 529 Garage App on your mobile device. The 529 Garage stickers can be obtained from Ottawa Police at bike-related events over the summer. Ottawa Police recommend people check their 529 Garage website for updates on when they can pick up the 529 Garage stickers: ottawapolice.ca/endbiketheft.
I plan to register our bikes with the app as soon as we dust them off for the bike season.
Katrina Geary is a Glebe resident and cyclist.