Registering a bike "increases exponentially the odds of getting it back" - Chicago police Officer Jose Estrada.
We built the Bike Index because we were frustrated by the prevalence of bike theft. We regularly saw people trying to sell stolen bikes, and would search for the bikes online—but it was too difficult to find definitive information about them because too few people save their serial numbers.
We've been working on the Bike Index for a year. It now does what no other registry does and what we believe a registry needs to do: it provides a way to verify used bike sales, offers a comprehensive search and reaches bicyclists who don't know that registration is possible.
We were able to build the Bike Index on our own, working on development and speaking to local shops and improving the Bike Index until it provided the services that we wanted it to provide.
But now we need to spread the word and connect with more people and locations. We need a dedicated staff to be able to move forward.
We need help to offer useful bike registration to everyone
We need to hire another developer to help streamline the registration process, integrate with Point of Sale systems at bike shops, and combine with existing services to create a universal search for stolen bikes.
And we need resources to travel to other cities to create location specific advice for responding to bike theft and set up bike shops to register bikes.
Local governments are interested in providing a good registration system for their constituents, we need your support to show cities that people want a useful, open source bike registry instead of another proprietary system that further fragments recovery efforts.
With your help, we will work on the Bike Index full time this fall and winter, expanding to new cities in the US and improving the service so registration starts becoming an expectation.
Our expansion will give us the leverage we need to talk with local governments and manufacturers and integrate with their databases to create a national registry that makes bike theft much less profitable.
The cost of registration
- It is and always will be free for bike shops and bike advocacy organizations to register bikes.
- It's free for the first 10,000 bikes, after there will be a one-time $6.99 fee to register (if you don't go through a bike organization or shop).
Risks and challenges
Registration isn't going to magically return stolen bikes or instantly end bike theft.
But recovering a stolen bike requires proof of ownership and a way to contact the bike owner.
A functional bike registry provides both those things and is the foundation of any effort to reduce theft.
Right now we are serving a relatively small number of users and we need your help to grow. Providing reliable service while the organization expands will be difficult but with winter coming, fewer people will be biking and bike shops will have more time—giving us the opportunity to improve the service and make sure it works for everyone.
We need to integrate with other registries that structure their data differently. We need to reach out to services and connect with them.
We're working with the folks behind the Chicago Stolen Bike Registry to create a common set of attributes to describe bikes that can be shared between all of our services.
And Bryan Hance, the founder of stolenbikeregistry.com, one of the Internet's first-ever registries to track stolen bikes, is excited to collaborate as well because he believes in it—and he thinks other bikers will, too. "The biking community can smell authenticity," Hance said. "They know when someone's trying to sell them something, and they know when someone is honestly, genuinely interested in trying to tackle the problem. That's the sense I get from Seth and Bike Index. It's obvious he knows what he's doing."
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